Pep Guardiola will take the mental health of his international stars into consideration as Manchester City prepare for a quick turnaround into the new season.

The Premier League champions went down to a 1-0 Community Shield defeat against Leicester City on Saturday, their former striker Kelechi Iheanacho coming off the bench to win and convert a late penalty at Wembley.

Guardiola remained without Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus after their respective runs to the finals of Euro 2020 and the Copa America with England and Brazil.

The sextet will return to training on Monday, while Kevin De Bruyne is still on the mend after an ankle injury sustained during Belgium's progress to the quarter-finals of the European Championship.

Aymeric Laporte – a Euros semi-finalist with Spain – must self-isolate until the middle of next week because a passenger on his flight back to the United Kingdom after a vacation tested positive for COVID-19. The defender has tested negative.

It adds up to a far-from-ideal preparation for next weekend's league opener at Tottenham, a fixture likely to be lent a tempestuous edge by City's pursuit of Harry Kane.

Nevertheless, Guardiola knows a return to peak physical fitness will come in time, even though he again took aim at scheduling arrangements by UEFA and FIFA in his post-match comments at Wembley.

The former Barcelona boss is more concerned about the mental strain endured by players who have been on a near non-stop schedule since returning to action from the coronavirus lockdown last June.

Asked whether his England players would benefit from being afforded an extra week of rest, he replied: "It depends on their heads. They have to rest and now they can be ready, but it depends on here [the head].

On whether his returning internationals would be ready to play at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Guardiola replied: "A few players get the condition so quick, others need a little more time. We will see the weight, the body fat, how they arrive. And especially their heads.

"There are players who play three, four or five days and their mentality is positive and they are ready to fight and suffer in the bad conditions. Some of them take a little more time.

"We will try to discover which ones are ready immediately."

Foden is unlikely to be among that group, given he must still recover from the foot injury that ruled him out of England's penalty shoot-out loss to Italy.

Stones was an ever-present at centre-back for Gareth Southgate's side, while Sterling and Walker were each named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.

"All of them, they played really well. I'm glad and happy for them. They have had many years together," Guardiola said.

"They made an incredible achievement. When you achieve a final in the Euro it's a big, big thing.

"They have to be so proud of what they have done with the national team. The benefits to the confidence will be there.

"But the past is the past. What you have done with the national team is for the memories. The challenge is ahead of us to do a good season."

Cristiano Ronaldo was the biggest omission as UEFA named the Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament.

Five players from competition winners Italy made the best XI announced on Tuesday, though there was no place for Golden Boot winner Ronaldo.

The Portugal forward scored five times, as did the Czech Republic's Patrik Schick, but Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku got the nod in a front three with Federico Chiesa and Raheem Sterling.

Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire were the other England representatives in the team.

But there was no place for fellow defender Luke Shaw, who scored in the final to cap a fine tournament, or his Manchester United team-mate Paul Pogba, one of the tournament's stars before France's elimination in the last 16.

Player of the tournament Gianluigi Donnarumma was joined by Italy quartet Leonardo Bonucci, Leonardo Spinazzola, Jorginho and Chiesa.

However, midfield star Marco Verratti missed out despite some influential performances in the knockout stages.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Pedri were the sole representatives for Denmark and Spain respectively, both teams having gone out in the semi-finals.

Lukaku also edged out Harry Kane, Karim Benzema and Emil Forsberg, who all ended up with the same goal tally (four) as the Inter forward.

 

The best players to miss out

Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer enjoyed an incredible tournament, saving a Kylian Mbappe penalty in his side's shoot-out win against France in the last 16.

He made a tournament-high 21 saves in total, 10 of those coming in the eventual defeat to Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals.

Denzel Dumfries saw his reputation enhanced during Euro 2020, even if the Netherlands were sent packing by the Czech Republic at the last-16 stage.

He became just the second ever Netherlands player, after Ruud van Nistelrooy, to score in his first two European Championship appearances, while also helping his side to a couple of clean sheets in his four outings.

Bonucci and Maguire earning selection meant their centre-back colleagues Giorgio Chiellini and John Stones narrowly missed out despite playing crucial roles.

England conceded just two goals all tournament, with only one of those coming in open play. A large part of that was down to ever-present defender Stones, who won 20 aerial challenges – the joint-second most of any defender in the competition, one behind Maguire.

Shaw was left out for England's opening game against Croatia, but the full-back soon made himself a consistent presence. He was even compared to the great Roberto Carlos after starring with two assists against Ukraine in the quarter-finals.

The Manchester United defender provided three assists in total and netted the fastest-ever goal in a European Championship final with his volley against Italy. Those four goal involvements were bettered only by Schick (five) and Ronaldo (six).

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Verratti was a major fitness doubt for the tournament and sat out Italy's first two matches, but made an emormous impact in the following five games.

Since his first game against Wales on June 20, all-rounder Verratti ranked first among all midfielders at Euro 2020 for chances created (14), passes completed (388), progressive carries (59), tackles (18) and recoveries of possession (37).

 

Pogba likely paid the price for his team's exit rather than his own displays. 

He scored a stunning goal against Switzerland after getting two assists in the 2-2 group-stage draw with Portugal, and his supreme link-up play with Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Benzema was among the highlights of the early weeks of the tournament.

Schick not only scored the joint-most goals, but he was responsible for surely the most memorable one of the lot - a 49.7-yard lob against Scotland, the furthest ever distance a goal has been scored at a European Championships.

The Bayer Leverkusen forward found the net in all but one of his side's games, with three of his goals coming from open play, compared to just two for Ronaldo.

Even though it was far from a vintage tournament for Ronaldo and dethroned champions Portugal, the Juventus superstar still claimed the Golden Boot accolade thanks to having one assist more than fellow five-goal forward Schick.

Ronaldo's 72 minutes per goal was the best return of any player to have played at least three times in the tournament. 

His haul also moved him level with Iran great Ali Daei as the all-time leading goalscorer in men's international football with 109, a record that he will get a chance to break later this year.

 

UEFA's Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy); Kyle Walker (England), Leonardo Bonucci (Italy), Harry Maguire (England), Leonardo Spinazzola (Italy); Jorginho (Italy), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Denmark), Pedri (Spain); Federico Chiesa (Italy), Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Raheem Sterling (England).

Kyle Walker feels England have set the bar for future generations at Euro 2020 following decades of disappointment and is convinced a rediscovered sense of national pride in the team has inspired them.

England beat Denmark 2-1 after extra time on Wednesday to secure a first ever appearance in the European Championship final, having not reached the showpiece of any major international tournament since winning the World Cup in 1966.

That 55-year period is the longest gap between major finals for any European nation, and now only Italy stand between England and the trophy.

The closest England had ever got to winning the competition before 2021 was in 1996 when they fell at the semi-finals stage, with the so-called 'Golden Generation' that followed defined by their underachievement as they never got beyond a quarter-final at the World Cup or Euros.

But under Gareth Southgate there have been strong hints of change, as they finished fourth at Russia 2018 and then also reached the semi-finals of the inaugural Nations League, and Walker believes the team's mentality is finally becoming aligned with the expectations of supporters.

"I think when you put on an England shirt – definitely in the past four years – it means something now," Walker told the FA's YouTube channel.

 

"I have heard a lot of people talking about how England haven't won a knockout game, England haven't won a penalty shoot-out, England haven't got this, England haven't got that.

"This group of lads – with the manager and the coaching staff – we just keep knocking them down and we have set the bar now for the future youngsters that are coming through.

"This is what our country wants and expects of us."

England will, of course, be considered "hosts" for the final given it – like all but one of their previous Euro 2020 games – will be played at Wembley, and there are certain advantages attached to that.

Although the past two host-nation finalists (Portugal at Euro 2004 and France at Euro 2016) of a major tournament lost the decider, prior to 2004 only Sweden (1958 World Cup) had been beaten during a final on their own turf.

The omens are generally positive for the Three Lions, who have won 15 and lost just one of their previous 17 matches at Wembley. While Italy will likely pose a challenge greater than most of the opponents in that run, Walker feels it gives England an edge – and he will not entertain back-handed comments about their status as hosts.

"These emotions and these types of games grab hold of you," he said. "We want one more effort from the fans – because that 12th man is vital.

"I hear people complaining now that England have got an advantage playing at home. But we never complained when we played certain people in their back yard, it is just the rub of the green."

John Stones extended his arm and held up a palm. Stop. Breathe.

It was time for Jordan Pickford to calm down. No time for bedlam.

The Everton goalkeeper headed into Wednesday's Euro 2020 semi-final encounter with Denmark in superb form, yet to be beaten in the tournament.

In the 27th minute at Wembley, Pickford moved on to 720 minutes without conceding a goal for England, breaking a record set by the great Gordon Banks between May and July 1966. We all know how that tournament ended and how none have ended like it in the 55 years and four semi-final defeats since.

But by the time Pickford pouched that piece of history, events had already started to turn.

After Kalvin Phillips erred to allow a shot from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Pickford frantically sought to launch an attack - his distribution often such a plus for Gareth Southgate. He hurled the ball straight at Mikkel Damsgaard, who understandably seemed a little surprised by that.

A passage of gasping, pulse-quickening mistakes ended with Martin Braithwaite having a shot deflected behind for a corner. England emerged unscathed but robbed entirely of their early poise.

Damsgaard, Braithwaite and Kasper Dolberg were finding pockets of space all across the turf, with England's plan for snuffing out Denmark's lightning breaks apparently amounting to little more than Kyle Walker being terrifyingly fast. He's terrifyingly brilliant, too, but still...

Too much was passing England's defensive midfield block by. Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips did not make a tackle between them in the first half. Tottenham's Hojbjerg, patrolling central areas expertly alongside Thomas Delaney, snapped into five all by himself.

Rice was caught napping by Dolberg, who was brought down by Mason Mount. That's what friends are for.

A relatively unthreatening free-kick became a threatening one as Luke Shaw wrapped his arms around Andreas Christensen defending the initial set-piece. From 30 yards, Damsgaard creamed a delightful strike beyond Pickford, who will think he should have done better.

 

In calmer times, perhaps he would. Then there was further skittishness, prompting centre-back Stones to intervene.

Contrary to Pickford's need to slow down, England's best moments came when they dared Denmark to find a solution to Bukayo Saka's quicksilver pace and Raheem Sterling's restless, relentless, intelligent movement.

Sterling started the game tearing mercilessly after the right-hand side of the Danish defence. He should have done better after cutting inside Christensen and scuffing a shot too close to Kasper Schmeichel.

A scuff would have done the job in the 38th minute, when Sterling met Saka's low cross sweetly and Schmeichel saved improbably. But the seed was planted – more ice-cool work in behind from Saka, more scrambled brains as Sterling made a nuisance of himself, with the result an own goal for skipper Simon Kjaer.

The contest continued in that vein throughout the second half, when whichever side found themselves on the backfoot appeared to be operating in a state of anguish. The occasion simultaneously fuelled its protagonists and threatened to blow up in their faces. Pickford saved sharply from Dolberg, unaware of the offside flag

Into the final 20 minutes of normal time and the highest stakes elite football was operating under park rules: next goal wins. Southgate's team are gloriously unburdened by England's tragicomic history. But no footballer with a pulse would be unburdened by such a present.

Jack Grealish was on but Kasper Hjulmand used his bench more boldly, sending on Yussuf Poulsen and Christian Norgaard for the impressive Damsgaard and Dolberg. Or was it more desperately, as Rice and Phillips (95.2 and 90.2 per cent pass completion) emerged from choppy waters to gradually exert control and wrestle the opponents deeper.

Six minutes of stoppage time: would you even dare? Sterling still asked questions of defenders with no remaining appetite for such trivia. Fouls piled up, bodies were on the line. This was how England tended to conclude big knockout games but Denmark reached the sanctuary of full-time.

 

Still Southgate kept his talent-stacked bench sheathed. Harry Kane fired towards Schmeichel on the angle. No one was there for the rebound. Fresh legs might have been.

And so, they arrived. Phil Foden instantly schemed with bad intentions, briefly lifting kindred-spirit Grealish in the process.

Sterling still schemed with bad intentions and found himself lying at the feet of Jannik Vestergaard, which felt mocking because the hulking centre-back looked like the biggest, tiredest man in the whole world.

The Manchester City forward was on the floor due to some combination of contact from Joakim Maehle and Mathias Jensen. Danny Makkelie ruled it was enough for a penalty.

Stop. Breathe.

Saved? No problem. Harry Kane never needs to calm down with a loose ball and a goal in front of him.

2-1. It was time for bedlam.

Gareth Southgate joked he would select more right-backs in England's Euro 2020 squad if he could, after four players who fill the role were picked in his 26-man pool.

Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Reece James and – despite several media reports to the contrary – Trent Alexander-Arnold were selected in England's squad for the tournament, which starts on June 11.

Liverpool defender Alexander-Arnold missed out on the March internationals and reports suggested he would be the biggest name to be cut from England's provisional squad.

Asked to explain his decision, Southgate told a news conference: "We went through this last week, yes we have four players who play sometimes at right-back for their clubs, Kieran, Reece have been playing wing-back or right of a three, Trent plays at right-back, Kyle Walker has played in the right of a three for us.

"Basically they're in our best 26 footballers and if I could have picked a fifth or a sixth right-back, I probably would have done!"

Alexander-Arnold has won acclaim for his attacking qualities, and Southgate last week said he felt the 22-year-old, who has 12 caps, could be versatile enough to play in midfield.

Pressed on that suggestion in Tuesday's media conference, Southgate said: "We're here to play nine games and we already have some injury doubts, I'm sure we're going to face other difficulties in the next four or five weeks.

"We need adaptability, good professionals, tactically savvy players – we're fortunate we've got old and young players who fit all of those categories."

There can be little doubt over his proficiency going forward, though there has been debate over Alexander-Arnold's defensive abilities.

In the Premier League, he made three errors leading to shots and one that led to a goal in the season just ended, whereas James and Walker made no such mistakes.

Trippier, who helped Atletico Madrid win LaLiga, made just one error that led to a shot. Alexander-Arnold's tackle success rate (58.9 per cent) was below that of each of his rivals for the England role (Walker 65.5 per cent; Trippier 63.9; James 63.6), and he was part of a Liverpool team that conceded a goal on average once every 76 minutes when he featured.

Trippier, a key part of Atleti's tight-knit defence, could point to the new Spanish champions conceding only once per 191 minutes when he was on the pitch.

In Alexander-Arnold's defence, he played far more minutes in league games than each of his rivals (3,033 - next most is Trippier with 2,477), and Liverpool's backline frailties were to a large extent affected by the injuries that kept Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip out for much of the season.

Should Alexander-Arnold indeed be utilised as an alternative midfield option, it may go some way to support Southgate's reasoning for leaving out Jesse Lingard.

Out of favour at Manchester United, the midfielder enjoyed a brilliant loan spell at West Ham, scoring nine goals in 16 league appearances as David Moyes' team secured European football for next season.

"Jesse's done incredibly well to get back in the race. Back in January he was a million miles away from being selected for an England squad," Southgate said.

"He had a good spell with West Ham, he's been a player who's played so well for us with England, we've got total trust in the way he plays, he's reliable, a great member of the group.

"He will play tomorrow [in the friendly against Austria] because we've got [Jadon] Sancho ill and we've got a lot of players not available and for the balance of the team he'll start, so he deserves that opportunity to go and show me that I'm wrong, straight away!"

Trent Alexander-Arnold survived the cull of England's extended Euro 2020 squad as Gareth Southgate named his final 26-man list on Tuesday.

The Liverpool defender, arguably the standout full-back in world football in the 2019-20 season, was expected by many to pay the price for a dip in form over the previous nine months.

England have riches at the position, and Southgate has also selected further specialist right-backs in Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Chelsea's Reece James.

The players to miss out as Southgate trimmed the 33-man group he named last week were Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White, with Mason Greenwood withdrawing from contention due to what his club, Manchester United, described as an "underlying injury".

Lingard had a highly productive second half of the season on loan at West Ham, but it was not enough to persuade the Three Lions boss.

Southgate said that decision proved "very difficult".

The players who were excluded will remain with the squad over the coming days and could feature in friendlies against Austria on Wednesday and Romania on Sunday, both of which will be played at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.

Southgate said Lingard was likely to start the game against Austria.

The inclusion of defender Harry Maguire follows concern over the Manchester United player's ankle injury, which ruled him out of the Europa League final.

Southgate said he had "a lot more clarity" over who would be available for his squad after United's clash with Villarreal and the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City.

Of those who missed out on his tournament selection, he said: "I know what a disappointment that is for them, not to be going to a major championship.

"With Jordan [Henderson] and Harry Maguire we have a couple of players who are not where they'd be ideally in terms of their physical prep. But we feel the experience they have, the fact we think we can get them to a point where they can have an involvement in the tournament, it's worth taking them, especially as we've got an extended squad of 26."
 

England squad for Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Trent Alexander-Arnold survived the cull of England's extended Euro 2020 squad as Gareth Southgate named his final 26-man list on Tuesday.

The Liverpool defender, arguably the standout full-back in world football in the 2019-20 season, was expected by many to pay the price for a dip in form over the previous nine months.

England have riches at the position, and Southgate has also selected further specialist right-backs in Atletico Madrid's Kieran Trippier, Manchester City's Kyle Walker and Chelsea's Reece James.

The players to miss out as Southgate trimmed the 33-man group he named last week were Jesse Lingard, Ben Godfrey, Aaron Ramsdale, Ollie Watkins, James Ward-Prowse and Ben White, with Mason Greenwood withdrawing from contention due to what his club, Manchester United, described as an "underlying injury".
 

England squad for Euro 2020:

Dean Henderson (Manchester United), Sam Johnstone (West Brom), Jordan Pickford (Everton); Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Chelsea), Conor Coady (Wolves), Reece James (Chelsea), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Kyle Walker (Manchester City); Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Kalvin Phillips (Leeds), Declan Rice (West Ham), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund); Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City).

Kyle Walker hailed Manchester City's defensive heroics after a 2-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain booked a place in their maiden Champions League final.

First-leg hero Riyad Mahrez scored a goal in each half, giving him three in the tie overall, as Pep Guardiola's side closed out a 4-1 aggregate triumph.

Angel Di Maria's petulant red card for kicking out at Fernandinho meant City enjoyed themselves against a bedraggled PSG during the closing stages, but it was not always that straightforward for the Premier League leaders.

Last-ditch blocks were a feature of a relentless defensive performance, with Ruben Dias' efforts to thwart Ander Herrera and Oleksandr Zinchenko's intervention to deny Neymar particularly impressive.

Walker also tangled superbly with the Brazil superstar and told BT Sport that City's defensive improvement this season has been key to them breaching new ground in Europe.

"Against top-quality players like that you need to put in a shift," he said, after City's back four high-fived their way through key moments.

"I thought John, Ruben and Oleks made some important blocks at crucial times and I thought we controlled the game well, considering the amount of talent they've got up front.

"It's a team game. We all go and celebrate a goal. We're high-fiving when we score goals but fur us as defenders the main thing is keeping clean sheets.

"I think this season we've done tremendously well in doing that and really sharpened up on our defensive duty.

"Blocking a shot is just like scoring a goal for me."

Walker gained possession eight times, more than any of his team-mates, with six tackles another best mark for City.

His three interceptions were matched by Fernandinho and Mahrez, while Stones (four) and Dias (three) led the way in clearances and blocks respectively.

Those efforts were a huge part in City avoiding the heartache they suffered against Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon over the past three seasons.

"I don't think it’s a matter of being over-anxious, I think it’s putting the pressure on ourselves," the England right-back said.

"Obviously we go back to Anfield when we threw it away in the first leg. In the second leg we tried to bring it back but it wasn't good enough.

"The second year we go to Tottenham, people miss penalties and these things happen but again we probably lost it in the first leg. We were chasing it, coming back here and conceded two quick goals.

"Then last year, under different circumstances it was one leg and it was a proper cup game. Anything can happen in those sort of games.

"To go over there and get the well-earned victory, then beat them 2-0 and keep a clean sheet is full credit to this squad."

Jurgen Klopp "didn't understand" Gareth Southgate's decision to leave Trent Alexander-Arnold out of his England squad, claiming the Liverpool right-back's form "cannot be the reason".

Alexander-Arnold was a surprise omission from Southgate's group for last month's World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.

The 22-year-old has been a Liverpool regular in recent seasons but has earned only 12 England caps to date.

Kieran Trippier was preferred at wing-back at the 2018 World Cup, with Kyle Walker playing inside in a three-man defence.

The Manchester City defender and Reece James shared starting duties in March, while Trippier was also in the squad, with right-back a clear position of strength for the Three Lions.

As well as Alexander-Arnold and Southgate's current preferred trio, England could call upon Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Manchester United or England Under-21 pair Tariq Lamptey and Max Aarons.

But Klopp believes his player deserves to be at the forefront of the conversation.

"I was surprised when he didn't get a call-up," the Reds manager said.

"I'm a manager myself, I make decisions every day, every weekend, every midweek about team selections, squad selections. You always make decisions other people don't understand.

"I respect that Gareth makes his own decisions, of course, obviously, but I didn't understand it."

Alexander-Arnold is widely accepted to be enduring a more difficult campaign after playing a starring role in Liverpool's Champions League and Premier League successes in the previous two seasons.

The defender provided 15 assists in each of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns but has supplied just five this term.

He has created a relatively meagre 59 chances, down from 109 last season, his per-90-minutes average dropping from 2.46 to 1.87. His crossing accuracy has steadily declined over the past three years, too, to stand at 17.9 per cent in 2020-21.

But Alexander-Arnold still leads James (39), Trippier (29), Wan-Bissaka (26) and Walker (14) in key passes, while only the Atletico Madrid man has more assists (six).

On the other hand, Walker's defensive statistics are more impressive, having been dribbled past on just 12 occasions – Alexander-Arnold is at 22 – while not committing a single error leading to a shot.

Klopp continued: "Trent Alexander-Arnold was in the last two years at least the stand-out right back in world football at an unbelievably young age.

"I have no problems when my players get criticism – from me, from other people if they are not performing – but that's the truth.

"Now he started the season with COVID-19 early on, which is not good. As you can imagine, it took him a while to get in the season.

"From the moment he was in the season, he was one of our most consistent players, a standout player – Robbo [Andy Robertson] the same, who played at this high level.

"That cannot be the reason that he was not in the squad.

"If you compare Lionel Messi every year with his best season ever, you'd say he's not playing like he performed in 2005 and 2006, but he's still the world's best player."

Alexander-Arnold was left out due to England's style of play, Klopp theorised, and his club boss still felt he should have been included.

"If you have to play against a deep defending side, for sure, the crosses and the passes of Trent, I don't know anyone who can do them like him," Klopp said.

However, Alexander-Arnold's crossing accuracy ranks third among Southgate's five senior options and Walker, Trippier and James combined to find team-mates with a solid four of their 11 deliveries for England in March.

But frustrations with Southgate's selection at least created the opportunity for Klopp to work with Alexander-Arnold in training ahead of the run-in.

"Can he get the benefit? Of course," Klopp said. "He was not with the national team, so he had time to train, trained at an extremely high level.

"You could see he showed a reaction. There was no need, but he was really in the session; that was good. He really enjoyed the session.

"He's a very ambitious boy, so I'm sure he wants to be in the England squad. I know he wants to be, and he will try everything to get there again.

"If Trent Alexander-Arnold is not in the squad of England, England must have an extremely good squad. I'll say it like this. That's the situation.

"I respect the decision, of course I did, but I didn't understand it."

In-form Raheem Sterling scored his 12th goal of the season as Manchester City cruised into the FA Cup quarter-finals and made history with a 3-1 victory at Swansea City.

Pep Guardiola's irrepressible side eased to a 15th consecutive win - a record for an English top-flight club - at the Liberty Stadium to stay in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple.

Kyle Walker opened the scoring with a cross and two goals in the space of three minutes early in the second half put the Premier League leaders out of sight.

Championship promotion contenders Swansea were outclassed as the City juggernaut rolled on, although they did suffer a blow when Rodri was forced off with an injury before Morgan Whittaker pulled a goal back.

Jesus received treatment on his ankle early on, but was able to continue and the striker missed a chance to opening the scoring when he steered Benjamin Mendy's cross wide.

Swansea were chasing shadows as City dominated, knocking the ball around with a swagger, and Ferran Torres' shot from a tight angle was brilliantly tipped wide by Freddy Woodman.

Woodman was beaten on the half-hour mark, though, when Walker's centre from the right evaded everybody and found the far corner of the net.

Marc Guehi nodded wide at the other end in a rare Swansea attack, but an unmarked Sterling finished clinically when he was well picked by Rodri two minutes into the second half.

Swansea were caught out again soon after, with Jesus controlling a clever cushioned header back across goal from Bernardo Silva in an instant and swivelling to fire home with his left foot.

Joel Latibeaudiere somehow denied Mendy a tap-in with great last-ditch defending and Rodri limped off before Whittaker superbly gave the hosts a consolation, drilling in left-footed for his first Swansea goal.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Kevin De Bruyne may have suffered a muscular injury in the 2-0 win over Aston Villa, though he is waiting on further updates.

De Bruyne hobbled off in the second half as City beat Villa on Wednesday to move top of the Premier League table.

City star De Bruyne was replaced approaching the hour mark before Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan scored during the final 11 minutes at home to Villa, the former in controversial circumstances.

Kyle Walker also succumbed to injury after just 28 minutes, and Guardiola was asked about the pair.

"First, I didn't speak to the doctor," he said.

"Kyle asked to be out because something happened – hopefully it was just a kick.

"Kevin put his hand on his leg. Maybe it will be something muscular. But what do you expect? It's normal, sometimes these things happen with these kind of games."

City are now unbeaten in 16 games across all competitions after defeating a Villa side whose previous top-flight outing was a 2-1 loss to Manchester United 19 days earlier, having suffered a coronavirus outbreak.  

Silva broke the deadlock in the 79th minute amid strong claims for offside against Rodri as Villa boss Dean Smith was sent off for his protests, while Gundogan's late penalty sealed the win.

"I didn't watch the image on TV, I know they complained on the touchline," Guardiola said when discussing Silva's contentious goal.

"And VAR is there. So there are many challenges, with long balls when the player is offside, and you go backwards, the central defenders, you clear the ball, central defender for themselves, the counter attack.

"But VAR was there. If it was offside, the goal would have been disallowed, but honestly I didn't watch it, and I understand they complained about this action. In general, the game we played was outstanding."

City have kept 10 clean sheets in their 18 Premier League games this season – only in 1976-77 (17 games) have they reached that figure in fewer fixtures in their league history.

After a difficult start to the season, his side are firmly back in the mix, and Guardiola added: "There are many, many teams, but if you ask me for my opinion, still have one game left to finish the first round, so the rise in the table is good because we are there.

"When we lost against Tottenham, we were 12th in the table, but then we lost just two games and the most important thing, is the fact that we are back since Newcastle game, playing the game we have to play to be contenders. Everyone wants to win, wants to be champions but you have to show why you are champions.

"Today, I had the feeling that we controlled many aspects, we had the right tempo of the game, we concede few, create a lot. We have to be more clinical in the final third, especially in the eight yard box and penalty spot but we'll improve."

Pep Guardiola has confirmed three more "important" Manchester City players have tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of their Premier League visit to Chelsea on Sunday. 

City's top-flight clash with Everton on Monday was postponed following a coronavirus outbreak at the club, with Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker and another two staff members testing positive for COVID-19.

The match was called off in the hours before kick-off after City "returned a number of positive cases", with the fixture becoming the second in the competition to be postponed this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Newcastle were struck by the virus and missed a game at Aston Villa, while a third postponement followed on Wednesday as Tottenham versus Fulham fell by the wayside.

City resumed training on Wednesday but Guardiola has now confirmed that three more first-team players have joined Jesus and Walker in testing positive for COVID-19.

"It was four people, two players, the first time and then three more," he told a media conference. 

"I don't think the Premier League allows us to name the players but you will know tomorrow. 

"We have to respect the privacy of the players maybe. Tomorrow you will see the lineups and three important players not there so you will know exactly but I'm not allowed to tell you.

"People are dying all around the world. Unfortunately, the problem is still here but now the training centre is disinfected and hopefully the next tests everyone is negative and the people that are positive can come back without problems."

There have been growing calls for a circuit break – a tight set of restrictions, likely including the suspension of games, designed to reverse the tide of the pandemic – but Guardiola is content to keep following the Premier League's advice.

"We will follow what the Premier League says," he added. "They are doing an incredible job and have been since the first lockdown but it is unfortunate what happened with Newcastle.

"I spoke with Steve Bruce and he explained how difficult it was, more than 20 people infected and it can happen to any club in the Premier League.

"The situation everywhere is dramatic, with 1000 deaths in a day. We have to be careful.

"We are delighted to play games and do our job but at the same time we cannot ignore the reality that the virus is here and we don't know exactly when you can get it. We have to be careful, wearing masks and socially distancing."

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