Manchester City will have to fight for the Premier League title without three key defenders as Ruben Dias, John Stones and Kyle Walker have all been ruled out with injuries.
Pep Guardiola’s men sit three points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table and must navigate meetings with Wolves, West Ham and Aston Villa to secure a sixth crown in 11 seasons.
They’re favourable fixtures on paper but Guardiola has confirmed that he will have to face them without Dias, Stones and Walker, while he is also concerned about the fitness of another defender, Dutchman Nathan Ake.
“Ruben, Kyle and John are out until the end of the season,” Guardiola revealed after the romping 5-0 win over Newcastle.
“In this situation it’s not a problem, Rodri can play there. We have the academy. Everyone has to do extra. Thirteen players and a half for these games and everyone has to do more and more to help our absence. We arrive with problems and that’s all. Fernandinho did good and we are going to do it.”
Fernandinho came off the bench to replace the injured Dias at half-time of Sunday’s win and is now likely to retain that position for the remainder of the season alongside Aymeric Laporte, who is the only senior defender not carrying an injury.
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When asked how important Fernandinho will be to his side’s run-in, Guardiola said: “A lot, otherwise, it’s CJ [Egan-Riley] or [Luke] Mbete.”
While Guardiola has been figuring out a solution to his injury issues, he has also been speaking with Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland over his vision for the Norway international at the Etihad Stadium.