Yaya Toure, PHOTO: Youtube
Pep Guardiola has assured Leroy Sane and Yaya Toure that they have important roles to play at Manchester City as his unbeaten side prepare to face struggling Crystal Palace.
Sane, 21, started for just the second time this season as City beat West Brom in the League Cup in midweek, taking their return to six wins and a draw from their seven league and cup games.
He celebrated by scoring twice in a 2-1 win while fellow midfielder Toure also started, used for the first time in any capacity this season by Guardiola, who had left him out of his squad altogether in recent weeks.
Guardiola praised German international Sane, signed for £37 million ($50 million, 42 million euros) from Schalke in August 2016, for his midweek performance.
“He played so well, not just in terms of goals, although his second goal was fantastic, but also with the way he kept the ball, how he could not lose the ball and fighting,” the manager said.
Toure, 34, has had a fractious relationship with the City manager, dating back to their time together at Barcelona, although Guardiola insists that the Ivory Coast player, too, has a role to play.
After the Palace match at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, City host Shakhtar Donestsk in the Champions League on Tuesday before visiting reigning champions Chelsea ahead of the October international break.
“We need him and of course it’s not easy for the players who didn’t play in the last games,” said Guardiola.
“But he showed his personality because it’s not easy for him to play in these type of games. But he did it well and that’s why we’re happy for him to come back. And we are going to use him.
“Everybody is going to play. We have a lot of games. Three days later we have a game, then three days later we have the Champions League and then, after, Stamford Bridge.”
– Gundogan injury –
City received an injury boost as tests showed German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan hadn’t suffered serious damage to his left knee after limping off at The Hawthorns on his first start in nine months.
Gundogan was just back from another long-term knee injury, but his latest problem was diagnosed as a sprain and the 26-year-old is expected to return to training in the coming days.
Palace, still without a Premier League goal, face a daunting task if they are to collect their first point of the campaign after a disastrous start to the season.
Frank de Boer paid the price for overseeing defeats in the opening four league games and successor Roy Hodgson failed to break that run in his first game in charge against Southampton last weekend.
The midweek League Cup defeat of Huddersfield provided a confidence boost as did the return of Mamadou Sakho, who has made a full-time return to the south London club after a successful loan spell last season.
With Manchester United and Chelsea next up, things could get significantly worse for Hodgson’s side before they get better but the new manager believes there are positive signs, particularly with Sakho back in contention.
“I’m delighted to be back on the training field with these players because I think they have a genuine desire to get better and become a better team,” said Hodgson. “We can become a team that is hard to beat and cause more problems for the opposition.”