De Bruyne fitness boost crucial to Manchester City hopes - Guardiola

"And after, I have said many times, their families, agents, they decide what is the best for the guy". We want to cut the field always. "Perhaps then managers in the Premier League will have more courage to play them", said Guardiola.

"I prefer to try and do as well as we can, and I like to be in the four competitions for as long possible", he said. 'I never do something to trick.

"They don't compete really and that's why sometimes it's hard to put them [in the team]... that's why they train with us, sometimes they play in the cup, sometimes go on loan, to see how they develop in that position. I trust the groundsman, I never made a phone call to say do this to damage our opponents".

Current holders Manchester City go into the tie after a crushing 7-0 victory in the third round of the FA Cup against Rotherham on Sunday.

The League Cup was the first trophy Guardiola lifted in England but he admitted it is low in his priorities.

"Winning is important, we can not deny it, we are here in the semi-finals and it's one step to go back to Wembley, that's why we take it seriously in that game once we are here", he said.

Tuesday afternoon was only the second occasion he had sat down with chief analyst Carles Planchart to work out how Nigel Clough will approach this Carabao Cup semi-final. It is hard to get in, but we all try our best.

Championship side Rotherham found it tough going and an own goal by Semi Ajayi made it 3-0 before half-time.

Foden, Sancho and Diaz were regarded as City's three best prospects of their generation, but the club has seen Jadon Sancho leave for Borussia Dortmund and Brahim Diaz head to the bright lights of Real Madrid.

Guardiola has faced criticism for not handing enough opportunities to young players such as Sancho, Diaz and Phil Foden, who is also yet to be given a start in the Premier League.

"Last season he played incredible minutes but hopefully in the second leg of the season he will help us because we need him".

"On the other side, again, congratulations for our academy, they are working so well and in the end this is what happens, important teams in Europe want to sign our players because it's working really well".

  • Rosalie Stanley