Pep Guardiola has reportedly been surprised by Kalvin Phillips’ struggles in Manchester City training and fears that the midfielder may not be able to catch up to where he needs to be.

The Citizens signed the midfielder last summer in a deal worth £45m but only saw him start four games across his debut season in all competitions, two of which were in the Premier League but only after the club were crowned as league champions.

With the new season just a few days away from starting, some behind-the-scenes information has come to light regarding Guardiola’s view on the Englishman.

Guardiola surprised with Phillips

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A recent report from The Athletic had this to say on the matter, starting with how Joao Cancelo’s early days at the club have been similar to Phillips’.

The report said: “Things got so bad for Cancelo in his first season that he could have left the club during the Covid-19 enforced shutdown, little over six months after arriving from Juventus. He struggled to grasp some of the elements involved in playing full-back for Guardiola, like moving into central areas of the pitch, and the coaching staff were alarmed at his level in training.

“It has been similar for Phillips, with Guardiola and his coaches surprised by his struggles and concerned that he may never catch up, but Cancelo’s example does provide some hope given the level he went on to achieve after such a difficult start.”

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While injuries did impact his availability during the first half of last season, the 27-year-old still managed to find regular playing time hard to come by, which won’t have helped his process of getting to grips with how Guardiola wants him to play.

However, if the midfielder continued to struggle in training throughout the previous season, this could be why he wasn’t a regular in the starting XI.

Looking ahead to the new campaign, with a full year and a recent pre-season period now under his belt, hopefully Phillips will have a better grasp of how things are in terms of the City manager’s style of play and will have a stronger chance of getting regular minutes on the pitch.

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