Aitor Karanka: It is a nice game to play

It is the kind of game that everyone has to enjoy.

Aitor Karanka

Aitor Karanka has told his players to enjoy the opportunity of playing Manchester City in the Emirates FA Cup.

Ahead of the third round tie, the Gaffer addressed members of the local and national media via Zoom.

Blues' Head Coach has previously experienced success against the Citizens and knows, despite the standard of opposition, that his team have the capabilities to compete in the north west.

The matchup also sees Karanka renew touchline battles with Pep Guardiola, a man he faced multiple times when working under Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid.

Speaking to the press, the 47-year-old gave an insight into his thought process going into the game and how he expects his players to approach the Etihad showdown.

He said: “I think it is a nice game to play. I hope that everybody likes to play these sorts of games against one of the best teams, not just in the Premier League but in Europe and the world.

“It is the kind of game that everyone has to enjoy, knowing it is going to be really tough but as a player, everybody should be pleased with this game on Sunday.”

Facing the 2018 winners presents an undoubted challenge, with City holding a highly impressive recent record in domestic cup competitions, but Karanka is looking forward to the contest and believes there will be opportunities for his side to make their mark.

The Head Coach said: “We have to take this game as a game that is something we are going to enjoy, knowing there will be moments without the ball - their quality is amazing.

“If we are organised and committed on the pitch, we are going to have our chances to score goals. We have to go there thinking that we can compete and let’s see what happens.”

Supporters will be further heartened to hear, that despite the busy schedule, Karanka is preparing the strongest possible team to face City and provided an injury update ahead of the trip.

He said: “I am not going to rest players thinking about the game next week against Middlesbrough because I want a strong and organised team on the pitch, I need to show them that we want to win the game.

“Gary Gardner and Alen Halilović are the only two not fit for Sunday. Everyone else is okay. Kristian Pedersen and Marc Roberts have been training with the squad after their injuries.”