REUTERS: Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said he has full confidence in Raheem Sterling despite the England forward falling down the pecking order and backed the 26-year-old to use his chances to force his way back into the starting side.
Sterling's dip in form has meant that Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez have featured more regularly for the Premier League leaders this season.
"Raheem is an extraordinary player. He was, is and will be," Guradiola told reporters ahead of Sunday's League Cup final with Tottenham Hotspur. "He maybe hasn't played as regularly as previous seasons. Phil and Riyad are in top form.
"... But the opportunity will come and he has to be ready to show his quality, be fresh in his mind and play the incredible strengths he has. The only way is to let him play."
Sterling, who has scored 13 goals in 42 games in all competitions so far this season, has started only three of City's last 10 matches.
"They (the players) have our confidence - if not, they would not be here. The quality is there... they're top-class players and they have to get the confidence from inside themselves," Guardiola said.
"They have to play well, perform well. It depends on them - not the manager. They have to show their confidence to me - I don't have to show my confidence in them."
City are looking to become only the second side in English soccer history after Liverpool to capture four successive League Cup titles.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry)