Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has revealed centre back John Stones is set to miss the next four to five weeks of action after picking up a muscle injury in training on Tuesday.
Stones partnered Nicolas Otamendi to all round terrible reviews in the 3-2 defeat at Norwich on Saturday, but the injury leaves City seriously thin in central defence.
Speaking to the press ahead of City's Champions League
Asked if there were any injuries to report, he explained: "John Stones, he picked up an injury this morning. Four, five weeks. A muscular problem."
Naturally, after the defensive lapses that cost them in the Norwich loss, and with Aymeric Laporte similarly sidelined, this could not have come at a worse time for the Catalan, and leaves them with just one bonafide central defender in Otamendi.
However, while he refused to deny it would be a sincere challenge, the tactician remained upbeat, declaring: "Big challenge. So for me as a manager, it’s an incredible challenge, just one central defender in Nico."
The other options he has at his disposal are central midfielder Fernandinho, who has played at the back before, and youth team prospects Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
Keeping the faith, Guardiola continued: "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, Garcia, Harwood-Bellis.
PEP: It's an incredible challenge with just one central defender @fernandinho and maybe @ericgm3 and @bellis_taylor will come forward for the next few months.— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 17, 2019
What we will not do is complain that they are not able to play.
"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 are injured for a long time."
If that wasn't enough, it was also unveiled that midfielder prodigy Phil Foden would also be out for the next couple of games, with Guardiola revealing: "He has a virus problem with the stomach. He will miss this game and maybe the next."