Kalvin Phillips has played 19 minutes of Premier League football for Man City since October; the England player has sat on the bench even with Rodri missing for the champions; watch Luton vs Man City live on Sky Sports Super Sunday this weekend from 1pm; kick-off 2pm
Saturday 9 December 2023 13:37, UK
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has apologised to midfielder Kalvin Phillips for not picking him in the Premier League this season - but admits he "struggles to see him" in his starting line-up.
Phillips has yet to start for the treble winners in the Premier League and Champions League this season, limiting his action to just 90 minutes of top-flight football.
The 28-year-old has continued to sit on the City bench even with Rodri missing, the latest example coming on Wednesday when the England international was an unused substitute for the 1-0 loss to Aston Villa.
Questions have emerged about whether Phillips will depart in the January transfer window, with Guardiola telling a press conference on Friday: "I don't know what's going to happen. I feel so sorry for my decision for him. I've said that many times.
"He doesn't deserve what has happened to him and I'm so sorry.
"The only thing I can say about him is I am asking for good personalities and characters and he is a perfect example. And after that I have to give him something and I didn't do that.
"It's just because I visualise some things and visualise the team and things - and I struggle to see him.
"I'm not very pleased [with myself] and I am so sorry for him. I will not say that [to him] because it is a business and I have to be a professional.
"But if one guy behaves [poorly], I don't care. But the way he behaves with the team-mates and everyone, I care. So that's why hopefully it can turn around.
"And I've said many times, if it comes to January and he stays, I'm more than pleased because he trains really good and he's a lovely guy and character."
Manchester City go into Sunday's trip to Luton, live on Sky Sports, on a run of four games without a win in the Premier League.
That has seen last season's treble winners slip to fourth place in the Premier League table, six points behind leaders Arsenal.
Despite the slump in form, Guardiola believes City could be better off facing the challenge of a winless run to improve results in the long-run.
"As a manager, I sometimes need that challenge. I think for everyone in the club, it's good what we are living," added the City manager. "I think it's necessary to live that.
"For a long time, [it was about] how good we are, like a cat [being stroked]. And maybe we need to say it's terrible. It's all beautiful and now we are not able to win one game.
"Maybe for myself first, I need that challenge to prove I'm a good manager to lift the players and hope for them to overcome that situation. For the players, it's a good challenge, to say: Aston Villa were miles better than all of us.
"We can say, 'wow, Aston Villa, were better than us, imagine how good the other ones are'. And the club, the whole organisation could say, 'we may be out of the Champions League next season. We have to work hard.'
"And I think we need it, after everything that has happened in the last few years, we need it.
"Nothing is going to change, the club will still be here. Even if we have a bad season, next season we will be back.
"But still, we are in December, not even finished the first leg and have a lot of games to play. The Champions League [knockout] competition, it's there. The FA Cup, we play at home against Huddersfield. We have a lot of beautiful things happening, we have to embrace it. We are saying that, all positive and with a smile, let's embrace it.
"The club we need it and I need it. Weeks ago or a month ago, I said: the club needs a shake, bad results can help you to lift that."
Watch Luton vs Man City live on Sky Sports' Super Sunday this weekend from 1pm, kick-off 2pm. The game can also be streamed with a NOW TV pass.