Guardiola eyes first-team future for Man City's England kids
Pep Guardiola wants to bring through English talent into his Manchester City first team as three of the club's young stars prepare to bid for World Cup glory.
England face Spain in the Under-17 World Cup final on Saturday in Kolkata after Liverpool youngster Rhian Brewster made it back-to-back hat-tricks in the Three Lions' 3-1 semi-final triumph over Brazil.
City midfielder Phil Foden, goalkeeper Curtis Anderson and defender Joel Latibeaudiere, the team's captain, all starred, with the latter now poised to lead out Steve Cooper's side in the final.
Foden has been training with Guardiola's first-team squad alongside fellow City youth products Tosin Adarabioyo and Brahim Diaz this season and earned rave reviews for some eye-catching performances in the International Champions Trophy.
His manager, famed for developing a golden generation at Barcelona, is suitably impressed.
"The young players like Phil Foden and others, they play when they deserve. At the end of the day it's up to him," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of City's Premier League match at West Brom.
"About their quality, it is up to us to help them develop. We have no doubt about Phil Foden's quality and the other guys but we must be calm.
"The problem we have here in England, I have said many times, is in the second teams the competition is not that high. The gap from there to the top level is big.
"That is something that we will work out. It is good for them to go to the Under-17 World Cup and the more English guys we can bring to the first team, the better for us."
Guardiola confirmed Foden would have been in contention for the midweek EFL Cup tie against Wolves but it was decided the experience of competing for world honours with his country was more beneficial.
"Phil is training with us, like Brahim and Tosin, all this season. Joel came sometimes to some training sessions and helped us a lot," he said.
"We had the opportunity for Phil to stay here with us and maybe play in the previous game against Wolves.
"But we believe that when these guys have the opportunity to play in a World Cup against Brazil, Spain and others is an amazing opportunity."
Guardiola knows full well the tough task ahead of Foden and company but believes England can certainly hold their own.
"We are so happy for Phil, for Joel, for the goalkeeper. It is good, of course, for English football," he added. "Big congratulations to the team.
"Of course, the final will not be easy against Spain because Spain in the last decade dominated world and European football in all categories.
"But England are going to be really excited to try and win this competition for the first time. I think it will be an equal final."