Football: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola bemoans lack of COVID-free players ahead of League Cup semi-final with Manchester United

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he will field a depleted squad for Thursday's  League Cup semi-final at Manchester United, because of the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.

Teams can name nine substitutes on the bench in the semis and final, after the ruling body - the English Football League - approved five substitutions per game.

However, City had six players unavailable due to positive tests in their 3-1 Premier League win at Chelsea on the weekend, while City's game at Everton last week was also postponed due to several positive cases in their camp.

The Manchester club joins Newcastle United, Sheffield United and Fulham in suffering virus outbreaks in the top flight.

"We don't have many players," Guardiola tells Sky Sports. "To play one, two games is okay, but if sustained for a long time - and you can use just 14 or 15 players - it will be more difficult.

"But... we have to adjust as much as possible. We don't have an alternative. The important thing is the guys who have COVID recover well and the others try to avoid it as much as possible."

But despite the surging infections in England caused by a new variant of the virus, the Premier League has said games will be held as scheduled with the competition being allowed to continue during the national COVID-19 lockdown.

"It looks like we are an island inside the society. It's like everything is locked down except ourselves," Guardiola added.

"They [players] have to be careful what they do. Social distance, be careful and be lucky because even doing as best as possible, there are risks."