24.01.2020 16:46 h

Guardiola calls for FA Cup replays to be scrapped

Pep Guardiola wants FA Cup replays to be scrapped as the Manchester City manager prepares for Sunday's fourth round tie against Fulham.

Guardiola is one of several Premier League bosses concerned about the damage being done to his players by the gruelling demands of the English fixture list.

The Spaniard has already admitted he would be happy to see the League Cup cancelled as a way to ease congestion, even though City have won the competition for the last two seasons and face Manchester United in the semi-final second leg next Wednesday.

Aware that a busy period for City would be even more packed if second tier Fulham get a draw at the Etihad Stadium, Guardiola has proposed getting rid of all remaining FA Cup replays.

The Football Association abolished them from the fifth round onwards last term and Guardiola, having seen Manchester United's Marcus Rashford injured on FA Cup duty earlier in January, said: "I'm not saying what the FA has to do. When I said my comment I never expected the League Cup or FA Cup was going to go.

"What is nice about this country is how you maintain the traditions. In traditions you can involve some new things to make the competitions nicer, but all the traditions are there, not just in sport but in culture and society and that is top. I admire that.

"The League Cup and FA Cup will be played. But maybe we could cancel the replays, have less teams in the Championship or Premier League.

"I tried to be honest and answer the question but I don't think about what they have to do, it's not my business. My business is to prepare my team better every day.

"When they decide to play these games, and the other games, we do it."

City won the FA Cup and League Cup last season and will target them again with the Premier League title looking out of reach.

City are second in the table but trail Liverpool by 16 points, with the runaway leaders in with a chance of breaking City's record 100-point tally.

"It can happen. The records are always there to be broken. We broke it when someone thought it couldn't be broken," Guardiola told reporters on Friday.

"Sooner or later it is going to happen, this season or in the future. History speaks clearly about that."

City defender Aymeric Laporte returned to action in Tuesday's victory at Sheffield United after almost five months out with a knee injury.

Laporte was badly missed, but Guardiola has warned against expecting too much of the French centre-back.

"He played a little bit more than 70 minutes for the first game. He played well but, as I said, he's not going to solve all the problems we have," Guardiola said.

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