Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola says the crowded fixture list isn't ideal for the players. Photo: Thomas Peters/Reuters

LONDON Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Tuesday expressed his displeasure with the number of matches his men must play, saying the crowded schedule is "killing our players."

"It's a crazy schedule and we'll kill our players sooner or later. We cannot sustain it for a long time," Guardiola told reporters.

Riyad Mahrez is the latest of Man City's international players to return to the club, having helped Algeria to victory in the African Cup of Nations final last weekend against a Senegal team that included Liverpool's Sadio Mane.

Guardiola said Sergio Aguero and many of his South American players will be returning to the club at the end of July or even later.

"They have to breathe, rest, give more quality in the tournaments. They have to rest, but if the people want to come back a little bit earlier, they are more than welcome," he said.

Guardiola told reporters that some of the players will return on July 29 or 30 and others not until August 3 or 4.

"They decide whether to come back after three or four weeks off. I don't want them to come back if they are not fit, if they are tired and have still not recovered from a tough season," the coach said.

The Premier League season begins on August 9 with the Community Shield between City and Liverpool on August 4.

dpa