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Pep ‘disappointed’ with absent players | Neymar links are ‘false’

Pep Guardiola says he is disappointed Phil Foden, John Stones and Ilkay Gundogan are not part of Manchester City’s pre-season tour of the USA, admitting their absence contributes to “incredible problems” for his team.

City are currently in Houston, where they are preparing to take on Club America on Thursday before travelling to Green Bay for a fixture with Bayern Munich on Sunday.

But England internationals Foden and Stones, plus Germany international Gundogan, will miss the friendlies after failing to meet US entry requirements. Most travellers to the US must be fully vaccinated, which also prevented N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek from taking part in Chelsea’s pre-season trip to the country.

The trio are training with City’s U23s in Croatia and will join the senior squad when they return from America, but Guardiola says the inability of his squad to enjoy a full pre-season together could cost them when the competitive fixtures begin next month.

Asked if he was disappointed to be without Foden, Stones and Gundogan, the manager said: “Yeah, a lot. I would like them to be here.

“The second season here [2017/18], when we finished with 100 points, that was the only pre-season when we were all together from day one. Since then it’s always four players arrive, then after a few weeks some other ones and we start the season with incredible problems. That’s why we drop every season at the beginning many, many points.

“This season I thought, ‘maybe we will be all together’, but due to personal situations with these three players, and other situations with some other ones, we cannot be together. We are delayed but it is what it is. We are going to move forward and today you have to adapt.

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