Pep Guardiola has said that if it were up to him, James McAtee and Tommy Doyle would play for Sheffield United against Manchester City on Saturday.
City will return to domestic action on Saturday when they meet Sheffield United in the semi-final of the FA Cup at Wembley.
A clash with a high-flying Championship side will be no easy task – especially given City’s midweek Champions League exertions – but the Yorkshire side will be weakened by the absence of two key players.
City academy graduates McAtee, 20, and Doyle, 21, have spent this season on loan at Sheffield United, and have arguably been the two best players at Bramall Lane since the turn of the year.
McAtee has contributed eight goals and three assists in 33 Championship appearances this campaign, while Doyle has provided a calming presence playing in a deeper midfield role.
However, neither will be able to play at Wembley as FA rules prevent loan players from facing their parent club.
Ahead of the showpiece fixture, City boss Guardiola admitted that he would have liked the two youngsters to play against his side.
“It’s really good. Tommy has played since the beginning. Macca [McAtee] in the beginning struggled a bit but is now playing a lot of games,” he said.
“I think Championship is a good test to prove yourself. We’re incredibly delighted. Unfortunately, they cannot play, we would’ve loved that.
“In the end, we loan players to get experience. The benefit for their development would have been incredible but the rule is the rule and unfortunately they cannot play.”
The duo’s absence could help City to end a bad run of results at this stage of the competition. City have lost four of the five FA Cup semi-finals they have played since Guardiola arrived at the club, including defeats in each of the last-three seasons.