Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hints at return for Gabriel Jesus in FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal

Ian Whittell
The Telegraph
Pep Guardiola (left), the Manchester United manager, has said Gabriel Jesus will travel to Wembley Stadium on Sunday though is unlikely to feature from the start - PA Wire
Pep Guardiola (left), the Manchester United manager, has said Gabriel Jesus will travel to Wembley Stadium on Sunday though is unlikely to feature from the start - PA Wire

Pep Guardiola has opened up the tantalising prospect of Gabriel Jesus, the teenage Brazilian, starting in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal at Wembley following his recovery from a broken metatarsal.

The chances of Jesus, who scored three goals in four league games after making his debut against Tottenham in January, are slender.

But it does appear likely he will at least be on the bench as Guardiola goes in search of his first trophy in English football as he reaches the end of his debut season in charge at the Etihad.

"No,” said Guardiola when asked if he had ruled Jesus out of starting. "He's really, really much, much better. Today he will take part in training with us. He's coming back with his happiness and we are so happy he's back again.

"We are going to travel with all the squad to Wembley, all the group, and he will be part of that. After that, we will see.

"All the squad are travelling down tomorrow and we will watch the match between Tottenham and Chelsea,. After dinner I will decide the team."

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Jesus scored a disallowed “goal” in his debut as a substitute and was devastating thereafter, quickly forcing Sergio Agüero out of the starting line-up, until suffering his injury and undergoing surgery in mid-February.

“He has made an impact,” said Guardiola. “You know how difficult it is to come into the Premier League and play how we play.

“In just 10 minutes against Tottenham he created two or three chances himself and 'scored'. He has an impact for sure. 

“In any case when players are injured, I am happy they are coming back, especially for him. He decides, he has all Europe in his hands, and he decided to come here and join us. We can’t forget that. 

“I am so happy he joined us here but then he could only play two or three weeks so that is why I am so happy and with Sergio and the other ones he will hopefully help us score goals until the end of the season.”

England defender John Stones is out of the Wembley semi-final, although he is expected to recover from a muscular injury in time for Thursday’s Manchester derby against United.

The FA Cup remains Guardiola’s only hope of ending his first season in English football with silverware to add to his considerable collection and he admits that the club’s owners may not be satisfied if he fails to win the competition.

“I think they will not be happy,” Guardiola said. “The expectation of the club is as high as possible, winning titles. And we are not able. We are not happy, I can completely understand.

“And we could have done better in terms of the results and even in the way we played because we wanted to be in the race for the title and in the Champions League until the end.

“Despite the fact that I am happy with what we’ve done, it is still not enough.

“But they have to decide. They are my bosses. The chairman and the owner have to decide whatever they want. But you are here asking every few days asking my opinion and I am honest.”

Yaya Touré returns to Wembley on Sunday seeking to continue his record of success there. On four big occasions for City – FA Cup semi-final and final wins in 2011 and 2014 and the League Cup final victory in 2016 – he has scored the key goal.

“I think we are the team who produce the most beautiful games,” said Touré. “We all do a good job, we’ve been doing it, I think. We deserve something. 

“Of course, I don’t take credit from Chelsea or Arsenal or Tottenham for being there. I think these four clubs, are fighting. They have all won trophies and I think the one who is going to win will deserve it.”

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