Pep Guardiola has predicted his “outstanding” right-back Kyle Walker will rise to the challenge after losing his place in the England squad.
For the second international break in a row, Manchester City star Walker has been left out by Gareth Southgate.
Walker faces strong competition for his position from players including Trent Alexander-Arnold, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Kieran Trippier, who was left out for the Nations League Finals but has regained his spot after joining Atletico Madrid.
Guardiola, though, is in no doubt 29-year-old Walker can fight his way back into contention for the Three Lions having played throughout the 2018 World Cup for Southgate’s side.
“Kyle, it’s a big challenge for him to show the manager from England how good he is and ready to come back,” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game at home to Wolves.
“In our sports life always it’s about challenge, deals, targets. He has one in front of him in every single game to show how good he is and come back in the national team.
“He came as an incredible, outstanding player and he still is, physicality strong and fast, we try to help him since we’re together to be a better player.
“We ask him many times to attack from wide or inside; Kyle Walker is a player who can do everything. But the opinion is of Gareth the manager, I’m not here to… he makes a decision to select and he decided the last two times.
“I respect it, Kyle respects it, Gareth does what he does for the national team. It’s a challenge for Kyle to show how good he is. My opinion doesn’t change whether he’s in or not, he remains an incredible full-back.”
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City signed right-back Joao Cancelo from Juventus in the transfer window and the Portugal international has impressed in the Carabao Cup and Champions League, but Guardiola indicated Walker will remain his first choice.
“Against Preston he made a step forward with all the kids, last game really good too,” Guardiola said of Cancelo. “Because he arrived late, not in pre-season, things we work on he was not there, it was different to his previous team so we need time.
“But he’s getting better with and without the ball. He’s understanding what we want and he played well in the last two games. Kyle I don’t have doubts about, Danilo played a couple of games last season.
“We cannot play with just one player. We survived with one [left-sided] full-back with Fabian [Delph] and Alex [Zinchenko] so we need this player to move forward, let Kyle rest and sometimes Joao plays to take his position. It is what it is.”
Guardiola would not comment on Bernardo Silva being charged by the Football Association following a racially insensitive social media post about City team-mate Benjamin Mendy.
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