Man City suffer defensive injury concern ahead of Real Madrid second leg

One of Pep Guardiola’s most important players wasn’t involved against Luton on Saturday.
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Manchester City suffered an injury concern ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid, with John Stones missing Saturday’s 5-1 win over Luton Town.

The defender was a surprise omission from the squad that was announced an hour before kick-off at the Etihad, with Stones’ absence put down to the England international not being fully fit.

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It’s a major concern for Pep Guardiola ahead of the second leg against Madrid. The reigning European champions drew 3-3 at the Bernabeu last week in the first of the quarter-final double header.

Stones operates a unique role in the City team and habitually advances from centre-back into midfield, often ending up pushing all the way into the opposition box. It’s an assignment both Manuel Akanji and Rico Lewis have been asked to carry out at times, but neither have perfected the role like Stones.

But there was better news for City with Kyle Walker and Nathan Ake both named on the bench for Saturday’s game. The defensive duo weren’t involved in Madrid on Tuesday due to injury, but their selection against Luton means both could be available for the midweek encounter.

Phil Foden, who was withdrawn with a knock against Real, was also named of the bench, along with Rodri, Bernado Silva and Jack Grealish, who were handed a rest ahead of Champions League decider. Meanwhile, Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland were withdrawn in the final 10 minutes of the 5-1 win at the Etihad.

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Mateo Kovacic, Haaland, Jeremy Doku, Josko Gvardiol were on target for the Premier League champions on Saturday, along with a Diaki Hashioka own-goal in the opening two minutes. It’s a win that, at least temporarily moves City to the league summit, with Liverpool and Arsenal in action on Sunday.

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