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Pep hopes to see City target Mahrez back for Foxes

 

By Andy Hampson

Pep Guardiola wants Manchester City to face a Leicester side containing Riyad Mahrez today.

The City manager says he hopes to see the Algeria forward back at his best following the collapse of a potential move to the Etihad Stadium and a subsequent spell in self-imposed exile.

Mahrez failed to report for training for over a week after Leicester refused to sell the 26-year-old below their £95m asking price. City were prepared to pay no more than £60m.

On Thursday Foxes boss Claude Puel ruled Mahrez out of the clash against the Premier League leaders but it is understood the player has since returned to training and made himself available.

Asked if he wanted Mahrez to play, Guardiola said: "Hopefully. I wish he comes back soon to play football because we enjoy watching him play.

"Hopefully as soon as possible he comes back with Leicester and plays at his level."

Guardiola expects to be able to name a full complement of substitutes for the game after having only six on his bench at Burnley last week due to injuries.

Defender John Stones and midfielder Phil Foden are both available again following spells on the sidelines.

Guardiola's selection of six substitutes at Turf Moor drew criticism from former Manchester United defender Gary Neville who, in his role as a Sky Sports pundit, referred to it as "a joke".

"We'll have 18 players, (including) on the bench, so Gary Neville can be happy," said Guardiola at his pre-match press conference. "I am happy."

With no game in midweek, Guardiola gave his players three days off earlier in the week. With the Champions League due to resume next week and City still involved in both domestic cup competitions, Guardiola hopes that serves his squad well.

One player Guardiola would like to rest more is top scorer Sergio Aguero but, with Gabriel Jesus still out for possibly another fortnight, that is not an option.

He said: "I would like to give him a rest sometimes but he's the only striker we have. He is doing really well but Gabriel is coming back soon."

Belfast Telegraph

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