Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Jack Grealish and Mateo Kovacic will not play for Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League clash against Red Star Belgrade.

The Spaniard was speaking at a press conference earlier on Monday as Manchester City prepare to defend their European crown.

So, what was said about Mateo Kovacic and Jack Grealish? Let’s take a look…

What’s the story?

Well, the England international and the Croatia international are struggling with thigh and back injuries respectively.

While neither issue is believed to be serious, Tuesday’s encounter against Red Star Belgrade comes too soon for both Grealish and Kovacic.

When asked about the duo, the Manchester Evening News quote Guardiola as saying: “They are getting better, not for tomorrow. Hopefully Nottingham (Forest on Saturday) or next games.

“We need them soon, we need Jack to compete with Jeremy, the feeling to play good, to be in the squad. Difficult to stay (fit) for a long time. It happens, we accept it.”

grealish kovacic manchester city
Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

Manchester City will also be without Kevin De Bruyne once again – who is set to be sidelined until 2024 – while John Stones is also yet to recover from a muscle problem.

Who is expected to replace Grealish and Kovacic for Manchester City?

These absences have not come out of the blue for Guardiola, as he was also without the pair in Saturday’s 3-1 win against West Ham.

At the London Stadium, it was Jeremy Doku who started on the left wing instead of Grealish, and the Belgian shone as he scored his first goal for the Citizens.

In place of Kovacic, Guardiola selected Bernardo Silva to start in a deeper role alongside Rodri, with Matheus Nunes eventually coming on for his debut to allow Manchester City’s No.20 to push forward.

grealish kovacic manchester city
Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

That switch eventually led to Silva putting the Citizens 2-1 up, so Nunes could even be rewarded with a start on Tuesday.

While it is a shame to hear that Grealish and Kovacic are still absent – along with Stones and De Bruyne – Manchester City are well equipped to handle the situation.

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