Ukraine’s Oleksandr Zinchenko set to return for Man City against Peterborough

Pep Guardiola described the full-back as ‘a magnificent player (who) needs to play football’

Andy Hampson
Monday 28 February 2022 15:59 GMT
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Oleksandr Zinchenko is set to play for Manchester City at Peterborough (Peter Byrne/PA)
Oleksandr Zinchenko is set to play for Manchester City at Peterborough (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Manchester City’s Ukraine international Oleksandr Zinchenko is set to play in Tuesday’s FA Cup tie at Peterborough, manager Pep Guardiola has said.

Zinchenko was visibly moved by the displays of solidarity with his homeland, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the country, during City’s Premier League game at Everton on Saturday.

The full-back was an unused substitute at Goodison Park but is poised to return to the field as City travel to the Championship strugglers in the fifth round.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Guardiola said Zinchenko was “absolutely fine” and in the right frame of mind to play.

Guardiola said: “I think it will be good for him to play and show the reason why he is here. He is a magnificent player (and) needs to play football.”

Zinchenko attended an anti-war vigil in Manchester last week and on Monday added his voice to calls for Russia to be excluded from international sport.

Manchester City players took to the field against Everton with shirts bearing the Ukrainian flag and the message ‘No War’ (Peter Byrne/PA).
Manchester City players took to the field against Everton with shirts bearing the Ukrainian flag and the message ‘No War’ (Peter Byrne/PA). (PA Wire)

The 25-year-old shared a statement on Instagram calling on governing bodies to ban Russia and its athletes from international competitions and impose restrictions on the country concerning media and sponsorship.

City head to the Weston Homes Stadium after moving six points clear at the top of the Premier League with a controversial 1-0 success at Everton.

Phil Foden’s 82nd-minute effort proved decisive, but Everton felt they were denied a late penalty for handball against Rodri by referee Paul Tierney.

The incident was reviewed by VAR, but Tierney’s original decision stood, much to the consternation of the hosts and bemusement of numerous pundits.

Even Guardiola accepts City may have got lucky.

Saturday’s game at Goodison Park ended controversially after Everton were denied a penalty (Peter Byrne/PA)
Saturday’s game at Goodison Park ended controversially after Everton were denied a penalty (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

“The pass of Deli Alli looks offside but, Richarlison, if he is not offside it’s a penalty,” he said.

Guardiola, whose side were beaten in their previous outing by Tottenham, now wants to take advantage of the issue to rebuild momentum.

He said: “It’s one game. If we lose the next game the momentum is over.

“All the time Goodison Park was difficult for us. The celebrations were exceptional because we knew how difficult it was – a good example of what we will face in the last 11 games of the Premier League.

“Every game will be quite similar. We will have to suffer and struggle and we are able to face it.”

City will be strong favourites to prevail against a Peterborough side languishing at the bottom of the Championship.

It is a game in a stadium with conditions that we will have to adapt to

Pep Guardiola

Posh have not won in the league for more than two months and last week parted company with manager Darren Ferguson, replacing him with Grant McCann.

Guardiola said: “It is one game, a final. Of course they are not in the best position in the Championship, but it is a game in a stadium with conditions that we will have to adapt to.

“We will prepare well to try to go through and get to the quarter-finals.”

There was also a managerial departure in the top flight at the weekend with Marcelo Bielsa, a long-time role model for Guardiola, leaving Leeds.

“I’m so sorry for him,” said Guardiola. “His legacy is there, in the Leeds city and club, and I’m pretty sure with the players. His influence is massive.

“Unfortunately all managers are subject to results, and maybe they were not good, but the games played in three or four seasons at Leeds were spectacular to watch and I wish him all he best in future.”

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