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Manager says Manchester City ‘not ready’ to return after COVID-19 suspension

Manager says Manchester City ‘not ready’ to return after COVID-19 suspension

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his squad is “not ready” to return to the soccer field after the Premier League’s three-month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The league returns Wednesday — with no fans in attendance — after it was suspended in mid-March. Guardiola’s Sky Blues host Arsenal at 3:15 p.m. EDT at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England. Guardiola’s concerns are tied to player injury risk after the long layoff.

“We are ready to play one game, but three days after another and four days after another … we are not ready,” Guardiola told reporters Tuesday.

“We have to rotate and use all the players. The players are in naturally good physical condition. You can play after two weeks’ holiday — but not three months.

“But we have to start the season.”

Aston Villa battles Sheffield United in the first game of the resumed Premier League campaign at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday in Birmingham. The campaign continues with two games Friday, four games Saturday and three games Sunday.

Manchester City follows Wednesday’s matchup with another game Monday and a third contest June 25. The Sky Blues then have a break until they matchup with league leader Liverpool July 2 at Etihad Stadium.

Liverpool leads Manchester City in the Premier League standings by an impressive 25 points and will likely clinch the title in the next few weeks.

“They [the players] came back really well,” Guardiola said. “We have absolutely no complaints.

“But the way we are right now, like other clubs, we don’t know. [Wednesday] we will see the level of the team and from there we will see what we can do better. All the teams in the Premier League have just three and a half weeks.

“We know it isn’t enough, but it is what it is. Everyone suffered in this situation, personally and economically, and we have to adapt.”

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