Manchester - Manchester City's new manager
Pep Guardiola takes his team to Stoke City bolstered by the news that promising
forward Kelechi Iheanacho has signed a long-term deal to stay with his club.
The 19-year-old Nigerian came off the bench
in the opening-day victory over Sunderland, and is considered one of the game's
most exciting prospects with an excellent career record of eight goals in seven
Premier League starts.
Iheanacho has agreed a two-year extension
to his old deal which will keep him with City until at least 2021 and he is
likely to see some action at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
"I just need to keep working hard and
express my feelings on the pitch," said Iheanacho.
The situation regarding one of his
team-mates, England goalkeeper Joe Hart, is more complex with the player
seemingly at an impasse with the club over his short-term future.
Hart is reported to prefer a 12-month loan
period away from City, where it has become apparent he does not figure in
Guardiola's plans, in order to explore his options at the end of the season.
But City are understood to prefer a
permanent sale of a player they value in the $33 million bracket, a fee which would cover the pending signing of
Barcelona keeper Claudio Bravo.
Everton and Sevilla are the only clubs with
an apparent interest in signing Hart on a permanent basis and he may face a
frustrating end to the transfer window.
In the meantime, Willy Caballero looks
certain to remain in goal for the match at Stoke, with Hart again on the bench
for the third consecutive time under Guardiola this season.
Hart is not the only big-name player to
have come under pressure since the arrival of former Barcelona and Bayern
Munich manager Guardiola, with defender Nicolas Otamendi the latest to face an
Otamendi struggled to find his form with
City last season and the arrival of 47.5 million England defender John Stones
has added competition in that department.
Guardiola was scathing regarding Otamendi's
performance in his team's 5-0 Champions League victory at Steaua Bucharest in
midweek and was particularly angered by a reckless challenge he believed could
have resulted in a conceded penalty.
"I don't like it when central
defenders go down on the pitch," said Guardiola.
"I don't know about last season
because I wasn't here, but we are here to get him better.
"After the two penalties for us, a
little situation is going to give away a penalty against us and we have to
Stoke could again be without their own
England goalkeeper, Jack Butland, for the meeting with one of the Premier
League's title favourites as he struggles to recover from the effects of the
ankle injury he suffered on international duty.
His absence would mean England's current
top two goalkeepers sitting out the game.
"We need to be a little bit cautious,
we're not going to throw Jack back in unless he's not feeling any pain
whatsoever or if we feel it's the right thing to do," said Stoke manager
Meanwhile, Hughes believes Guardiola's
arrival in Manchester can only be good for the Premier League.
"He's an accomplished manager who has
been successful wherever he has been," said Hughes.
"He's had huge resources wherever he
goes and they've been the top team in both countries he has been at.
"It's about using those resources to
the best advantage possible and he's certainly done that, so I think it is good
for the Premier League that he has come here."