Pep Guardiola: Loss of John Stones could affect title chances

Manchester City manager says ‘To win the titles we need all the squad’

Manchester City’s John Stones picks up an injury during the Premier League match against Leicester at the King Power Stadium, Leicester. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Manchester City’s John Stones picks up an injury during the Premier League match against Leicester at the King Power Stadium, Leicester. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

 

Pep Guardiola believes the loss of John Stones will present Manchester City with a tough examination of their title credentials. Stones, whose outstanding form saw him play back-to-back 90-minute games for England against Germany and Brazil, now faces six weeks out with the hamstring injury sustained in the win at Leicester on Saturday.

The return of the captain, Vincent Kompany, after his own lay-off is timely but, given the Belgian’s patchy fitness record, the Premier League leaders do appear short of cover in central defence. Nicolás Otamendi is back after a one-game domestic ban, but the only other specialist options are Eliaquim Mangala and largely untried youngster Tosin Adarabioyo.

“We don’t have a big squad,” Guardiola said before Tuesday’s Champions League game at home against Feyenoord. “It is a big pity we lost a month and a half of Vincent Kompany and now John Stones. To win the titles we need all the squad, especially important players like John and Vinny.

‘Opportunity’

“On the other side, we have an opportunity. We have to play 12 games in a short space of time with only three central defenders. One of them is a risk, in Vincent only just back. It is not easy but I want to see how we react. Always when you are champions you have to handle the big situations, the tough situations.

“When everyone is ready and comfortable, that is not when you get credit. We are going to see how we react in the most important moment of the season. Until [City play] Watford, on January 2nd, it is about how we react.”

Mangala, who spent last season on loan at Valencia, looked set to leave in the summer, but City’s failure to sign Jonny Evans from West Bromwich Albion earned him a reprieve. He came on for Stones at Leicester. The 26-year-old, sitting alongside Guardiola at his press conference, said: “Football is like this. You have to be ready to take the opportunity. We need more than 11 players. Every player has to be ready to play.”

Harder call

Guardiola admits deciding which of his strikers, Sergio Agüero or Gabriel Jesus, should play is an even harder call. He said: “Now it is the toughest decision because both with their different qualities and they deserve to play. They have a lot of games and they have to be ready and prepare well.”

Guardiola added that he had not played both together recently, as he did earlier in the season, because injury to the left-back Benjamin Mendy had increased reliance on the winger Leroy Sané.

City have secured a place in the Champions League last 16, so the pressure is off for Feyenoord’s visit, but Guardiola said: “I prepare the same way as always and that’s to win the game.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.