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The “next” Phil Foden for Manchester City has already been discovered.

Wednesday’s encounter between Manchester City and a virtually inconsequential opponent at the Etihad Stadium will provide Pep Guardiola the chance to rest some of his star players.


There is no need to extend the legs of Kevin de Bruyne, Joao Cancelo, and other players since the Champions League destiny of City and Sevilla have already been decided.


Naturally, there are calls from supporters to start the youngsters when events like these are scheduled. At other times of the season, they hardly ever get to kick off games, so why not?


It often occurred with Phil Foden in 2017–18 and 2018–19, and it frequently occurs with Cole Palmer right now.


Foden made his City debut in November 2017 in a Champions League group stage victory against Feyenoord, and last month he signed a new long-term deal with the team. Foden is the shining example of what City’s academy can create. After making nine more appearances that year, he raised expectations to the point that Guardiola was regularly asked why he wasn’t playing the English teenager more often in 2018–19.


Palmer made his City debut in a League Cup game in September 2020, and by last season, he was a regular member of City lineups. The Wythenshawe-born attacker’s performances in all three cup competitions last season led to expectations that he would play a significant role in Guardiola’s squad this year, but that hasn’t been the case so far.


And there is nothing wrong with it at all. Palmer doesn’t play every time City plays a “weaker” opponent or when they are already ahead by a few goals for a variety of reasons.


However, Guardiola is well aware of Palmer’s abilities, as he suggested while speaking to the media on Tuesday.


When asked whether Palmer was healthy and available for Sevilla’s visit, the manager said, “Yes, he trained after the game [Leicester] and trained incredibly well.


“He doesn’t have to do anything extra or show me anything. He must be himself whether he plays or not, which I won’t know until I chat with the staff and medical professionals and see a practice session. He must have the qualities to play with us if he is here. I want players to give it their all in every game. He won’t need to do anything exceptional to impress me tomorrow in order to have another chance. Phil is here, and there is yet time.


That should help to dispel the notion that Palmer will be under intense pressure to succeed when given the chance to start. Of course, scoring a hat-trick on Wednesday wouldn’t hurt him, but in the end, Pep isn’t going to alter his mind about his next academy standout.


Palmer’s resumption of playing is a question of “when,” not “if,” as it was with Foden.

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