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Pep Guardiola wants more from Joao Cancelo despite strong start to season

Manchester City v Club Brugge – UEFA Champions League – Group A – Etihad Stadium
(Image credit: Zac Goodwin)

Pep Guardiola will continue to demand more from Joao Cancelo despite the full-back’s excellent start to the Premier League season.

The Portuguese has shone in the left-back slot, with his movements forward and into midfield adding a dimension to the champions’ play that few rivals can match.

The 27-year-old former Juventus defender was signed primarily as a right-back in 2019 but showed his ability to play on the opposite flank on a number of occasions last season.

Cancelo has added an extra dimension to City's attack

Cancelo has added an extra dimension to City’s attack (Martin Rickett/PA)

This term, due to a lack of options, playing on the left has been a necessity and, with Kyle Walker holding down the spot on the right of defence, Cancelo has taken to the role impressively.

“Of course he’s playing really well, consistent,” said City boss Guardiola. “Especially with his physicality, he can recover really fast and well during the games. He can play every three days without any problem.

“But, at the same time, I have the feeling he can do better. Still there are margins to improve in some aspects that we have been working on with him since he arrived.

“I’m pretty sure he is open to accept it and we can move forward.”

City's Jack Grealish picked up a knock on international duty

City’s Jack Grealish picked up a knock on international duty (Zac Goodwin/PA)

City, who beat rivals Manchester United in impressive fashion in their last outing, return to action on Sunday as they host Everton at the Etihad Stadium.

The international break has come at a cost, with Kevin De Bruyne contracting coronavirus while away and both Jack Grealish and Phil Foden picking up knocks.

Guardiola insists he is not complaining – and admits he has enjoyed the break on a personal level – but concedes it is frustrating when players return injured.

Guardiola feels City have been unlucky with injuries

Guardiola feels City have been unlucky with injuries (Martin Rickett/PA)

He said: “We didn’t complain before and we don’t complain now. It is what it is.

“As a club manager it’s a dream as I have a week’s holiday. You cannot imagine how good it is! Look at my tan! It’s much better than before the United game.

“But, at the same time, I’m always concerned because every time, in the international break, we are unlucky. We always have problems with players coming back from the national teams, many players are injured and this one is not an exception.

“Every time we give them fit and they come back not fit. It can happen here or it can happen with the national team, but unfortunately it happens quite often there.”