Nemanja Matic believes Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford's omission from England's Euro 2024 squad can only be good news for Serbia. 

Gareth Southgate confirmed his 26-man squad for the upcoming tournament in Germany on Thursday, with a number of high-profile names set to watch the Three Lions' bid for a first international trophy in 58 years from home. 

From the preliminary squad, James Trafford, Jarrad Branthwaite, Jarell Quansah, Harry Maguire, Curtis Jones, James Maddison and Grealish have all been dropped ahead of the Three Lions' final friendly fixture against Iceland.

Manchester United forward Rashford was not included in the initial 33-man party, having managed just seven league goals for Erik ten Hag's side this season.

He will miss his first international tournament since he was first called up to the senior England team in 2016. 

Matic, who retired from international football with Serbia in 2020, believes the absence of his former United team-mate – as well as that of Grealish – will only benefit his nation when they face England in their Group C opener in Gelsenkirchen on June 16. 

The former two-time Premier League winner wrote on X: "I would always like to have players like Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish in the team, players who can decide the game with one move! Not selected, good news for us."

Grealish has made 10 appearances in the last two major tournaments, nine of which came from the bench as he was deployed in the role of an impact player. 

All 36 of his England caps have come under Southgate, but a stop-start campaign with Manchester City saw the 28-year-old limited to 20 league appearances in 2023-24, after he provided five goals and seven assists as City won the treble in 2022-23.

Despite helping his side lift the FA Cup for a 13th time last month, Rashford was unable to replicate the form that saw him score 30 goals in all competitions during the 2022-23 campaign, meaning he will not be able to add to his 17 England goals in Germany. 

Gareth Southgate says he is "excited" by the players he has picked after confirming his 26-man squad for Euro 2024.

It was announced earlier on Thursday that James Maddison, Curtis Jones and Harry Maguire had already been cut from the 33-man preliminary party.

It was later revealed that Jack Grealish, James Trafford, Jarell Quansah and Jarrad Branthwaite would also miss out on the tournament.

Despite leaving some big names out, and losing some tournament experience along with them, Southgate says he is particularly looking forward to seeing the attacking threat his team possess.

"I'm excited," he said in a press conference on Thursday. "The other night [against Bosnia-Herzegovina], we had a lot of experienced attacking players not on the starting grid. And we had a lot of goals in the team still.

"We saw some fantastic performances the other night which underlined some of that and in the attacking area of the pitch we're blessed with a lot of options and they're all slightly different.

"In terms of where we are, we're excited about what we have. There's always the unknown of that in a tournament, but there's a lot of experience of tournaments in the group, and of big matches with their clubs as well.

"It's impossible to say if it's the squad you wanted. It's the squad we've picked that we feel is best equipped in this moment in time.

"Sometimes you have to regenerate the group more than you're expecting, but that has already brought a hunger and a competitiveness."

Maddison and Grealish were two of the big-name omissions, while Maguire confirmed in a statement that he would be missing out due to a calf problem that has kept him out since April.

Asked about the decision not to include them in the tournament, Southgate admitted it was tough, but he had to base it on recent form.

"They've all been amazing with how they've dealt with it, but I know it's a difficult day for them and their team-mates," Southgate said.

"The fact is we've got some players who have been playing extremely well all season in the league, and we just feel other players have had stronger seasons - particularly in the past six months or so.

"Madders [Maddison] and Jack [Grealish] would have provided us with something different as well, and they've been tough calls. They're calls we've gone over and over and over as a group of staff to try to be fair and to try to use the right rationale.

"The decision on Harry [Maguire] is totally about his physical condition and his recovery from the injury. There is no other reason, as he is one of our strongest centre-backs."

Along with Maguire, Southgate left out two other centre-backs in Quansah, who will remain on standby with the squad for the Iceland game on Friday, and Branthwaite, while the injured Luke Shaw remains as the only recognised left-back.

"It's a bit early for Jarrad [Branthwaite]. He has had a fabulous season; it was good to get him on the pitch the other night," Southgate added.

"But of course, in an ideal world, you'd like that balance of left-footers. For him to be in ahead of the others, I don't think it would have been the right call at this stage.

"At left-back, that's why we've taken what I think is a calculated risk with Luke Shaw, one which I think is worth taking."

England will play Iceland in their final friendly before beginning their Euro 2024 campaign against Serbia in Group C on June 16, before coming up against Denmark and Slovenia.

Final England squad: Dean Henderson (Crystal Palace), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Aaron Ramsdale (Arsenal), Lewis Dunk (Brighton), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Ezri Konsa (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Newcastle United), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Conor Gallagher (Chelsea), Kobbie Mainoo (Manchester United), Declan Rice (Arsenal), Adam Wharton (Crystal Palace), Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid), Jarrod Bowen (West Ham), Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Anthony Gordon (Newcastle United), Karry Kane (Bayern Munich), Cole Palmer (Chelsea), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Ivan Toney (Brentford), Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa). 

Harry Maguire has confirmed that he will not be part of England's squad ahead of Euro 2024 due to injury.

Maguire was called up to Gareth Southgate's preliminary 33-man party but joined James Maddison and Curtis Jones in leaving camp ahead of Friday's friendly meeting with Iceland at Wembley Stadium.

The 31-year-old has not played since April due to a calf injury, but it was hoped he would recover in time, having been key for Southgate in previous tournaments.

Maguire trained individually on Thursday before reports claimed he had not been selected, and that news was confirmed by the player himself.

In a post on X, Maguire wrote: "I am devastated not to have been selected to play for England at the Euros this summer.

"Despite my best efforts, I have not been able to overcome an injury to my calf. Maybe I pushed myself too hard, to try and make it. Simply, I am absolutely gutted.

"For me, representing England is the highest honour. It means everything to me. If I can’t help the team as a player, I will support them as a fan – along with the rest of the country. Go and win it boys.

"Next, I will return to the supervision of the Manchester United medical team in order to prepare for next season."

Reports also suggested that Jack Grealish has been cut from the squad.

The Manchester City winger was reduced to a substitute role in England's friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Monday, but impressed after coming off the bench to assist Trent Alexander-Arnold's goal.

However, he struggled for form last season, scoring just three goals in 36 appearances in all competitions. 

James Trafford, Jarell Quansah and Jarrad Branthwaite are the other players expected to miss out on a place in the Three Lions' squad, which had to be cut down to 26.

Gareth Southgate is yet to decide if Jack Grealish will make his final 26-man England squad for Euro 2024, pointing to the fierce competition for places out wide.

Grealish made 10 appearances in total at Euro 2020 and the 2022 World Cup, but nine of those came off the bench as he played the role of impact player.  

All 35 of his England caps have come under Southgate, but a stop-start campaign with Manchester City has seen his place called into question ahead of the Euros.

Injuries and poor form limited Grealish to just 20 appearances across all competitions in 2023-24, after he provided five goals and seven assists as City won the treble in 2022-23.

Ahead of this week's warm-up friendlies against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland, Southgate said Grealish's attitude has never been in doubt.

"He has been really bright and he loves being here. He's had a good energy about his training," Southgate said.

"This season he has not played as much. I'm sure he would have liked that to be different but we know the qualities he can bring. 

"He is a player we enjoy working with and a character we enjoy having within the group."

However, with Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, Cole Palmer, Anthony Gordon, Jarrod Bowen, James Maddison and Eberechi Eze all capable of playing in the wide areas, some have questioned if Grealish will be retained when Southgate cuts his 33-man squad to 26.

Asked if Grealish was at risk, Southgate said: "I don't think we're defining that just yet. I think we know where we're likely to be. 

"It's hard to be quite so specific because we keep sitting down and saying: 'Okay, if it's this or this'. Then somebody else in the room says: 'What about if we lose that player there, or that one doesn't come through with his injury? Do we need another one in this area?'

"Time is our friend this week. It's worth using the time.

"There are a lot of good players in that area of the pitch and they are all competing. We think we know who the best have been across the season. 

"What we don't totally know is how many we need to take or how many we can allow ourselves to take because of the cover we might need in other positions."

Pep Guardiola is "pretty sure" Jack Grealish will return to his form of old in a Manchester City shirt after an underwhelming 2023-24 campaign.

Grealish was one of the poster boys of City's remarkable treble-winning campaign last year, but he struggled for starts this time around.

The 28-year-old was an unused substitute in the FA Cup final loss to Manchester United and did not feature at all in City's final four games.

Jeremy Doku, who joined last August, was instead preferred from the bench at Wembley and scored for City in their 2-1 defeat.

However, Guardiola believes City's club-record signing will return to his best next season.

"He will be back," Guardiola said. "He’s struggled this season and Jeremy has made an incredible step forward as everyone has seen. 

"But Jack will be back at the level of last season, I'm pretty sure."

City became the first club in English football to win four top-flight titles in a row, but they fell short in the Champions League and FA Cup, as well as the EFL Cup.

Star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has just one year to run on his contract, while others - goalkeeper Ederson among them - have been linked with a move away.

The reigning Premier League champions will also no doubt be looking to bring in new players as they prepare to defend their title once again.

"I know some players have to take a decision on whether they stay with us and some players might come," Guardiola said after the defeat to fierce rivals United.

"My sporting director says everything is fine for next year but right now, I don't know what might happen."

Jack Grealish has revealed he struggled away from the pitch this season, thanking Pep Guardiola for his support after Manchester City retained their Premier League title.

City clinched an unprecedented fourth straight title on Sunday, finishing two points clear of Arsenal at the summit as Phil Foden scored twice in a 3-1 win over West Ham.

Guardiola has now joined Alex Ferguson (13), George Ramsay and Bob Paisley (six each) as one of four managers with at least six English top-flight titles.

Grealish has been present for the last three of those triumphs, though his form in 2023-24 was down on a bright 2022-23 campaign, when he scored five goals and added seven assists in 28 league matches.

The England international only registered four Premier League goal involvements (three goals, one assist) this term, being limited to just 10 starts by fitness issues and poor form.

Speaking to Sky Sports after Sunday's trophy presentation, Grealish said of Guardiola: "He's an unbelievable guy. 

"I've had times this season that I've struggled off the pitch, I don't mind saying that, and he's been there for me so much. 

"He's a brilliant manager on the pitch but behind closed doors and in his office, he's helped me too.

"I'm so proud of some of these guys and happy for them. People like [Mateo] Kovacic, what a brilliant guy.

"He's played every minute in the last few weeks and then today he doesn't, and he took it so well. I'm so proud."

Reflecting on his own performances, Grealish added: "I don't feel like I've performed well this season at all. I performed better this year than my first year. 

"That first year I just wanted to win no matter what. Last year I played more, and this season has been stop-start. I played well in points.

"My standards are high so I feel like I could've played more in some games. I wanted to play as much as I could like last season. 

"We have so many good players here so it's difficult. There's no team in the world that rotates like this team does but that's the beauty of it."

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes it is only a matter of time before England get over the line at a major international tournament and gives them every chance of triumphing at Euro 2024.

England are among the favourites to win this summer's Euros in Germany along with the host nation, France, Spain and Portugal.

The Three Lions were runners-up at Euro 2020 after losing in heart-breaking fashion on penalties to Italy in the final at Wembley.

They have also come close in the last two World Cup tournaments, making the semi-finals in 2018 and the last eight in 2022.

Guardiola, who has England stars like Phil Foden, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Jack Grealish in his Man City squad, drew comparisons his side knocking on the door in the Champions League for many years before their eventual continental success in 2023.

He would also have closely watched many of his former Barcelona players play a key role in the Spain team at Euro 2008, which would prove to be the first of three straight major tournament successes after many years of near misses for La Roja before that.

With Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham among England's options for the tournament, Guardiola likes what he sees.

"The national team? Really good. But it's not just the talent of the strikers, it's the whole package, the whole group. Gareth [Southgate] knows perfectly what he has to do," Guardiola told reporters.

"I have the feeling, everyone has the feeling, that the England national team, in the last events, the World Cup and European Championships, they made steps.

"They are on the verge, they are really close. They lost a final and got to a semi-final.

"When you arrive at these stages every two years, it's going to happen.

"It's quite similar to us – we were close and, in the end, we lifted it. Just believe it. If they believe it they can do it, believe it and they can do it."

The Euros begin on June 14 and England will be expected to top a group that also contains Slovenia, Denmark and Serbia.

Jack Grealish credits Manchester City’s togetherness for their recent success ahead of another crucial run-in in the Premier League. 

Pep Guardiola’s men are second in the table, just one point behind Arsenal with a game in hand, as they aim to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive league title.

City have already won the Club World Cup this season, beating Fluminense to earn the trophy, and they will also play in the FA Cup final against Manchester United for the second year in a row later this month.

Despite the hopes of back-to-back trebles being ended by their Champions League quarter-final exit to Real Madrid, Grealish is confident that City will finish the season successfully, highlighting the crucial strong bond amongst the team.

"I've said in a lot of interviews that, for me, the team I'm in now - and especially last year - it's just unbelievable, the togetherness we have. Over the years, there have been so many top teams in the Premier League that haven't done what we've done," he told Sky Sports.

"Even City's team in 2018-19, with David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne and Man United's team in 2008-09, with Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez - none of these teams won the treble.

"That says something about our team because you can have all of the talent in the world, but you need to have the other side of it as well, like that togetherness of the pitch. That's something we had so much of, and we've got it this season as well.

"With the experience we have and the quality we have, we don't really doubt ourselves.

"I feel like everyone knows how hard it is to win a treble. We did it last year, and it was one of the best feelings I've ever had in football, especially having played such a big part in it.

"I just want to finish the season strongly, try and win every competition we're in at the moment."

Grealish has struggled with injuries this season, managing 33 appearances in all competitions, and scoring just three goals.

Since making his return against Arsenal at the end of March, the 28-year-old has played in all but one of City’s eight games, and he is determined to make a successful finish to the season.

"When I'm injured, I start watching clips of myself and just remember how many good moments I have had in football. It brings back my love for football," he said.

"There's nothing that beats it. It's what I'm used to, and it's what I've done my whole life, so when I'm stuck indoors while the team are out training for a month or six weeks, it is difficult at times.

"Being injured certainly gave me that extra motivation to come back and just play well again and try and succeed with City. I'm over the moon to be back and, hopefully, I can have a strong end to the season."

Jack Grealish believes Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea gives Manchester City the perfect opportunity to put their Champions League agony behind them.

City’s hopes of successfully defending their European crown – and winning a second successive treble – were shattered on Wednesday as they were beaten by Real Madrid on penalties.

The defeat was particularly galling given that City had dominated the second leg of the quarter-final tie at the Etihad Stadium, but they have little time to dwell on their misfortune.

Attention has immediately shifted to Wembley and a key clash in City’s bid to retain one of the other two trophies they won in glorious fashion last season.

Midfielder Grealish said: “We’ve not been used to losing, especially in the last couple of years. We always knew it was going to be a tough game against one of the best teams in the world.

“It went down to penalties and it’s never nice to go out on penalties. Luckily enough for us we’ve got another game within three days where we can go and put it right.

“Sometimes it’s better when it’s like that. It’s better when you can put it right straight away rather than waiting and dwelling on it for a couple of weeks.

“It’s the perfect game for us to put it right.”

As well as being favourites for the FA Cup, City have put themselves in a strong position to win the Premier League for a fourth year in succession and a sixth time in seven years.

Grealish said: “This year, if we win the Premier League and the FA Cup it would be a hugely successful season. Hopefully we can go on and do that and that’s our aim.”

It has been a frustrating campaign in a personal sense for Grealish, although he has regained form and his place in the side in recent games.

The 28-year-old England international, who excelled in the treble-winning season, struggled to find consistency after an injury in the autumn and was then hindered by further fitness issues.

“It’s been difficult,” he said. “Especially on the back of last year, I had such a good season.

“At the moment, I feel good and I feel confident. At the start of the season, I don’t know, I just didn’t feel like I was playing well really. I didn’t really feel that fit if I’m honest.

“But I feel good now. I feel fit and I feel like I’m playing with good confidence. Hopefully I can bring that into the end of the season.

“We’ve still got a lot to play for. The season is nowhere near over yet. I still feel like I’ve got a big part to play.”

Grealish spoke recently about his determination to repay manager Pep Guardiola for guiding him through his difficult spell and he remains keen to deliver for the City boss.

He said: “I’ve got a really good relationship with him. I’ve said before that he’s the best manager in the world, in my opinion.

“I’ve had my own problems, even off the pitch, and he’s always spoken to me and been there for me.

“Hopefully, I can help him and he can help me towards the end of the season.”

What the papers say

Gareth Southgate is the top choice of Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe to replace Erik ten Hag as manager in the summer, reports the Star.

According to The Times, Nottingham Forest may be forced to sell star players by the end of June to avoid losing more points for breaching financial rules.

Tottenham, Chelsea, and West Ham are all keen on England striker Ivan Toney, reports The Sun.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Jack Grealish: HITC writes that Manchester City might let the England forward leave this summer, with the club understood to be raising funds to boost their squad.

Alexander Isak: The Newcastle and Sweden striker is on Arsenal’s summer shortlist, says Football Insider.

Erling Haaland: The Manchester City striker limped out of training while on international duty with Norway, alarming his club, writes The Guardian.

Gareth Southgate has warned that Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish face a battle from England’s up-and-coming talent to make his European Championship squad.

Among the favourites to lift the trophy in Germany, the Euro 2020 runners-up continue preparations with March friendlies against Brazil and Belgium.

This summer’s tournament sees squads go from 26 back to 23-strong selections, meaning some high-profile players are in danger of missing the cut in well-stocked areas.

Grealish faces a fight to feature while Rashford, who has gone to England’s last four tournaments, is the same having under-performed for Manchester United in a season when his Belfast escapades in January made headlines.

Southgate said: “Well, (Rashford) has a battle on his hands with (Anthony) Gordon, with (Cole) Palmer, with (Phil) Foden, so we’ve got big competition for places in that area of the field,” Southgate said.

“What happens while players are with their clubs is club matters because they know the full story, they know exactly what’s gone on. Obviously we observe everything, we don’t miss anything.

“I don’t say behaviours off the field are irrelevant because clearly they’re not. But the key thing is we are mainly focusing on the performances on the field.

“He’s got big competition and so has Jack.

“These guys are playing well – Gordon, (Jarrod) Bowen. They’re scoring regularly, they perform well for the team, they defend well, they work hard, they compete and we’ve got really good options in that area of the pitch.”

Asked if there is a chance Rashford might not make the Euros considering the competition facing him, Southgate said: “I can’t guarantee anybody.

“We have to have an environment where…we know in certain positions who our best players might be.

“Kalvin Phillips I think is still in that position but, at this minute, I can’t go with that, so I’m hoping he can hit that form.

“We know what Marcus can bring to us but equally everybody has got to perform well between now and the end of the season. That’s the environment we’re in.”

Phillips was left out of March’s double-header due to his struggles for form and minutes since joining West Ham on loan in January but Southgate believes he could turn it around in time for the Euros.

There appears less chance of fellow Euro 2020 regular Mason Mount being involved after an injury-impacted end to life at Chelsea was followed by a stop-start time with United.

“The first step for him is to get back playing regularly for Manchester United,” Southgate said as the midfielder prepares to return from a four month lay-off.

“He’s had the best part of 15 months (sidelined), really, because the end of Chelsea he didn’t play with the injury.

“So, he’s got to get back playing, he’s got to find the rhythm, find the fitness, the sharpness.

“But, again, we know what he’s capable of, so he’s somebody that we’ve kept contact with through that period.

“But at the moment you’d have to say he’s an outside bet. I think he would accept that.

“But it’s possible, he’s just got to, like they all have, play well for his club.”

One player playing regularly in a top European league that definitely will not be in England’s Euros squad is Mason Greenwood.

The 22-year-old was suspended by United in January 2022 over allegations relating to a young woman after images and videos were posted online.

Greenwood faced charges including attempted rape and assault but the Crown Prosecution Service announced in February 2023 that the case had been discontinued.

The one-cap England forward has recommenced his career on loan at LaLiga outfit Getafe on loan and Jamaica are interested in him switching to their national set-up.

“Well, for me, I don’t think it’s something for pre-Euros,” Southgate said.

“I think allowing him to get his career going again abroad appears to have been a good move but I have to say I have not tracked it closely.

“I think at this moment in time that would be a big distraction for the team and let’s see where that leads next season.

“I would need to know more details about the whole thing before it was an option.”

Pep Guardiola hopes to have the Jack Grealish of last season back for the closing stages of Manchester City’s latest push for silverware.

Grealish, a key part of City’s treble success last season, has endured a frustrating campaign this time around.

He missed a month early in the season with a dead leg and a groin problem has limited him to just one appearance in City’s last seven games.

The 28-year-old also had a spell out through illness and had personal matters to deal with after a high-profile burglary at his home.

His form has suffered and, with other players excelling in his place, he has not been able to get a consistent run in the side.

Yet he could return as City take on Newcastle in the FA Cup quarter-finals at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and Guardiola believes the player can get back to his best.

The City manager said: “We’ll see. We have this game and then two weeks where he will work hard and as clever as possible to be ready when we come back.

“He’s trained the last two or three days really good. He feels good and positive.

“Saturday maybe we’ll need him and then he has these two weeks especially to work well and come back.

“Then we can have the Jack that unfortunately this season we had few, few times – and he can help us.

“Always we dream of arriving at the last international break of the season in all competitions.

“Jack has helped us but not like last season. That’s why the most important thing is to recover well from this minor injury and take a good condition in case we need him.

“I’m not going to say how important Jack is – of course he is. But he has to be ready.”

City will come up against one of world football’s standout players in Jude Bellingham when they face Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Champions League next month.

The holders have been drawn against the Spanish giants for a third successive season and Guardiola recognises they are a tougher proposition with the Englishman in their midfield.

City overpowered Real in last year’s semi-finals with a 4-0 win in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola said of Bellingham: “His impact has been massive. It’s a different team from last season. His influence is obvious, and we have to try to discover what he does to control it.

“Facing Real Madrid is always a tough challenge, nobody can deny it. They are an exceptional club, and in this competition can control many things with the experience they have had in the past.

“We have made steps in the last few years but it could be so difficult.”

Pep Guardiola is ready for the challenge as he takes champions Manchester City to Liverpool for a crucial Premier League title showdown on Sunday.

City head to Merseyside trailing Jurgen Klopp’s side by a point for a match of huge significance at the top of the table.

Guardiola’s side go into the game as favourites to win the title for what would be a fourth successive season, and a sixth time in seven years, but their record at Anfield is poor.

City have won just once there in front of a crowd since 1981, and that was as long ago as 2003.

They did pull off a convincing 4-1 win three years ago but that was behind closed doors and the atmosphere will be considerably different this time.

“It’s the quality of their team,” said Guardiola when asked why City have struggled to win at the ground.

“The crowd too, of course, but especially the quality of the team. I think it will be nice because it always has been and we accept the challenge.”

Guardiola has tried to downplay the hype surrounding the fixture and refused to get drawn into the war of words that has erupted between some of the players in the build-up.

Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold this week claimed winning trophies means more to his club while City’s Erling Haaland and Ruben Dias responded by pointing out he could not know how it feels to win the treble.

Guardiola’s selection for the midweek Champions League stroll against FC Copenhagen, in which he made seven changes, suggested he had an eye on Anfield.

Yet he insists he did not turn his attention to Liverpool until after completing the job against the Danes, with City safely through to the quarter-finals for a seventh successive year.

Guardiola said: “Knowing we had three days until Sunday, we had time. I enjoyed the qualification for the Champions League and Thursday morning I started to think about Liverpool.

“We saw some details and the shape they attack is a little bit different from previous seasons, and the quality of some players and new players makes the game a little bit different.

“But the main patterns are the same. We know it quite well and I think they know us.

“There are just little details we have to adjust, for the quality of individual players they have.”

City are still without Jack Grealish due to a groin injury while Jeremy Doku, who missed the Copenhagen encounter, will be assessed.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has urged Jack Grealish to seize an opportunity to finish the season strongly.

The England midfielder has so far this term been unable to reproduce the influential form he played in last year’s treble success.

The 28-year-old’s campaign has twice been interrupted by injury and there was also an unsettling off-field incident when his house was burgled while members of his family and girlfriend were in the property.

His latest setback came when he suffered a groin injury during City’s Champions League game at FC Copenhagen earlier this month but, after a speedy recovery, he was an unused substitute at Bournemouth on Saturday.

He could come back into the reckoning for Tuesday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Luton and Guardiola hopes he can make the most of it.

Guardiola said: “He started a bit late but (in) the last month Jack is back in terms of many things.

“That’s why he played an important game in the Champions League in Copenhagen. Unfortunately there was a setback after 10-15 minutes but he’s recovered quick and he is back.

“Hopefully (he can have) the impact he had last season. It depends on him.

“I try to be fair with my decisions. If he played a lot of minutes last season and this season a little bit less in the beginning, he is the same player. It’s the same manager, the same way we want to play. Nothing has changed.

“It is just how how we perform, that is the difference. We need him. I’ve said from day one we need him. He has a special quality for our team. Hopefully he can do a good last three months.”

With other players in good form, however, Guardiola admits Grealish will have to hit the ground running when the chance arises.

Grealish must compete with the likes of Phil Foden, Jeremy Doku, Julian Alvarez and Bernardo Silva, all of whom have been in better form this season, for a place.

Guardiola said: “I cannot give three or four games in a row in order to get the rhythm.

“They have to take a rhythm to play 20 minutes, 90 minutes, in the high level. You cannot wait.

“I’m going to give you three or four (games) for you be fit and the other 10 players don’t play?

“They don’t deserve the same? Of course they deserve it but that’s not how it works.

“You have to see in the training session, every moment all details.

“He’s the same lovely person, lovely guy, same qualities, skills. He has even more years to improve.

“So the players don’t have to convince me. They have to convince themselves that they deserve to play.”

Jack Grealish has been ruled out of Manchester City’s clash with Chelsea on Saturday.

The England international was forced off with a groin injury in the first half of City’s Champions League win at FC Copenhagen on Tuesday.

Manager Pep Guardiola is still to learn the full extent of the 28-year-old’s problem but this weekend’s Premier League visit of the Londoners comes too soon for him to feature.

Guardiola said: “Jack will not be ready. I don’t know (how long he will be out). I didn’t speak with the doctors. I only know he’s not available for tomorrow.”

The game will see the return of Cole Palmer to the Etihad Stadium.

The 21-year-old City academy graduate, who moved to Stamford Bridge last August, has been one of Chelsea’s standout players this season.

Guardiola insists he pleased to see Palmer, a member of last season’s treble-winning squad, making such an impact and can understand why he chose to move on.

“Of course (we’re pleased for him),” said Guardiola. “He is a lovely lad and he helped us to achieve what we achieved.

“We didn’t have any doubts about his quality. The way he is playing, he’s a star player. He’s already an exceptional player.

“He moved on to get the minutes he has. It was just a matter of time and he has shown his quality.”

City drew 4-4 with Chelsea, with Palmer scoring a late equaliser from the penalty spot, when the sides met in November.

Chelsea’s form has been inconsistent this term and they remain in mid-table but Guardiola knows it is not a game his title-chasing side can afford to take lightly.

He said: “It’s an exceptional team in all departments, (it’s) one of the toughest games we have until the end of the season.

“They’ve been playing really good in the last games. They have everything – intensity and quality.

“Most teams are defined by if they don’t lose the ball and it’s difficult to find a player who loses the ball. They are a really good team, it’s a tough one tomorrow.”

City, chasing a fourth successive league crown, are the firm title favourites but they are currently in a tight battle with Liverpool and Arsenal.

Guardiola said: “When you arrive at the last eight to 10 games we will see how many teams will be involved.

“I think these three will be there but the distance between fourth and fifth is also so minor.

“It doesn’t matter if there are two, three or four as long as we win our games. Win our games and do our job – the rest doesn’t matter.”

City will also assess Bernardo Silva after the Portuguese suffered an ankle knock in Denmark but Mateo Kovacic is back in contention.

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