Pep Guardiola is confident Manchester City stars Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips can recover from injury in time to play for England at the World Cup.
Walker has been sidelined since suffering an abdominal injury against Manchester United in early October, while Phillips is recovering from shoulder surgery in September.
Both players remain out of action but City manager Guardiola believes they still have time to prove their fitness to England boss Gareth Southgate.
“It’s likely, from the way they recover. From what I hear in the dressing room, it is likely they can be ready. You don’t play a World Cup every week,” Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday.
Former Leeds midfielder Phillips appears to face the tougher road to Qatar after playing for just 14 minutes this season.
Phillips will not feature in City’s last Champions League group game against Sevilla on Wednesday.
After that, the Premier League champions face Fulham on Saturday, then play Chelsea in the League Cup before their last game against Brentford ahead of the World Cup.
That gives Phillips little time to show he is ready for World Cup duty.
Asked when Phillips might return, Guardiola said: “I don’t know. He’s doing partial training sessions with the team, so not contact yet, but we will see the evolution and the needs.
“I know how important the World Cup is but I’m not going to use a player if they are not ready in physicality or rhythm. We will evaluate if he is in the best condition to play.
“We’ve been impressed with Kyle’s recovery but he is late compared to Kalvin.”
Guardiola also revealed City will be without top scorer Erling Haaland for the visit of Sevilla.
The Norway striker, who has netted 22 times in 16 City appearances, missed Saturday’s victory at Leicester while suffering from a fever and with a foot problem.
With already assured of progressing to the last 16 as group winners, Guardiola has no intention of risking Haaland.
“He feels better but still not 100 per cent. There is no point risking him. Hopefully we can have him against Fulham,” he said.
With the World Cup starting in just three weeks, Guardiola will have time for a rest when the Premier League shuts down until December 26.
“The best way to enjoy the (World Cup) matches is at home with red wine!” he said.
“We will have one or two weeks off and then we will come here, maybe go to Abu Dhabi, maybe organise a friendly game.
“It’s not definitive but we will train, come back on November 28 and be ready as much as possible.”
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