(Reuters) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he was surprised by Kyle Walker’s omission from the England squad for next month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers but backed the right back to regain his place.
England boss Gareth Southgate on Thursday called up uncapped Manchester United right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka ahead of Walker for the home games against Bulgaria and Kosovo.
Walker has played 48 matches for England and was part of the World Cup squad that reached the semi-finals in Russia last year.
“I’m not involved. We respect the decision. I think Kyle is coming back and is stronger,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game at home to Brighton & Hove Albion.
“Of course I understand it and we support the manager of the national team, and Kyle. I’m sure the players want to go to the national team and play but this happens, so you adapt.”
Walker also faces stiff competition from within City’s squad with Guardiola previously stating new signing Joao Cancelo would push the 29-year-old for a starting place.
“Joao we’re delighted with what we’ve seen and he wasn’t in the pre-season. Kyle knows things very well from pre-season and Joao starts to understand,” Guardiola added.
“Maybe tomorrow, maybe after the international break. He needs to be ready and when he is he will play.
“When we come back after the break we have Norwich and then travel to Ukraine (to play Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League)… three days later we have a game here and then the cup… that’s the start of the real season.”
Defender John Stones, who missed City’s last two games with a muscle problem, is doubtful for Saturday’s match while forward Gabriel Jesus is recovering from a hamstring problem.
“They are much better. I don’t know if they are ready… if not tomorrow, they will be back for Norwich,” Guardiola said.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)