Kalvin Phillips will not be allowed to play or train for Manchester City until he is back in shape after returning from the World Cup with “overweight”, manager Pep Guardiola said.
Phillips was the only one of City’s five England World Cup representatives not to be in the squad for Thursday’s thrilling 3-2 Carabao Cup victory over Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola initially said Phillips was “unfit” and “didn’t arrive in the best shape to train” after returning from Qatar.
But the City manager has since revealed the midfielder reported being “overweight” and will not be eligible for selection or training with the rest of the squad until he has addressed his fitness.
“He’s not injured, he came (back) overweight,” Guardiola said.
Phillips made two substitute appearances for England during the tournament, in the 3–0 wins against Wales and Senegal, totaling 40 minutes. Ahead of the World Cup, he played just 54 minutes for City this season due to injury problems and now faces another setback in his protracted struggle to establish himself in the wake of his £45 million summer transfer from Leeds United.
Guardiola said he did not know why Phillips had returned in an unacceptable condition, but the player now appears to miss the Premier League game against his former club Leeds.
John Stones, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish all appeared as second-half substitutes against Liverpool, while Kyle Walker was an unused substitute.
“I do not know [why he returned overweight]added the city manager. “He didn’t get in the condition to do training and play.”
Guardiola rejected any idea that England was responsible. “No no no no. Absolutely [not].
“When he is ready, he will play, because we need him, we need him badly.”
Asked if he was disappointed in Phillips, Guardiola added: “It’s a private conversation with Kalvin.”
Guardiola imposed strict conditions regarding player weight and fitness as soon as he arrived at City in 2016.
Samir Nasri, the former City midfielder, was initially banned from training with the rest of the side in that first summer under Guardiola after he reported being overweight prior to the season.