Guardiola backs Mendy for key role at Manchester City for rest of season

Pep Guardiola hopes Benjamin Mendy can play a key role for Manchester City in the remainder of the season.

The French left-back made his latest comeback from injury as a second-half substitute in the second leg of City’s Carabao Cup semi-final stroll against Burton on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old played 27 minutes as City saw out a 1-0 win on a freezing night at the Pirelli Stadium to complete a 10-0 aggregate success over the League One side.

Mendy had been out since undergoing knee surgery in November – his second serious operation since joining City in 2017.

“It was good,” said manager Guardiola. “I spoke with him after the game and he said he (there was) no pain. He was a little bit tired but (had) no pain in the knee, and that’s important.

“And we saw in the few minutes (he played), he arrived three or four times at the byline, getting in the crosses and he’s a special talent.

“Hopefully he can, step by step, get minutes and he can help us in the last part of the season.”

Sergio Aguero (right) scored the only goal at the Pirelli Stadium
Sergio Aguero (right) scored the only goal at the Pirelli Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)

City’s place at Wembley was already a foregone conclusion after their 9-0 victory in the first leg at the Etihad Stadium but Guardiola still ensured there were a few senior stars on show.

Sergio Aguero scored the only goal after 26 minutes while Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Fabian Delph also all featured.

Phil Foden was given another run out while starts were also given to promising youngsters Eric Garcia, Philippe Sandler and Ian Poveda-Ocampo.

De Bruyne’s appearance was just his 14th of an injury-hit campaign, and only his eighth start.

Guardiola felt it was important to give the influential Belgium playmaker game time and even deployed him in a deeper role to help bring him back up to full speed.

He said: “I wanted to see Kevin with a lot of touches. He is a player who needs to be in contact with the ball and playing in that position you normally touch the ball more. That’s why we played that game for his training.

“He was a long time injured. You need the power in your legs and the minutes. We need him and step by step, he’s coming back.”

Burton, who are mid-table in League One, now return to regular business and a visit from Bradford this weekend but manager Nigel Clough will take much from the Brewers’ cup run.

Clough said: “There are three things you can get from cups – finances, glory and confidence. We’ve had all three from this cup run.

“There’ll be much bigger clubs wishing they were in the semi-final.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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