Kyle Walker’s Man City absence explained after a week of confusion

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Manchester City right-back has not played since his red card against Leipzig

Kyle Walker has been suffering from an illness that has forced him to miss Manchester City’s last two games.

The England right-back has not been in the squad since the 1-0 win over Wolves over a week ago, when he sat on the bench as Joao Cancelo took his place and Aleks Zinchenko came in at left-back.

In midweek, when Cancelo was suspended, Walker was again left out, with the club saying he was “not fully fit” – and John Stones was drafted in as an emergency right back in the 7-0 victory.

Walker was expected to travel with the rest of the squad to the northeast for yesterday’s game with Newcastle after Pep Guardiola confirmed on Friday that he had a full squad from which to choose apart from Ferran Torres, who is still recovering from a broken metatarsal.

But ahead of the match, Walker was pulled from the squad, and he was again described as “not fully fit” which the club later clarified as meaning he was ill.

Guardiola was asked about Walker after the 4-0 win over the Geordies and replied: “He didn’t feel good today,” which was later clarified by the club as meaning he was ill and has been since last week.

A club spokesman refused to comment on whether his absence was Covid-related, on grounds of medical confidentiality, but the fact that he was in the squad for Newcastle indicates it is either unrelated to Covid or that he has tested negative for Covid since Guardiola named his squad for the trip north.

Walker this week suffered the bereavement of close friend and football agent Dominic Yarwood, whose body was found on Thursday night.

Walker posted a message on social media that read: “Can’t believe I’m writing this but you will always be remembered in my heart and so many others Dom.

“U was my rock when times were hard and I will never forget you. God has gained another angel and a very special one in you my friend.”

But City say his loss is not related to the decision to pull him from the squad, simply that he was not well enough to join the rest of the squad on Sunday.

The Sheffield lad was on the bench for the Wolves game a week ago after being red-carded a few days earlier in the meaningless Champions League group game at RB Leipzig – which means he will now miss the first leg of the Blues’ last 16 game against Sporting Lisbon, and possibly more, through suspension.

If Walker’s illness is not Covid, City have managed to steer clear of the omicron variant so far, although Guardiola had a scare on Friday when he returned an inconclusive lateral flow test and faced an anxious wait before he was cleared to resume normal duties by a negative PCR test.

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