Pep Guardiola admits the demands of City’s hectic fixture schedule are taking their toll on the squad.

Since returning from international break, City have played three games in seven days – the latest Saturday’s hard-fought 1-1 draw at West Ham – and are facing a crunch period with four more games in the next fortnight.

Having suffered a spate of injuries in the early part of the campaign, Guardiola says that while he asks a lot of his squad, the current expectations are proving too much of a strain, pushing the players to their limits.

“It is too much,” he said. “We demand something they cannot afford.

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“It is not difficult to understand. We stopped last season, came back and then after two weeks, came back (for this season).

“I try to demand everything from my players but there is a limit. We can compete in one or two competitions – no problem – but it is every three days.

“We played a tough game against Porto and came back here.

“Even with that, we played to win the game (against West Ham) except for 10-15 mins of the first half.

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“The players made an incredible effort. We created chances to win the game and at the end, we could not do it. They tried and made absolutely everything on the pitch.

“We have Champions League and the Carabao Cup. We didn’t have enough in our legs to do it.

“In the second half, we put our energy out but it is not easy when they have 10 players on the edge of the box.

“Since day one when we arrived, it was like this. Most of the time, teams defend so deep.

“We have to create the process to do it. We are fighting for this.

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“We have two strikers injured and Raheem [Sterling] is playing in a position that is fighting a lot. He is incredible playing in a position that is not his. We are trying to adapt what we have.

“It’s just making decisions. Sometimes, the players arrive in the positions tired. That’s why you have to keep going and sooner or later, we will get to our best to win the game.

“We did enough to win the game but we could not do it because we are still in the process to get our best moment.

“It is difficult to predict the future. We will see what happens next time. Every season is a challenge – every game is.

“The world is different right now – not just for us: for everyone.

“Now, the players recover for Tuesday and we continue.”

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