Manchester City defender John Stones has been ruled out for up to five weeks with a muscular injury, says Pep Guardiola.
The England centre-back suffered the problem in training ahead of City’s Champions League opener against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.
Stones only returned for Manchester City on Saturday after recovering from a previous muscular problem, with the shock 3-2 defeat at Norwich being his first appearance in the Premier League since the opening day win at West Ham.
Guardiola said on Tuesday: “He [Stones] is out four, five or six weeks. He was injured in training this morning. It is a muscular problem.”
Stones’ absence will add to the defensive problems for City boss Guardiola, with French centre-back Aymeric Laporte already likely to be ruled out until January.
This leaves City with just one recognised first-team centre-back going into Wednesday’s fixture against Shakhtar, with 18-year-old Eric Garcia or central midfielder Fernandinho in line to partner Nicolas Otamendi.
Guardiola added: “For me as a manager it is an incredible challenge. But I believe in something people don’t know about – spirit and commitment. We will make steps forward to solve this problem.”
Stones started alongside Otamendi in central defence against Norwich and the pair were often caught out of position as the Canaries’ forwards scored three times, but Guardiola has backed his defenders.
He added: “I have a lot of respect for what John and Nico have done. Football is not about how you handle the good situations. It is about how you handle the bad ones.”
Phil Foden has not travelled with the rest of the City squad to Ukraine due to illness, but Guardiola revealed he could be back in time for Saturday’s Premier League fixture at home to Watford.