Juanma Lillo in ‘continuous contact’ with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

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Manchester City assistant boss Juanma Lillo says he will be in continuous contact with absent manager Pep Guardiola this weekend.

Lillo is set to take charge of the champions’ next two fixtures – starting with Sunday’s trip to Sheffield United – as Guardiola recovers from back surgery in Spain.

Guardiola underwent the procedure earlier this week and is not due to return until after next month’s international break.

However, Lillo – who rejoined the City backroom staff this summer after a year away – insists all his direction will still come from his fellow Spaniard.

The 57-year-old, who took the club’s pre-match press conference, said: “The contact is continuous. Telephone, video call – everything.


“He is watching Sheffield United right now. What’s important is his health – that’s what matters – but that doesn’t keep him from being who he is.

“He’s fully focused on the team, fully focused on the match.

“We’re not going to do a video conference because he doesn’t want that. He wants us to have a face to face here but he is within the messages that are going to be relayed.”

Lillo says Guardiola is in good spirits after what the club described as an “emergency” but “routine” operation.

“What he is telling us is that the surgery has been successful, but that his recovery has to take the necessary time,” Lillo said. “He feels fine and I’m happy to see him. He’s recovering correctly.”

After winning the treble last season and starting the new campaign with back-to-back Premier League wins, the set-up Guardiola has left in Lillo’s hands seems well-tuned.

The experienced Lillo, whose coaching career has taken him to countries including Mexico, Colombia, Mexico, Japan and China, said: “If Pep is here he directs the sessions, he is focused and there are certain habits but plenty of the staff have been working here for a while and we’re trying.

“Nevertheless whenever Pep is here it’s so much better.”

City have bolstered their squad this week with the signing of highly-rated Belgium winger Jeremy Doku but Lillo is wary of expecting too much of the 21-year-old too soon.


He said: “Every time a new player arrives we think that they’re going to bring something, they’re going to help the team.

“But right now it’s not about him and placing responsibility upon him.”

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