Pep Guardiola has warned Jack Grealish that he must hit the ground running when he makes his return to Manchester City’s starting line-up if he is to hold down his place in the team. Grealish has struggled to break into Man City’s starting 11 this season and has started just seven Premier League matches. “I cannot give players three or four games to get their rhythm,” Guardiola said.

Pep Guardiola feels Jack Grealish’s recent performances do not warrant a place in Manchester City’s starting 11, as the midfielder finds himself struggling for game time.

Grealish has not started a Premier League game since the end of December against Sheffield United in a 2-0 win, one of his seven league starts this term.

The Spanish manager has put Grealish’s lack of minutes down to his performances, which he says must improve if he wants to return to the side.

“He is the same player, he has the same manager, and the way we play has not changed,” Guardiola explained.

“It’s just the way he has performed. That’s the difference.

“I said from day one, we need him. He has a special quality for our team. But it depends on him. Hopefully, he can do a good last three months.”

Grealish, who joined Man City from Aston Villa in 2021 for a then-British record of £100 million, started 28 top-flight games in City’s treble-winning season last campaign.

The England international started both the FA Cup and Champions League finals but has failed to feature in Man City’s star-studded line-up from the start since the turn of the year, and most recently spent wins against Brentford and at Bournemouth on the bench.

“I cannot give players three or four games to get their rhythm,” Guardiola added. “They have to find the rhythm to play for 20 minutes or 90.

“At a high level, the team don’t wait to be fit. You cannot give someone three or four games to be fit. What about the 10 who don’t play? They deserve not to play?

“You have to see the training sessions and all the small details. The players don’t have to convince me. They have to convince themselves that they deserve to play.”

The 28-year-old’s last start came against Copenhagen in the UEFA Champions League, where City claimed a 3-1 first-leg advantage.

He lasted just 21 minutes before he was replaced by Jeremy Doku after picking up an injury, Guardiola revealed.

“[His form] started a little bit late, but in the last month Jack is back in terms of many things, that’s why he played an important game in the Champions League in Copenhagen.

“Unfortunately, he had a setback in 10-15 minutes.”

Next, Man City travel to Luton Town in the FA Cup on Tuesday, which could be a good opportunity for a fresh Grealish to get some minutes from the start.

In City’s last visit to Kenilworth Road, Grealish played 90 minutes and scored one of his three league goals this campaign in a narrow 2-1 win.

He has scored three goals and has provided two assists in 26 games in all competitions this season, 19 of which he has started.

Source: Euronews

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