Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, has admitted he is “sad” over Riyad Mahrez’s lack of playing time, but says the winger’s form is not to blame.
Mahrez became City’s record signing last summer, after signing from Leicester City in a £60m deal.
However, the Algerian has had limited game-time this season, not starting a Premier League match since the victory at Southampton on December 30.
Guardiola has explained that the form of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva, has prevented him getting into the side.
“I am the reason [he has not played]. He is absolutely not guilty.
“I am sad because he is training incredibly. He is an incredibly talented player but in this moment we have five strikers. In the last games Leroy hasn’t played.
“We have incredible players, like for example Bernardo and Raz [Sterling] in top, top form and that is the only reason why. There’s no particular reason, like being upset or something like that.
“He is a guy we are happy with but unfortunately I am not kind with him. In fact, I cannot give him the minutes he deserves, so I’m sorry. That’s all I can say,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.