Man City V Stoke at Etihad Stadium : Match Preview

07 March 2017
Man City V Stoke - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Pep Guardiola bemoans high cost of English players

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has expressed concern about the price of English players.

Guardiola is likely to move into the transfer market in the summer to further reinvigorate a squad that is ageing, particularly in terms of defensive options.

One of his most important considerations will be nationality because clubs are only permitted to name a maximum of 17 foreign players in 25-man Champions League squads.

City currently have 18 senior overseas players on their books and were forced to leave out Yaya Toure from their European squad earlier this season. Toure has now been restored, but only at the expense of the injured Ilkay Gundogan.

City would hope to be in that competition again next term and with six players out of contract at the end of this season - Toure, Bacary Sagna, Willy Caballero, Pablo Zabaleta, Jesus Navas and Gael Clichy - there could be an opportunity to buy English.

But Guardiola, who this season allowed England goalkeeper Joe Hart to join Torino on loan, said: "I would like to have English players, believe me, but they are so expensive.

"I would like to play with English players. When I was in Barcelona I liked to play with locals because they feel something special, but sometimes it is not possible. The market is the market and it is not able."

Part of the solution could be to promote youngsters from the youth set-up and City have high hopes for a number of their prospects, including English teenagers Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden.

Guardiola said: "That is why the club has worked for a long period with the academy, thinking about the next years.

"With me or without me - hopefully with me - I would like to enjoy these four or five guys who are growing, and play with them."

Guardiola was speaking at a press conference to preview Wednesday's rearranged Premier League clash against Stoke, when City will bid to cut the gap to leaders Chelsea back to eight points.

Guardiola said: "We're focused on the next game. The gap is so big and it depends on tomorrow.

"The focus is Stoke City; what they are - Crouch, Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Allen - what they do, how they defend, how they attack; what we have to do to concede few chances, what we have to do to create chances.

"Every game is the same, we focus on that - not the points or the table. At the end we are going to see."

City captain Vincent Kompany has been training regularly after recovering from a knee injury and is back in contention, while Willy Caballero seems likely to continue in goal.

Meanwhile, Stoke striker Saido Berahino is determined to move on from his past mistakes as he looks to prove a point to himself at his new club.

Berahino joined the Potters in January to bring an end to his troubled time at West Brom - although it was only shortly after the move that it emerged he had served an eight-week Football Association ban earlier this season for using a recreational drug.

Speaking ahead of the City game, the 23-year-old told Sky Sports: "I have a lot to prove to myself first of all, and I think I owe that to myself.

"I've let myself down a lot, and it's time that I put it right and prove to myself I can be the player that was showing good signs (a few years ago)."

Berahino, who scored 20 goals in all competitions for Albion in 2014-15, has stressed his desire to create "great memories" at Stoke as he looks to find form again and properly move on from his past problems.

"I'm naive at times," he said. "Nowadays people are interested in all the wrong stuff, the bad press.

"Sometimes you just have to be stronger than that, and put your hand up and accept that you made mistakes.

"No one knows the full story, apart from the FA and the club. It's hard.

"But you have to take it on the chin. I put myself in that situation and you have to pay for your actions.

"It's done now and I'm just looking forward to putting all that behind me and creating great memories here."

Berahino arrived at Stoke having not played first-team football since September, and he has made four appearances, all as a substitute, so far for the Staffordshire outfit, without scoring.

As well as his first start, Wednesday's match at the Etihad Stadium could also see a return to action for Stoke winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who is available again after five games out due to a calf problem.

Bruno Martins Indi (knee) is a major doubt, while Marko Arnautovic (illness) and Glen Johnson (shoulder) could miss out as well. Wilfried Bony is ineligible as he is on loan from the hosts.