Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has issued a public apology to Riyad Mahrez after denying the Algeria international five Premier League appearances already this year, admitting that it’s his fault the former Leicester City star has been left out.
The 27-year-old winger has made just two league appearances since the turn of the year, getting a five-minute cameo appearance against Arsenal before registering 20 minutes at the end of their 6-0 win against Chelsea.
Mahrez’s recent form for the Citizens has been called into question and many believe that it’s the reason he is being left out by Guardiola.
But the Manchester City boss refuses to put any blame at Mahrez’s feet, instead insisting that the forward is simply being left out due to the form of the club’s other attacking players.
“I am the reason [he has not played]. He is absolutely not guilty,” Guardiola said, quoted by Sky Sports. “I am sad because he is training incredibly. He is an incredibly talented player but at this moment we have five strikers. In the last games, Leroy [Sané] hasn’t played.
“We have incredible players, like for example Bernardo [Silva] and Raz [Sterling] in
“He is a guy we are happy with but unfortunately I am not kind with him. In fact, I cannot give him the minutes he deserves, so I’m sorry. That’s all I can say.”
Mahrez could be in line for a third consecutive start in the FA Cup on Saturday when Manchester City look to avoid another upset when they travel to South Wales to take on Newport County.
Michael Flynn’s side, who play in League Two, have already beaten former Premier League champions Leicester City during their current run, as well as Championship outfit Middlesbrough.