Manchester City defender John Stones will be out for around five weeks with a muscular problem, manager Pep Guardiola has announced.
City defender Stones picked up the problem on Tuesday morning as his side prepared for Wednesday’s Champions League opener away to Shakhtar Donetsk and leaves Nicolas Otamendi as the club’s only fit recognised senior centre-half.
City are also without one of last season’s star men Aymeric Laporte, who is sidelined until the early months of 2020 with a knee injury.
And the loss of Stones will leave Guardiola having to play central midfielder Fernandinho at the heart of the defence alongside error-prone Argentinian Otamendi.
“He (Stones) is out four, five or six weeks. He was injured in training this morning. It is a muscular problem,” Guardiola said.
“For me as a manager it is an incredible challenge. But I believe in something people don’t know about – spirit and commitment. We will make steps forward to solve this problem,” Guardiola added.
Stones and Otamendi came in for criticism in the defeat at Norwich on Saturday, which left the two-time defending champions five points adrift of early leaders Liverpool.
Guardiola defended his players, saying: “I have a lot of respect for what John and Nico have done.
“Football is not about how you handle the good situations. It is about how you handle the bad ones.”
Foden also sidelined for Ukraine trip
Midfielder Phil Foden has also not travelled with the squad to Ukraine due to illness as City prepare to face an opponent they and Guardiola have come up against on several occasions in recent seasons.
“I bought an apartment here! I have come here many times. Always it is good. With Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now City I have been here almost every season,” Guardiola added.
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