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Euro qualifiers: Guardiola praying his players return injury-free

March 19, 2019 10:19 IST
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Pep Guardiola

IMAGE: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hopes his players return injury-free from the international break this month for a hectic run of fixtures that could define the Premier League champions' season.

City play eight fixtures in 29 days after the international break with the club fighting on three fronts -- the league, FA Cup and Champions League -- as they seek a quadruple having already won the League Cup last month.

 

They are currently second in the league with a game in hand, two points behind leaders Liverpool, while Guardiola's side also advanced to the FA Cup semi-finals and the Champions League quarter-finals.

"I pray that they come back fit," Guardiola told City's website. "They have to go to their national teams... enjoy and play for their country, but I hope they can come back fit like they are now."

"I just want them fit and here... With the fixtures we have in April we need everybody, it's crazy."

Guardiola confirmed those not involved with their national teams would have a week's rest before returning to training but counted on his injured players to make a comeback and contribute in any way possible.

"Everybody is going to play and Kevin (De Bruyne), Fernandinho, John (Stones), Benjamin (Mendy) -- they are all going to be back soon and we need them. Even if some play 10 or 15 minutes here and there," Guardiola added.

"We need everybody because we have got to this stage where we are still in with a chance of winning three more trophies because of everybody. Not just 11 players, but everyone."

City's next game is a league trip to relegation strugglers Fulham on March 30.

Deschamps takes cautious approach to Euro 2020 qualifiers

France might have been drawn in a supposedly easy Euro 2020 qualifying group, but coach Didier Deschamps insisted they will take nothing for granted when they start their campaign against Moldova on Friday.

The world champions were drawn in Group H with Moldova, Iceland, whom they face next Monday, Albania, Turkey and Andorra.

"History shows that France has often struggled in qualifying campaigns," Deschamps told a news conference on Monday.

Les Bleus are likely to face very defence-minded sides as they are the overwhelming favourites to top the group.

"They will likely sit back, even if they can attack. We will have very little space, we have already faced that kind of opposition," Deschamps, who led France to the 2016 European championship final and to the world title in Russia last year, added.

"We will have to be precise and lively. But it is never simple and we know it. We know what to expect. It's not the ideal game for us."

After their trip to Chisinau, France will take on Iceland at the Stade de France on Monday.

With most of the players having been involved in domestic duties on Sunday, Deschamps has little time to prepare.

"We are used to it. Today and tomorrow will be for recuperation mostly and then we will have two days to get ready," he said.

Switzerland's injured Shaqiri out of Euro qualifiers

Switzerland midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri will miss this month's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Georgia and Denmark due to a groin injury, the Swiss FA said on Monday.

"The attacking midfielder is suffering from a painful inflammation in the groin," the FA announced on its website https://www.football.ch/SFV/Nationalteams/A-Team/News/xherdan-shaqiri-faellt-verletzt-aus.aspx

The 27-year-old Liverpool player missed training on Monday and was instead examined in a Zurich hospital.

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic will name a replacement on Tuesday for their opening Euro qualifiers away to Georgia on Saturday and at home to Denmark three days later.

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Source: REUTERS
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