Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has slammed summer signing Kalvin Phillips for returning from the 2022 Qatar World Cup “overweight.”
Guardiola, 51, was asked about Phillips in his pre-match press conference ahead of his side’s clash against Leeds on December 28, and didn’t hold back in his answer.
Phillips was expected to feature in Man City’s Carabao Cup fixture against Liverpool in midweek, but was omitted from the squad, raising questions over his fitness.
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Initially, Guardiola simply stated that Phillips was not fit to play in Man City’s victory, but later went into more detail about why the England international was missing.
What did Guardiola say?
The Spaniard revealed: “He is not injured. He arrived overweight.” Guardiola was then asked why Phillips was not in shape, and he replied: “I don’t know. He didn’t arrive in the condition for the training sessions and to play.
“When he will be ready, he will play,” he said. “We need him. We need him a lot.”
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Phillips has managed just four appearances for Man City since arriving from Leeds for €49 million during the summer transfer window, and is yet to start a competitive fixture for his new side.
His only appearance in the Premier League came back in August, when he appeared off the bench for just one minute against West Ham. Phillips’ most recent club appearances was against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup in early November.
As a result, his inclusion in England’s 26-man squad for the World Cup was a slight surprise, and he wasn’t fit enough to make a real mark on the tournament. Phillips was twice used as a substitute, against Wales and Senegal, but could only muster 40 minutes in Qatar.
England’s regular starters were put through intense training throughout the competition, but it’s believed that it was far more relaxed for those not often involved, which could have played a part in Phillips’ current shape. Furthermore, the Yorkshireman previously had issues with his weight at Leeds, with Marcelo Bielsa forced to take action on numerous occasions, including after the 2020 European Championships.