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Zinchenko to play for Man. City despite Ukraine invasion

Pep Guardiola says Ukraine defender Oleksandr Zinchenko will play in Manchester City’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Peterborough on Tuesday.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Zinchenko was an unused substitute for City’s victory against Everton on Saturday.

The 25-year-old attended an anti-war vigil in Manchester city centre following the invasion and sent a since-deleted social media message that was fiercely critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zinchenko was moved to tears by the display of support for Ukraine from Everton fans during City’s Premier League game at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Although the left-back didn’t play on that occasion, Guardiola on Monday revealed he is in the right frame of mind to return when City visit Championship strugglers Peterborough.

“I think it will be good for him to play and show the reason why he is here. He is a magnificent player and needs to play football,” Guardiola said.

Zinchenko has added his voice to calls for Russia to be excluded from international sport.

He shared a statement on Instagram calling on governing bodies to ban Russia and its athletes from international competitions and impose restrictions on the country concerning media and sponsorship.

City head to Peterborough after moving six points clear at the top of the Premier League with the controversial 1-0 win at Everton.

Phil Foden’s 82nd-minute goal proved decisive, but Everton felt they should have been given a late penalty for handball against Rodri.

The incident was reviewed by VAR, but referee Paul Tierney’s original decision stood.

Even Guardiola now accepts City got lucky and he said: “The pass of Dele Alli looks offside but, Richarlison, if he is not offside it’s a penalty.”

Guardiola, whose side were beaten in their previous outing by Tottenham, urged his players to rebuild their momentum with another victory against Peterborough.

“It’s one game. If we lose the next game the momentum is over,” he said.

“All the time Goodison Park was difficult for us. The celebrations were exceptional because we knew how difficult it was, a good example of what we will face in the last 11 games of the Premier League.

“Every game will be quite similar. We will have to suffer and struggle and we are able to face it.”

There was also a managerial departure in the top flight at the weekend with Marcelo Bielsa, a long-time role model for Guardiola, sacked by Leeds.

“I’m so sorry for him. His legacy is there, in the Leeds city and club, and I’m pretty sure with the players. His influence is massive,” Guardiola said.

“Unfortunately all managers are subject to results, and maybe they were not good, but the games played in three or four seasons at Leeds were spectacular to watch and I wish him all the best in future.”

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