Guardiola names three John Stones replacements amid Man City injury crisis, including teenager Harwood-Bellis who ‘blew away’ team-mates in pre-season
Sept. 18, 2019
PEP GUARDIOLA has named the three players he has lined-up to replace John Stones amid Manchester City's injury crisis, including teenager Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
Man City were dealt a massive blow after Stones limped out of training on Tuesday on the back of Aymeric Laporte's injury.
Guardiola is now worryingly short in the heart of defence ahead of their Champions League clash against Shakhtar Donetsk - but is looking forward to the challenge.
Ahead of the game, Guardiola revealed: “John got injured making a pass. [Now] it’s a big challenge. For me as a manager it is an incredible challenge.
"We’ve got just one [recognised] central defender in Nico but I believe a lot in something people don’t know, which is the spirit and commitment.
"Everyone must make a step forward to solve this problem we have.”
Guardiola is now expected to use defensive midfielder Fernandinho alongside Otamendi in the heart of defence.
But the City chief is also set to lean on teenagers Eric Garcia and Harwood-Bellis - with the latter already impressing his team-mates.
The 6ft 2ins centre-back, 17, certainly didn't look out of place alongside Aymeric Laporte in pre-season - leaving City 's stars "blown away".
And Guardiola continued by saying he's happy to soldier on with his youngsters, at least until January.
The Spaniard claimed: "We will go with them for the next few months. It is what it is; sometimes these situations happen.
"It has happened and what we are not going to do is complain.”
When asked if he is serious about Fernandinho playing in defence, much like how he converted Javier Mascherano at Barcelona, Pep revealed: “We don’t have many other options.
“He arrived back late [just before the season started] and he’s 34-years-old – that’s why he hasn’t played longer.
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"He trained last week in the international break and it went well.
"With the experience he has [and his profile] as a team-mate and his personality, of course he can play in that position.
“Sometimes for tactical reasons he played there last season and now with him, Taylor Bellis, Eric and Nico, we are going to play them in that position.
"It’s not a problem, it is a challenge; they will do it, no problem."
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