Pep Guardiola jokes he could play for much-changed Man City in Newcastle cup tie

Pep Guardiola has joked he may come out of retirement for Manchester City’s Carabao Cup trip to Newcastle.

The treble winners are three games into a run of seven matches in three weeks and manager Guardiola intends to make changes for Wednesday’s third-round tie at St James’ Park.

However, with injuries affecting the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, John Stones, Mateo Kovacic and Bernardo Silva, the options for rotation among his main first-team squad are actually limited.

Pep Guardiola challenges Kanu
Guardiola (left) was a Champions League winner as a player with Barcelona (Toby Melville/PA)

That has prompted the former Barcelona midfielder to jest that at 52, 17 years after calling time on a distinguished playing career – and notwithstanding his recent back surgery – he could lace up his boots once again.

He said: “Some players who’ve had a lot of minutes are not going to play against Newcastle.

“The Carabao Cup is great for all the guys who don’t play regularly. They can play some minutes and that’s perfect.

“But for the other players I’m not going to waste one per cent of energy for Carabao Cup. The likes of Kyle (Walker), Ruben (Dias) – playing 90 minutes for us, 90 for the national team, they are exhausted already.

“That’s why we are going to play with the guys who need it, the Academy, maybe me. My back is getting better so I might manage a few minutes!”


One decision taken out of Guardiola’s hands is the availability of Rodri after his sending off against Nottingham Forest on Saturday. The Spain midfielder picked up an automatic three-game ban for violent conduct for raising his hands to the neck of Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White in City’s 2-0 Premier League win at the Etihad Stadium.

It is unlikely Rodri would have been involved at Newcastle but his absence against Wolves next weekend, and particularly Arsenal on October 8, could prove costly.

Guardiola was rather more serious when expressing his anger over the conduct of his key holding midfielder on Saturday.

It seems unlikely the club will appeal against his suspension.

Guardiola said: “I have to talk with the club but I’m not going to change it. For me it’s not three games, but the rules are the rules. Part of that, he has to learn, and hopefully it won’t happen again.”

Rodri’s absence could offer a chance for England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who has found opportunities limited since his arrival from Leeds in the summer of 2022.

Kalvin Phillips
Phillips could get an opportunity in Rodri’s absence (Nigel French/PA)

He played the final 39 minutes against Forest as City reshaped with 10 men.

Guardiola said: “He played really well, the type of game that we needed. I’m so pleased for him because he’s an incredible guy.

“He’s not fazed about his minutes and he’s a national player with England. With us he hasn’t played much but he’s really helped us.”