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Manchester City blow as Stones ruled out of Shakhtar clash

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By Reuters
Manchester City blow as Stones ruled out of Shakhtar clash
Soccer Football - Champions League - Manchester City Press Conference - Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv, Ukraine - September 17, 2019 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during the press conference REUTERS/Gleb Garanich   -   Copyright  GLEB GARANICH(Reuters)

(Reuters) – Manchester City’s defensive injury problems deepened ahead of their opening Champions League clash away to Shakhtar Donetsk with centre back John Stones being ruled out with a muscle injury.

City manager Pep Guardiola broke the news during his pre-match news conference.

“He made a pass and was injured,” Guardiola told reporters, confirming the injury occurred during Tuesday’s training session. “No problems, he (Fernandinho) can deal with it and he will do well because my players are well.

“We will create something, it is what it is.”

Fresh from a shock 3-2 Premier League defeat by promoted Norwich City and with French centre back Aymeric Laporte out injured until January or February, the news that Stones could now miss five weeks gives Guardiola a headache.

“Football is not how you handle good situations, but how you handle bad ones,” he said. “We won seven titles and no one gave us anything, we did it ourselves.

“I am ready for the challenge. I like this situation.”

Shakhtar are dangerous opponents, especially on their own turf, and City are down to their last available established central defender in Nicolas Otamendi.

“Big challenge. So for me as a manager it’s an incredible challenge, just one central defender in Nico,” Guardiola said.

“But I believe a lot, people don’t know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. It’s happened, but what we are not going to do is complain.”

Midfielder Phil Foden is also out of Wednesday’s match through illness.

“He has a virus problem with the stomach. He will miss this game and maybe the next,” Guardiola said.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)