Pep Guardiola has confirmed Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake will miss Sunday’s Manchester derby through injury.
Even more concerning, the Manchester City manager said Dias will be out for around four to six weeks due to a hamstring problem.
Guardiola has said earlier this week that Dias and Ake were replaced due to injury in Tuesday’s FA Cup win over Peterborough United.
"Nathan finished bad in the action when he got the yellow card [at the end of the first half] and Ruben was not feeling good in his leg,” the Catalan explained.
But speaking in Friday’s pre-match press conference ahead of the clash with Manchester United, Guardiola said the pair have not recovered in time to face the Red Devils, although there was slightly better news regarding Cole Palmer.
“Nathan and Ruben are not available for Sunday. The rest are ready. Cole Palmer feels better, can hopefully start to train with us in the next days. The rest are good,” he told reporters.
Asked to expand, Guardiola said: ““It happens during the season, maybe one of the best players one season was eight or nine months out like Kevin [De Bruyne].
“I would not love it, we need him. Ruben is massively important but he is not there; I am not going to cry.
“Nathan is injured again but I think it is less [time out] We have two central defenders. We have 15 players available. We’ve had 15 players for the last month and people say we were lucky with Covid. We just play and will try to fight and play good.”
It means City are expected to start with John Stones and Aymeric Laporte at heart of defence on Sunday, with Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo in the full-back positions.
The concern for the Sky Blues in the coming weeks will be the number of big games Dias will miss. In the next few weeks City face an FA Cup quarter-final clash with Southampton, while they are likely to make the next stage of the Champions League.
Meanwhile, City also face Liverpool in a pivotal Premier League fixture next month, one that could go a long way to determining which side will finish top.