Pep Guardiola defends naming six subs; Gary Neville calls it 'a joke'

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola defended his decision to go with one fewer substitute than allowed after naming only six on the bench for Saturday's 1-1 draw against Burnley.

John Stones (illness), David Silva, Fabian Delph, Benjamin Mendy, Phil Foden, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus are all out with injuries, which left City with just Claudio Bravo, Aymeric Laporte, Yaya Toure, Tosin Adarabioyo, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Brahim Diaz on the bench and one slot free.

"We don't have any more players, that is the reason why," Guardiola said before the game. "We have one goalkeeper and five players. We could take one from [the] second team but they played a game yesterday.

"We played two-and-a-half days ago. We felt two games in a row would be difficult [they] haven't had one serious training sessions with us."

And after the game Guardiola said much the same, insisting he preferred to give his youngsters game time with the second team rather than let them take the final seat on the bench.

"We don't have any more players. They are injured so I would like to have 18 players," he added. "I had 17 because of the other ones. I could call one of the second team but they played a game yesterday. But the others are injured.

"Maybe [we could have brought a young player] but we decide they are not going to play because before them we are going to play Yaya or Zinchenko or the other ones and I decided to let them play with the second team."

The decision drew criticism as City have spent over £450 million on new players since Guardiola's arrival in England, including from former Man United defender Gary Neville, now a pundit.

"I was really hoping he wasn't going to give the answer that he did," Neville told Sky Sports. "I think it's a joke, an absolute joke.

"If you are a youth team manager at Manchester City, ring him up. Forget the second team -- even if they played yesterday still bring one on the bench -- the youth team are there. Bring a kid, travel with the team, help the kitman, put him on the bench, have the experience of being in a Premier League game and give somebody a boost.

"If you are an academy manager or reserve team manager at Manchester City you must think I am wasting my time. Forget the fact of how much money they've spent, six players on the bench is like a protest. I'm not sure why he is peddling this theme.

"He's an absolutely incredible manager, the work he has done with this team is unbelievable and the team performances absolutely outstanding. But things like that let you down, he doesn't need to do that.

"He doesn't have to bring the kid off the bench, he could just bring him for the experience, the feeling. I just feel like the opportunity has been missed again to promote the wonderful youth team that Man City have got.

"I don't know why he is peddling that story. It's poor to not bring a young player. It's really poor. I can guarantee you that the academy and youth team coaches at Man City will be really disheartened by that. I guarantee you.

"He might as well just bring three if you go with the theory about not playing. Just fill your bench."