Manchester City duo Jack Grealish and Phil Foden were photographed on a night out that apparently led to Pep Guardiola leaving them out of his side at Newcastle United on Dec. 19.
The England internationals both scored in the 7-0 victory over Leeds United in the previous match, but they were both dropped from the starting lineup at St James’ Park five days later. The duo was photographed out in a Manchester bar hours after the lopsided win.
The incident occurred while Guardiola was out of town, having left immediately following the win to attend Sergio Aguero’s retirement press conference.
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Guardiola made the changes for the Newcastle match after warning his players that those that do not behave in the correct manner will not play.
Guardiola reprimands Grealish & Foden
Asked if the changes were because of rotation following the 4-0 victory over Newcastle, Guardiola told BBC 5Live: “Not rotation, no. I decided for this team because they deserved to play today, these guys and not the other ones.
“At Christmas time I pay a lot of attention to behavior on and off the pitch. And when off the pitch is not proper they are not going to play. So we have to be focused all the time because of distractions at Christmas time and everything that happens — you have to still be focused.”
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It was a biting comment by the manager, one clearly directed at the pair as an example of how such conduct will be handled.
After starting the first seven Premier League matches of the season, Grealish has seen less time of late. He has started just three of the last five league matches, completing the full 90 minutes in just one. Foden has also been rotated more in the last few weeks, also with just one full 90-minute performance in the last five games.
What’s next for City duo?
Neither Grealish nor Foden came off the bench in the win over Newcastle, with Guardiola using Stones, Fernandinho and Cole Palmer instead.
City has asked its players and staff to be vigilant against the fresh wave of COVID-19 that has hit the United Kingdom, with the Premier League already impacted as six matches were postponed in Week 18.
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The Premier League champions have so far escaped having to rearrange any fixtures, although Guardiola had to cancel his pre-match press conference after a lateral flow test provided an inconclusive result though he tested negative later that day.
The Premier League insists that it has no plans to interrupt the planned fixture schedule in spite of the new outbreak this winter.
Both Grealish and Foden were back in training on Monday and will be hoping to reclaim their places for a busy festive schedule with games against Leicester City (Dec. 26), Brentford (Dec. 29) and Arsenal (Jan. 1) in the space of seven days immediately after Christmas Day.