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Pep Guardiola welcomes Kalvin Phillips back into the fold declaring the player 'wants to change'

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Pep Guardiola welcomes Kalvin Phillips back into the fold declaring the player 'wants to change'

Pep Guardiola welcomes Kalvin Phillips back into the Manchester City fold as he says the player ‘wants to change’ following weight loss… but offers a warning that footballers must be ‘PERFECT’ within 12 months – ‘even on holidays’

  • Kalvin Phillips was left out of Manchester City’s squad against Liverpool in December
  • The midfielder returned from the World Cup overweight leaving his manager furious
  • He was welcomed by Pep Guardiola with back-to-back appearances
  • It is said that he will definitely start in the League Cup against Southampton

Kalvin Phillips appears to be back in Pep Guardiola’s good books and could feature against Chelsea in the FA Cup on Sunday but has yet to receive another warning on the professionalism expected at Manchester City following his £45m summer move.

Phillips had time out after the World Cup finals but returned to City ‘overweight and in no condition to train and play’ according to Guardiola.

Phillips came on in the 1-0 win over Chelsea on Thursday and Guardiola said the midfielder has taken on board comments about his fitness and is in line to start against Southampton in the Carabao Cup next week.

Kalvin Phillips was brought back into the fold by Pep Guardiola with a series of substitute appearances

Kalvin Phillips was brought back into the fold by Pep Guardiola with a series of substitute appearances

‘He wants to change,’ said Guardiola. ‘Maybe it’s a good lesson for him for the future. A footballer has to be perfect for 12 months – perfect. Even on holiday, he has to be perfect. You can enjoy, you can do whatever you want but you have to be ready, because this level is so demanding. You have to play three games [a week], you must be fit. If you’re not fit, nothing. But, I said last week, days, he improved in his level.

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‘I do not know [if he starts] but for sure, the Carabao Cup, he will play. I had a feeling last week, he’s back, you know. I feel great.’

Phillips was inevitably subjected to ‘fat b******’ chants from Chelsea fans when he came on but Guardola dismissed the impact. ‘He has a sense of humour,’ said the City manager. ‘It’s funny for Chelsea fans.’

Phillips had a difficult start to his City career, failing to break into the first team initially before picking up a shoulder injury that sidelined him for two months. He returned just in time to make Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad, but we made two substitute appearances for England in Qatar.

The midfielder was left out against Liverpool in December due to returning overweight from the World Cup

The midfielder was left out against Liverpool in December due to returning overweight from the World Cup

Guardiola insists he still believes in his summer signing and that over time Phillips will adjust to the levels City demand of him. Guardiola said: ‘Listen, Kalvin was injured for a long part of the season with Leeds last season. This is the truth. He came and then couldn’t train, struggled, had shoulder surgery.

‘So every time, the training is gone. He fought to get to the World Cup, he got there but that was a long period without playing. In competition, you need rhythm and concepts [of our play]. But it’s not there [for him] in the last five or six years. But soon, we need it. Rodri can’t play all the minutes. We need Kalvin, just like we need all the players. We’ll try to fix it.’

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Meanwhile, Guardiola praised John Stones, man of the match against Chelsea and one of England’s heroes in Qatar. ‘He played an incredible World Cup,’ said Guardiola.

‘He was probably my first or second signing when I arrived seven years ago. I know him well. I know when he is stable at home, here [in his head]fun, then what player!

‘He’s had some ups and downs in the past, he’s had some injuries in the past but I’d say it’s part of the process to realize what he needs – he’s still young – to be consistent.’

Phillips had a difficult start to life at Manchester City after joining from Leeds

Phillips had a difficult start to life at Manchester City after joining from Leeds