Manchester City’s defensive crisis has deepened with Pep Guardiola revealing that John Stones is set for five weeks on the sidelines.
The departure of Vincent Kompany in the summer saw Man City linked with a few replacement centre-backs, with Harry Maguire thought to be Pep Guardiola’s primary target, though the Premier League champions were unwilling to shell out Leicester’s £80 million asking price, seeing the England international complete a move to Manchester United.
As United got their man, City decided against splashing the cash, leaving Guardiola with just three senior centre-backs for the 2019/20 campaign; Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.
Their titles hopes were dealt a huge blow earlier this month with the news that Laporte would be out of action for a number of months with a knee injury, though they weren’t helped by their replacements, Stones and Otamendi receiving heavy criticism from the media for the performance in the 3-2 defeat to Norwich at the weekend.
Otamendi was caught dawdling on the ball by the lively Emiliano Buendia for Norwich’s decisive third goal, with the Argentine seemingly unaware of any danger.
There are planetary orbits quicker than Nicolas Otamendi pic.twitter.com/XUp1KqZSmm
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) September 14, 2019
However, while Stones and Otamendi may look like an accident waiting to happen, Pep Guardiola’s problems have worsened, with Stones being ruled out for around five weeks with a muscle injury, taking his central defender options to just one.
Asked about the injuries within his squad ahead of Man City’s opening Champions League group game against Shakhtar Donetsk, Pep Guardiola confirmed that the £50 million defender has a ‘muscular problem’ suffered in training on Tuesday morning.
The Barnsley born defender is potentially set to miss nine games, with the Citizens set to face Shakhtar Donetsk, Watford, Preston, Everton, Dinamo Zagreb, Wolves, Crystal Palace, Atalanta and Aston Villa before the end of October.
The former Barcelona boss later added that it was a ‘big challenge’ but insisted he wouldn’t cry about the current crisis gripping his squad.
“[It’s a] Big challenge. So for me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge, just one central defender in Nico [Otamendi].
“But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The player’s going to come back with Dinho [Fernandinho], [Eric] Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
“It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. If they are not able, they are not able. We have to have 11 players on the pitch and I like it, to find a solution.
“For the players as well to find an incredible step forward. John and Aymer [Laporte] are injured for a long time.”