Walker and Phillips ‘optimistic’ over World Cup but may not play before | Manchester City

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Pep Guardiola has confirmed Kyle Walker will not play for Manchester City before the World Cup and that Kalvin Phillips has only an outside chance of doing so, but said each was optimistic of being fit for England should Gareth Southgate name them in his 26-man squad.

Walker has been out with a groin problem since 2 October, and Phillips’s shoulder injury was sustained on 14 September. Southgate considers them automatic choices when fit and with Chelsea’s Reece James, another of his preferred right-backs, out until after the group stage, the manager faces a dilemma regarding how many players not 100% he can take to Qatar.

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Guardiola said of Walker, who can play in central defence as well as at right-back, and Phillips, a midfielder: “They are better, I think they are getting better, Kalvin especially, but they are out. Until after the World Cup, they will not be ready [for City].”

The manager was then brighter regarding Phillips. “He said he feels really well,” Guardiola said. “His mobility in the shoulder is perfect. He’s started to train in contact with the ball. He has to avoid contact with teammates but he’s really well. We’re surprised at how quick his development [has been].

“If he’s fit then I believe he can play [at the World Cup]. If he’s ready he can maybe take minutes [for City before] but I don’t know right now. We’ll see.”

Southgate is due to name his squad on 10 November, two days before City’s final pre-World Cup fixture. Guardiola, asked about Phillips’s and Walker’s mood, said: “They are in a positive way, they are optimistic, they are ready. I think they are in touch with Gareth. The managers of the national team, maybe they have more info. Hopefully they can get it and be ready to be selected at the end. It’s a question for the national team.”

Erling Haaland was replaced at half-time of Tuesday’s draw at Borussia Dortmund after feeling unwell. Regarding the striker’s availability for Saturday’s trip to Leicester, Guardiola said: “He feels better but we have training this [Friday] afternoon. We will assess in a few hours. We will see how he is feeling, if he is fit.”

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