Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has claimed Kalvin Phillips is nearing full fitness again having previously claimed the midfielder was ‘overweight’, while he laughed off chants from Chelsea fans regarding that comment.
Having barely featured for City since his summer arrival from Leeds and then playing a minor role in England’s World Cup campaign, Guardiola revealed last month that Phillips’ fitness was a concern.
During City’s 3-1 win at Elland Road just after Christmas, home fans chanted that Phillips was ‘too fat to play for Leeds’. The taunting continued in Thursday’s win at Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea supporters shouted ‘you fat b*stard’ at the midfielder.
But speaking after that victory and ahead of City’s second meeting with the Blues in four days, Guardiola was positive about Phillips’ progress and insists they both are seeing the funny side to the chants.
“I had the feeling last week that he’s back. I had a good feeling,” Guardiola said. “It will be a good lesson for him for the future. I had the feeling that a footballer for 12 months has to be perfect – even in holidays, you have to be perfect. You can enjoy it but you have to be ready because this level is so demanding. To play every three days you have to be fit.
“[Phillips] has a big sense of humour, it was funny from the Chelsea fans.”
Phillips has played just 57 minutes for City this season, but could be handed rare chances to impress Guardiola in Sunday’s FA Cup rendezvous with Chelsea and Wednesday’s Carabao Cup trip to Southampton.
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