Coach Pep Guardiola claims football’s “crazy schedule” could “kill our players” and does not want his resting international stars to return to training with Manchester City too soon.
City are without a number of their star names on their pre-season tour of Asia due to summer commitments in international tournaments.
Sergio Aguero, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus have all been at the Copa America while Riyad Mahrez was playing in the African Cup of Nations, which concluded only last week.
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Premier League champions City begin their new season when they face Liverpool in the Community Shield on August 4.
“Some of them will come on July 29 or 30, others come back August 3 or 4. They decide whether to come back after three or four weeks off,” City boss Guardiola said.
“I don’t want them to come back if they are not fit, or if they are tired and have still not recovered from a tough season.
“We cannot forget we are starting the season and Mahrez hasn’t finished the previous one.
“It’s a crazy schedule and we’ll kill our players sooner or later, we cannot sustain it for a long time.
“They have to rest, but if the people want to come back a little bit earlier, they are more than welcome.”
Phil Foden, who was involved with England Under-21s, missed last week’s Premier League Asia Trophy in China but has joined the squad in Hong Kong this week.
‘DISRESPECT’ ALLEGATION DENIED
Meanwhile, Guardiola has blasted a report in Chinese state media as “false” after the Premier League champions were accused of showing “utter disrespect” during their tour of China.
Guardiola hit out at the lengthy commentary posted on the English-language website of Xinhua, the state news agency, which said Manchester City snubbed fans and only visited China for commercial reasons.
“I don’t agree but I should say too that it’s false. To make a statement like this they have to know exactly what’s happening in our club,” Guardiola told media in Hong Kong.
“I don’t understand how people can say that. Maybe one journalist is a little bit upset, I don’t know why. But it’s far away from what is reality,” he added.
The opinion piece, which accused City of an “attitude of arrogance” and lashed out at arrangements for Chinese media, brought a sour end to a difficult tour of mainland China.
A frazzled City — minority-owned by a Chinese state investment company — arrived two days late and played two games in four days, before heading off for further friendlies in Hong Kong and Japan.
“So we came here, 23 hours. One day later we travelled two hours by train to play in another city, then came back to Shanghai and now here, and then we’re going to Tokyo,” Guardiola said.
“And always with the biggest smile. We don’t sleep that well during the night but we had good training sessions. I’m impressed with all my players, what they have done so far.”