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Guardiola Worried About Player Availability For Liverpool Clash

City are likely to be shorthanded for a Carabao Cup tie with Liverpool on Thursday after 16 of their players participated in the World Cup.

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Manchester City v Chelsea - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

The World Cup will draw to a close this evening as France and Argentina prepare to face off for the title, and the end of the tournament means club football will resume in earnest very shortly. Liverpool are set to continue their campaign against Manchester City in the Carabao League Cup on Thursday.

Each side has one player that will take part in the World Cup final today with Liverpool’s Ibrahima Konaté suiting up for France and City’s Julián Álvarez representing Argentina. These two will surely miss the League Cup tie, but the availability of the players who were eliminated from the World Cup before the semi-finals is still up in the air.

Six other Liverpool players joined their national teams in Qatar, and Jürgen Klopp believes there is a chance all but Virgil van Dijk could be ready to go for the City clash. City, meanwhile, are in a much tougher spot.

Pep Guardiola’s side sent a total of 16 players to Qatar, and 11 of them advanced to at least the quarterfinals. While some of the 15 players who have been eliminated are sure to be ready to go for Thursday’s match, City’s manager is unsure just how many he’ll have at his disposal.

“At the moment, we have four or five players, and we will have to wait and see how the others come back,” Guardiola told the Manchester City website. “But we just don’t have players because the big brains of football decided this schedule and we are going to play this game.”

There is some clear disdain for the powers that be in those comments from Guardiola, and it’s not hard to understand why. The quick return to club play after an inconveniently timed World Cup was always going to make things difficult for teams that had players in Qatar, but 16 participants could make it especially tough for City to get back into a groove for the second half of the season.

“Some players are coming back now and in the next few days and step by step, they will re-join their teammates here,” added Guardiola. “People are coming back soon. Nathan [Ake], Aymer [Laporte], and Rodri, and later the players from the England and Portugal teams.”

Based on these comments, it seems safe to assume the five City players, including Kevin de Bruyne, who were eliminated in the group stage and Round of 16 will probably be available for Thursday. However, it sounds as though the ones eliminated in the quarterfinals have not returned, so it’s hard to imagine many, if any, will be available for Guardiola.

This should bode well for Liverpool’s chances to advance from a very difficult matchup.

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