Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Ruben Dias, John Stones and Kyle Walker will play no further part for Manchester City this season due to injury.
There are just three games left to go in Manchester City’s pursuit of the Premier League title. However, Guardiola will not be able to call upon three of his most reliable defenders for the run in.
Walker went off in the 72nd minute of the Champions League loss to Real Madrid on Wednesday. Subsequently, he was not involved for their win over Newcastle United upon their return to Premier League action.
Stones also remained absent, having gone off in the first half of the first leg back on April 26th.
And a fresh blow came when Dias had to go off at half-time of the win over Newcastle. Despite the removal of the defender in favour of natural midfielder Fernandinho – who has albeit played in the backline many times – Manchester City were still able to keep a clean sheet.
The task of retaining the Premier League title is firmly in their hands; they are now three points above Liverpool and have a superior goal difference.
However, their remaining fixtures – against Wolves, West Ham and Aston Villa – will be complicated by the continued absences of the three defenders.
Speaking after the Newcastle game at a post-match press conference, Guardiola confirmed: “Ruben, Kyle and John are out until the end of the season.”
Therefore, Dias concludes his campaign with 39 appearances, two goals and five assists across all competitions.
Stones, meanwhile, amassed 26 appearances and two goals. Walker, for his part, recorded 31 appearances, one goal and two assists.
They will all be watching on for the final few weeks. Their hope will be that their teammates can get them over the line so they can earn league winners’ medals once more.
Guardiola faces rare instance of having little depth after Ruben Dias setback
In their absences, though, Guardiola will have a shortage of options to work with.
In the full-back positions, he can now only rely on Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko as senior options on either side.
Centrally, he has Aymeric Laporte and can call upon Fernandinho in a deeper role. But another option, Nathan Ake, is currently on the sidelines too.
After the positivity of increasing their gap over Liverpool, it isn’t the news City would have been hoping for. But they will still hope to make use of their advantage so they can make it back-to-back league titles.