Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho are doubts for Sunday’s game against West Ham. Credit: Getty.
Pep Guardiola has said he will not know until Sunday if Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake will be fit for Manchester City’s Premier League clash with West Ham United this weekend.
The champions could take a huge step towards claiming a fourth league title in five years when they travel to the capital on Sunday.
But City head there with real issues at the back and may only have three fit defenders for the game, with Laporte and Fernandinho - who played at centre-back in mid-week - major doubts for the game.
The pair picked up injuries in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, with Laporte involved in a nasty collision with Raul Jimenez, while Fernandinho was replaced in the latter stages with a knock.
Guardiola said after the game that the pair were doubts for the trip to West Ham: “Apparently it doesn’t look good with Fernandinho,” he revealed. “It’ll be difficult for Sunday. Aymeric had a tough knock and we’ll see for West Ham.”
But speaking again on Friday, ahead of the clash with the Hammers, Guardiola explained he’s still unsure if either will be involved at the London Stadium.
“They are in treatment for these two days and we will see tomorrow. Tomorrow, I think they will try and we will see which players are available to play.
“I think [until] the day of the game we will not be able to decide exactly on the availability of the players.”
In mid-week, City finished the game with Rodri and Nathan Ake at centre-back, a partnership which could be renewed on Sunday.
However, the latter has been struggling with an ongoing ankle issue over recent weeks, which prevented him from starting in the last three matches.
Ake, along with Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko, are Guardiola’s only fit, senior defenders for Sunday’s game, although youth-team players CJ Egan-Riley and Luke Mbete are also options.
Asked about playing Rodri at centre-back, Guardiola said he has full faith in the midfielder’s ability to perform in an unorthodox position.
“I said before, if we have to handle these absences for a few months we will be in big trouble,” the Catalan explained. “But for one or two games, the players will do their best when not playing in their position.
“The concentration and focus when you play in another position is higher and, like we saw against Wolves, they can do it fine.”
John Stones, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake aren’t available, with the City manager recently confirming the trio will miss the remainder of the season through injury.