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Dinamo Zagreb v Manchester City: Pep Guardiola backs Phil Foden to replace David Silva

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Phil Foden has made 13 appearances for Manchester City this season and has started three games

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he hopes midfielder Phil Foden can replace the outgoing David Silva.

Foden, 19, could start against Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday (17:55 GMT) with City already qualified as Champions League Group C winners.

Silva, 33, is leaving City after 10 years at the end of this season.

On Foden stepping up, Guardiola said: “That is our wish. Of course, David is a legend with the amount of games and titles, but we believe he can do it.”

The Premier League champions secured top spot with a 1-1 draw at home to Shakhtar Donetsk in their penultimate fixture and on Wednesday travel to face a Dinamo Zagreb side still with hopes of qualification for the last 16.

Ukrainian side Shakhtar are in pole position to finish as runners-up, but Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta remain in contention.

Guardiola had said he was “so sorry” for Foden when the 19-year-old came off the bench to score late in a 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb in the reverse fixture in October.

On Tuesday, the City manager added: “In some departments he can improve. Without the ball, because he is so young, sometimes he has to think more about decision-making. It’s normal for his age. His development is perfect.

“I never doubt in him. The confidence is always there. If he plays bad the confidence is the same. But always he plays with a high standard.”

Guardiola, whose side trail Premier League leaders Liverpool by 14 points following a 2-1 defeat by derby rivals Manchester United on Saturday, will be without Silva, defender John Stones and striker Sergio Aguero in Zagreb.

“David had a huge kick in the dangerous part of his leg and it was too much of a risk to play. John is injured for a few weeks. Sergio is much better, but is still not ready,” said Guardiola.

“I accept we will use young players because we have so many injuries. We will put out the best squad for the circumstances. We already qualified and the Premier League is more important right now than the Champions League.”

Match facts

Head-to-head

  • This will be the second competitive meeting between Dinamo Zagreb and Manchester City, following City’s 2-0 home victory in October.

Dinamo Zagreb

  • Dinamo Zagreb have only won one of their five Champions League meetings with English sides, losing three times.
  • Zagreb have never made the knockout stage of the Champions League.
  • They have picked up five points in this season’s Champions League, only previously bettering that tally when they achieved eight points in 1998-99.
  • Zagreb have won just once in their past 16 Champions League matches, beating Atalanta on matchday one this season.
  • With four goals and one assist, Mislav Orsic has been directly involved in five of Dinamo Zagreb’s nine goals in the Champions League this season.

Manchester City

  • Manchester City have lost just one of their past 14 Champions League matches, with that defeat coming away to Spurs in last season’s quarter-final.
  • City will finish top of their group for the fourth time in their past five Champions League campaigns, including in each of the past three seasons.
  • Pep Guardiola has finished top in his Champions League group in 10 of his 11 seasons as a manager in the competition.
  • Raheem Sterling has scored 19 goals in 46 appearances in the Champions League and could become the sixth Englishman to reach 20 goals in the competition after Wayne Rooney (30), Paul Scholes (24), Frank Lampard (23), Steven Gerrard (21) and Harry Kane (20).
  • Should Sterling score in his 47th outing, he would be the second quickest Englishman to 20 Champions League goals after Harry Kane (24 appearances).

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