Phillips will be operated on but Guardiola does not rule out his return to the World Cup

Phillips will be operated on but Guardiola does not rule out his return to the World Cup

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Kalvin Phillips will have shoulder surgery but remains confident that the midfielder can return to the pitch ahead of England’s World Cup season.

Phillips, a key member of Gareth Southgate’s squad who reached the Euro 2020 final at home last year, made a £ 42 million transfer to City from Leeds United during the final season.

But fitness issues limited the 26-year-old to just three cameos off the bench for the reigning Premier League champions, with Phillips all but absent for Saturday’s 3-0 win over Wolves.

Now the defensive midfielder, nominated by England for the final pre-World Cup matches this month in the Nations League against Italy and Germany, appears likely to require an operation to address a persistent shoulder problem.

“It’s a shoulder problem again,” Guardiola said when asked about Phillips’ absence for the Wolves game. “Maybe he will need surgery in the next few days.

“It will take, not long, but a little longer because it needs [surgery]. Every time he’s out and he’s out, and the doctors say when you’re out three or four times with your shoulder, the only solution is to have surgery. “

It scores a blow for both Phillips and Southgate, with the former’s chances of flying to Qatar likely in jeopardy, and the latter left with a selection headache for his starting XI.

Despite limited minutes, Phillips would likely have resumed the double pivot with West Ham’s Declan Rice in front of England’s defensive line.

But his potential absence could force Southgate into a lineup change, with Jude Bellingham and Jordan Henderson among the options pushing for a starting spot.

England will begin their World Cup campaign against Iran in just over nine weeks, with upcoming matches against Italy and Germany providing Southgate with one last chance to see his team in action before the start of the season. tournament.

The Three Lions have yet to confirm Phillips’ absence from their squad for those matches, but Guardiola said there is “no way” he will be present in both races.

Asked if he can provide a timeline for the former Leeds comeback should he really go under the knife, Guardiola replied: “I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.

“But in a good way it could make it to the World Cup. I think so. But I’m not a doctor. The doctor says the only solution right now is to do what we have to do.”

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