April 8 (Reuters) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said defender Kyle Walker cannot play in an inverted full back role in his system, explaining his decision to leave the England international on the bench for their last two Premier League games.
Walker had been an integral part of City’s defence and made 23 appearances in all competitions this season, but Guardiola chose John Stones at right back over him in their 4-1 home win over Liverpool and 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.
Guardiola praised Walker’s pace but said that he does not have the characteristics to play in an inverted role, where full backs move inside into central spaces to dominate possession.
“He cannot do it,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday. “He will always have pace; Kyle at 60 years old will be the fastest player in this room. To play inside you have to have educated movements – he doesn’t have every one of the characteristics.
“He has played as a full back coming inside in the past with four at the back. He has done really well but this shape of three at the back and two in the middle, he cannot do it.”
City travel to bottom club Southampton later on Saturday as they aim to close the gap on Arsenal at the top to five points.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.