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Man City's Pep Guardiola defends himself against Gary Neville criticism

MANCHESTER -- Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hit back at criticism from TV pundit Gary Neville who claimed his decision to name only six substitutes against Burnley last weekend was "a joke."

The City boss defended his call saying that a combination of injuries and a youth team game at the same time had contributed to his decision to travel to Turf Moor with just 17 players.

Guardiola, who has John Stones and Phil Foden back for City's game with Leicester City on Saturday, insisted Neville should know how serious management is after his disastrous four-month spell in charge at Valencia, where he lost or drew 18 of his 28 matches and saw his side humiliated 7-0 by Barcelona in a Copa del Rey match.

"It's quite simple, we had a lot of injuries. We had that day a training session at 4 p.m. in the afternoon, at the same time five or six of the players I could have taken, had a game here," Guardiola told a news conference.

"It was just one or two hours later and it would not have been correct to go the [youth team] manager who is preparing for the game and say 'I need one or two players to go on the bench' when they are going to play. For that reason, I didn't call him.

Gary Neville
Gary Neville spent a disastrous four-month spell at Valencia, which represents his only managerial experience to date.

"This guy, the pundit, he has to know my job is serious, it's not a joke, never is it a joke. It's so serious. And he should know that because he was a manager ... for a short time."

Asked if he was hurt by Neville's criticism, Guardiola joked: "A lot! You cannot imagine, a lot. Especially when we lose. If we won the decision would have been magnificent."

The Catalan coach gave his injury-hit first-team squad three days off this week after their first seven-day break without a game since August.

Kevin De Bruyne had said he was tired during the 1-1 draw with Burnley and Guardiola says he hopes to give him more time off if he can get some players back from injuries.

"In that period, I could not give him rest because David [Silva] had some personal problems. It's going well with his son but now the last three game he's injured," Guardiola said.

"Delph and Foden can play in that position but they're injured so that's why I couldn't move a lot.

Immediately when they can come we can give him some rest.

"He's played a lot of minutes and he deserves some rest but the other side is he's such an important player or us. Every game he creates chances and helps us defensively and the fact we are there and fighting for important things -- in that situation you are not tired.

"He said 'I'm tired,' but if there had been another game in three days he'd have been ready to play."

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.

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