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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola would like to see FA Cup replays scrapped

By Andy Hampson, PA

Pep Guardiola insists he enjoys the FA Cup and its traditions – but would like to see replays scrapped.

The Manchester City manager said earlier this week that ditching the Carabao Cup would be a good way to ease fixture congestion.

But he accepts that is not going to happen and instead would like to find ways to make the competitions better.

Speaking at a press conference to preview Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie with Fulham, Guardiola said: “I’m not saying what the FA has to do. When I said my comment I never expected the Carabao 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 Carabao 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 both domestic cups last season and they will target them again with the Premier League title now out of reach.

City are second in the table but trail runaway leaders Liverpool by 16 points.

The Merseysiders are on target to break City’s record 100-point tally of two years ago.

Guardiola said: “It can happen. The records are always there to be broken. We broke it when someone thought it couldn’t be broken.

“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.

The Frenchman was badly missed during his absence as City lost touch with Liverpool, but Guardiola has warned against expecting too much of him too soon.

He said: “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.

Aymeric Laporte returned for City in midweek (Mike Egerton/PA)

“He’s not going to give us extra on what we have but he’s one more player that we have and if we believe we can use him we are going to use him.”

The Premier League has incorporated a winter break into its schedule for the first time this season. City will have almost two weeks between games against West Ham on February 9 and Leicester on February 22.

Guardiola has no intention of taking the squad abroad for warm-weather training.

He said: “We will have three or four days off and after that we’ll train again here and prepare for Leicester, Madrid and Arsenal.”