John Stones has been ruled out for a month with a muscle injury, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

City's defensive options had already been hit by Aymeric Laporte being ruled out for six months by a knee injury, while no replacement was signed for departed club captain Vincent Kompany.

That left Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as City's only senior centre-backs and the pair looked shaky last time out as the champions went down to their first Premier League defeat since January, losing 3-2 away to promoted Norwich City.

City will be further stretched for the upcoming period after Guardiola told reporters ahead of a Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk that Stones was injured in training on Tuesday.

"A month, four or five weeks," Guardiola said when asked how long Stones would be out.

Guardiola previously indicated full-back Kyle Walker and defensive midfielder Fernandinho - an unused substitute against the Canaries - could be options in the heart of City's defence.

The City boss said he could also turn to teenage duo Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis to address the growing injury crisis at the back.

"[It is a] Big challenge. For me as a manager, it's an incredible challenge: just one central defender in Nico," he added.

"But I believe a lot. People don't know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players are going to come back with Fernandinho, Garcia, Harwood-Bellis.

"It's happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. If they are not able, they are not able. We have to have 11 players on the pitch, and I like it, finding a solution."

Stones will likely miss Premier League games against Watford, Everton and Wolves at least as well as an EFL Cup trip to Preston North End and a Champions League home game against Dinamo Zagreb.

City will also be without Phil Foden against Shakhtar, with Guardiola confirming: "He has a virus, a problem with the stomach. He's not able [to play] this game or I think the next."

John Stones has been ruled out for a month with a muscle injury, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

City's defensive options had already been hit by Aymeric Laporte being ruled out for six months by a knee injury, while no replacement was signed for departed club captain Vincent Kompany.

That left Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as City's only senior centre-backs and the pair looked shaky last time out as City went down to their first Premier League defeat since January, losing 3-2 away to promoted Norwich City.

City will be further stretched for the upcoming period after Guardiola told reporters ahead of a Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk that Stones was injured in training on Tuesday.

"A month, four or five weeks," Guardiola said when asked how long Stones would be out.

Birmingham City have been fined £42,500 by the Football Association (FA) after Jack Grealish was attacked by a fan during the derby clash with Aston Villa in March.

Grealish was punched by a supporter, who was later sentenced to 14 weeks in prison and handed a 10-year ban from football matches, as Villa beat Birmingham in the Championship en route to promotion.

Birmingham issued Grealish an apology and banned the perpetrator for life, with the FA now confirming the club's punishment over the incident.

"An independent regulatory commission has fined Birmingham City £42,500 and warned them as to their future conduct," said the FA's statement.

"The club submitted it used all due diligence but was found to have failed to ensure that its spectator[s], and all persons purporting to be its supporters or followers, conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from improper and/or violent behaviour and/or refrained from encroaching onto the pitch area during the EFL Championship fixture against Aston Villa on 10 March 2019."

David Alaba will miss up to three weeks with the thigh tear he suffered on Saturday, Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac has confirmed.

Austria international Alaba was forced to skip the Bundesliga draw against RB Leipzig after injuring his left thigh during the warm-up at the Red Bull Arena.

Kovac's timeline potentially rules the left-back out of action until after the October international break.

He will miss Wednesday's home meeting with Red Star Belgrade and is in doubt for the club's second Champions League encounter, a trip to Tottenham at the start of next month.

"David will be out for two, maximum three weeks," Kovac said.

"Obviously, David is a really important player for us. Unfortunately he's going to be out for a couple of weeks but Lucas Hernandez won the World Cup in that position.

"He has a different interpretation of how to play at left-back than David does but he does a very good job.

"Alphonso [Davies] can play in that position, that's actually why we fielded him against Leipzig. He didn't play as a left-back but we fielded him so that he could work together with Lucas. Tomorrow is a Champions League game, it might be a bit different."

One man who could benefit from Alaba's injury is Jerome Boateng.

The centre-back, routinely linked with a move elsewhere during the transfer window, stepped into the starting XI at late notice against Leipzig and impressed Kovac.

"I keep saying the same thing about Jerome Boateng - he's a part of this team and as a part of this team I treat him like everyone else," the Bayern boss said.

"Everyone has the right to play here. Jerome didn't play a lot in the last couple of weeks, however, on Saturday he had to play from the first moment to the last and it was a class performance. I want to emphasise that.

"Of course, I have a lot of very good players. It was his first game [in the Bundesliga] and he played 90 minutes. That's a different rhythm from someone who plays once or twice a week.

"We'll have to see how he copes. I am happy with him and he will get chances to play, that's all I can say really."

Lionel Messi has his sights on a record set by Real Madrid great Raul when Barcelona face Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, as the Champions League proper gets started for the 2019-20 season.

Barca's talisman is back in their squad for the trip to Germany after missing the start of the campaign with a calf injury and, while he is unlikely to start, few would bet against him having a decisive impact if he does make an appearance.

Reigning champions Liverpool begin their title defence at Napoli in what will surely prove to be a tricky test, although Sadio Mane will be aiming to equal a record set by Didier Drogba.

There will also be Champions League bows in the dugout for Frank Lampard and Sylvinho.

Below, we examine the key data for Tuesday's encounters...

Salzburg v Genk

0 - Salzburg have not lost any of their last 18 home matches in European competition (W14 D4 – including qualifiers), with their most recent defeat at home coming in October 2016 against Nice in the Europa League.

1 - Genk forward Mbwana Samatta scored nine goals in 12 appearances in European competition last season and he also finished with 23 goals in the Belgian top flight in 2018-19. Should he play in this match, he will be the first Tanzanian player to make an appearance in the Champions League.

 

Napoli v Liverpool

5 - Napoli have won just one of their past six European meetings with English clubs, losing the other five in this run and failing to score in the most recent three. That one victory was against Liverpool last season, though.

15 - Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has scored 14 goals in 24 Champions League appearances. Should he score in his next outing, he will equal Didier Drogba's record of needing just 25 appearances to score his first 15 goals in the competition, a record for any African player.

 

Inter v Slavia Prague

20 - Inter will be making their 20th appearance in the Champions League/European Cup – only Juventus (34) and AC Milan (28) have had more among Italian sides (including 2019-20).

24 - Inter forward Alexis Sanchez has been involved in 24 goals (12 goals, 12 assists) in his 52 Champions League appearances, but none of these involvements came in six games in the competition for Manchester United, the club he left on loan last month.

 

Borussia Dortmund v Barcelona

33 - Lionel Messi has scored against 32 of the 37 different opponents he has faced in the Champions League. Should he score against Dortmund, the Barcelona star will equal the competition's record for different teams scored against, set by Raul (33 clubs).

2 - Borussia Dortmund have won just two of their past eight Champions League home matches (D2 L4), losing their most recent match 1-0 against Tottenham in the last 16 in 2018-19.

 

Lyon v Zenit

1 - Lyon boss Sylvinho will manage in the Champions League for the first time, also becoming the first non-Frenchman to take charge of the club in Europe's elite competition. The Brazilian made 32 Champions League appearances as a player for Barcelona, Celta Vigo and Arsenal, scoring three goals.

58 - Zenit captain Branislav Ivanovic could make his first Champions League appearance since March 2016 (for Chelsea) in this match. He has made 58 appearances in the competition; only Dejan Stankovic (87) and Predrag Djordjevic (62) have made more among Serbian players.

 

Benfica v RB Leipzig

10 - Benfica are Portugal's sole representative in the 2019-20 Champions League, making it the first time in a decade that there is only one Portuguese club in the competition.

3 - Timo Werner scored three goals from just seven shots on target in the Champions League back in 2017-18, more than any other RB Leipzig player. He went on to net seven times in European competition that term, the highest total by an RB Leipzig player in a single season.

 

Ajax v Lille

6 - Ajax won six games in the 2018-19 Champions League, as many as they did in their previous four participations in the competition.

11 - Including qualifiers, Lille have not won any of their past 11 European matches in all competitions (D6 L5) and scored only five goals in these games.

 

Chelsea v Valencia

102 - Frank Lampard will take charge of a Champions League game for the first time in his managerial career. As a Chelsea player, he made 102 appearances in the competition and is one of only 22 players to have played 100 games or more in the tournament with the same club.

2 - Valencia have reached the Champions League in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2012-13 (three in a row), which was also the last time they made it to the knockout stages of the competition, before being beaten by Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears set on his determination to bring young British talent to Manchester United.

There are four English names on the United manager's radar, apparently, as he looks to rebuild the team into a title-winning force once more.

The end of the season could potentially see a spend of a similar magnitude to the £150million, more or less, that he spent on Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James this year.

 

TOP STORY - MADDISON AND SANCHO TOP SOLSKJAER'S WISH LIST

As per ESPN, Manchester United will pursue deals for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho and Leicester City's James Maddison in 2020.

Manager Solskjaer is set on his policy of recruiting young, hungry British talent and remains keen on signing Sancho, who was reportedly a target this year.

United believe Leicester could sell Maddison for around £70m and are also interested in Newcastle United's Sean Longstaff, Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson and Stoke City's Nathan Collins.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona have been ordered by a judge to pay a €300 fine or play a match behind closed doors as part of Atletico Madrid's complaint against the transfer of Antoine Griezmann, Marca say. Atleti believe they are owed more than the €120m Barca paid to activate his release clause.

- The Daily Mail report Napoli are interested in Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, a player they value at around €34m (£30.1m). 

- A handful of reports in Italy suggest Bernard Arnault, the billionaire owner of Louis Vuitton, is interested in buying Serie A giants AC Milan

- Back with Manchester United, and Calciomercato say JuventusInter, Milan and Borussia Dortmund are all keeping an eye on Nemanja Matic, who has grown frustrated at his reduced role in Solskjaer's plans.

A member of the Jamaica College Manning Cup Football team was rushed to hospital evening following a lightning strike that felled five players during a match in the ISSA Manning Cup competition against Wolmers’ Boys at Stadium East in Kingston on Monday.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen says it was "inappropriate" for Manuel Neuer to criticise him for speaking out about a desire for more game time for Germany.

Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen described it as a "massive blow" not to feature for his country against Netherlands and Northern Ireland in the international break.

The 27-year-old has had to serve as back-up to Neuer for most of his international career, despite increasing calls for him to be given the number one spot ahead of the Bayern Munich star.

Neuer accused Ter Stegen of being unhelpful by expressing his frustrations in public and suggested he had shown something of a lack of respect towards Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp, who likewise are battling for more Germany playing time.

Ter Stegen, who has returned to his homeland for Tuesday's Champions League clash between Barca and Borussia Dortmund, thinks Neuer has been unfair but wants to draw a line under the issue.

He told a news conference: "I would like to say something about this. You cannot say we have competition for the goalkeeper position and then expect the players to be happy with the situation if they don't play. Football is about happiness but also disappointment.

"Manuel Neuer does not need to comment on my personal feelings and measure them, I'd say. It's my own opinion. If you think about the last few years, you realise that I always behaved well and what Neuer and other people have said is not fair.

"His remarks were inappropriate but I don't want to say much more. I want to end this controversy."

Ter Stegen's immediate priority is to help sure up Barca's defence, with the Catalans having conceded seven goals in their opening four LaLiga games of 2019-20.

"We're trying to stop the goals going in but things haven't come off," he said. "It's not what we expected. We have to improve. There have been mistakes that we can easily correct. We've spoken about it."

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo admits not everything is resolved with Neymar, but he wants the constant talk around the player to end.

Having failed to secure his desired move back to Barcelona in the transfer window, Neymar made his first appearance of the season in Saturday's Ligue 1 meeting with Strasbourg.

The Brazil star was booed by PSG fans with almost every touch but went on to score the winning goal in the 1-0 victory with a stunning overhead kick in the 92nd minute.

The 27-year-old said afterwards that he expects every game to be like an away match given PSG fans' frustration with his desire to leave the club.

Leonardo is not prepared to ignore Neymar's determination to force an exit just two years on from his €222million arrival, but he insists his compatriot should be allowed the freedom to make amends without scrutiny of his every word and action.

"Neymar made mistakes, yes, but when the transfer window ended he came back in a positive way," Leonardo told RMC.

"He showed up on time [for training] after his matches with Brazil and he behaved very well. He played an important game in not easy conditions. And he scored a spectacular goal, in a Hollywood scenario. And, after the match, he made an honest and very good statement.

"It's certain that, if we look at what he said word for word, we'll always find things to comment on. And it's true that we can't say today that everything is settled. But you can't make a Mexican telenovela around it all. We have to play and to train.

"He is now subject to the same internal rules as all the other players. He's here and he's part of the club.

"Neymar is not a bad guy. He's part of the heritage of football, not just PSG. When you look at the squad, and what we have, for sure we are stronger with him."

PSG meet Real Madrid at Parc des Princes on Tuesday in their opening Champions League group game, with Neymar unavailable due to a three-game suspension.

Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe are set to miss out through injury, leaving Mauro Icardi and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting as PSG's primary attacking options.

Jurgen Klopp dismissed his agent's talk of the weather in Liverpool as a joke that had been misunderstood, clarifying he would not leave Merseyside simply for a warmer climate.

The Reds boss' future was brought up as friend and agent Marc Kosicke complained to DAZN of the gloomy weather during Liverpool winters, suggesting it had hindered contract talks in the past.

But Klopp, facing the media ahead of playing Napoli in the Champions League, sought to set the record straight.

While making repeated light-hearted comments about the temperature of the sweltering media room in Naples, Klopp explained: "He wanted to make a joke so I have to be serious.

"I could make a lot of jokes about the weather - especially sitting here sweating like crazy... I'm not sure I could work here.

"It was obviously the German humour and nobody got it. The weather was never a reason for me to choose a city.

"Liverpool is not always nice but, between March and September, it's nicer than I imagined. I came in October and you could say not to move to Liverpool in October because, until March, it's not too cool.

"It was a bit harsh and I spoke a lot about the weather, but it was long ago. Now, when I speak about the weather, I speak about the wind, which has an affect on football, but that is not allowed as well in England.

"It's not a reason for me to leave the country. I'm fine with the weather. Maybe, at the moment, it's the most healthy weather in the world - we have enough rain, wind is there, it's pretty much the opposite of this room.

"I enjoy that quite often. There's nothing in that story. Obviously it was a bump - he said something and they all went for it.

"He's not only my agent, he's my friend; friends say what they want and he did that and nobody got his joke. That's how it is."

Meanwhile, preparing for the first match of Liverpool's title defence, Klopp remained in jovial mood as it was put to him that his side might be the best in Europe.

Laughing as he heard the question, the manager said: "We cannot be the best team in Europe as Man City are the best team in the world. That's the same planet, I heard.

"There are a lot of good teams out there and you have to prove it constantly. Last year, we were really good. I'm not sure we were the best team in Europe, but we were really good at the right moments. That's why we won the Champions League."

Captain Jordan Henderson similarly was not interested in talk of being considered favourites for the Champions League.

"It's too early to be saying stuff like that," he said. "We have started the season really well and just want to continue that.

"We still feel we can improve and get better - that's what we will try to do tomorrow night. We will try to give everything and start the campaign off really well."

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool do not feel the burden of being Champions League holders as they begin the defence of their title with a trip to Napoli.

Liverpool were crowned European champions for a sixth time in June with a 2-0 victory over domestic rivals Tottenham in Madrid.

Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti rates the Premier League leaders as favourites to retain their continental crown and Klopp is determined to create more history this season at Anfield. 

"We don't feel the burden of being champions," he said at his pre-match news conference. "It was long ago [that we won it]. 

"We haven't spoken about being holders. Until Saturday we were really focused on Newcastle and yesterday we had a session and today we had one. We spoke about the competition then.

"Will teams play differently against us? I have no clue. I've never won the Champions League before. I hope we are prepared for that.

"You cannot imagine how normal it is to carry on after the celebrations - if you have the right character. We want to create more stories in the future.

"If you start drinking and taking drugs, driving different cars and leaving your missus at home because you are a Champions League winner, then I can't help you."

Liverpool lost all three away games in last season's group phase, including a 1-0 loss to Napoli at Stadio San Paolo.

Klopp is expecting another difficult match in Tuesday's Group E opener in Naples, where the hosts have lost just one of their last seven Champions League matches.

"Last year we had a very difficult group stage and lost all the away games - we try to use that this year to do better," he said.

"Napoli had another really good season and have started the new one well. 

"They have some really good new players but are mainly the same. We are similar - we didn't sign a lot. Napoli are stubborn in a very positive way. They are creative. I enjoy analysing them.

"Can I be sure that something like that won't happen again? No, but the boys haven't given me any signs to think it.  Let's use our skills, stay in the game, fight for everything."

Liverpool are sweating on the fitness of left-back Andy Robertson for Tuesday's match and Divock Origi will definitely miss out.

"Robbo didn't train today and we have to see," Klopp told the club's official website.

"It is not a major thing, it was more precautionary today, but it is not 100 per cent sure [he will be available]. We will have to test it tomorrow and then we will see.

"Origi? We expect him [to be out for] between one and two weeks, but it depends a little bit on when he can deal with the pain."

Al Sadd claimed a 3-1 win at home to Al-Nassr in Monday's second leg to edge through 4-3 on aggregate and become the first team to book their place in the AFC Champions League semi-finals.

Xavi's side squandered a one-goal lead to trail 2-1 from last month's reverse fixture but they were right back in the tie when Akram Afif headed in from the edge of the six-yard box with 26 minutes played in Doha.

Al-Nassr were again in front on aggregate seven minutes later as Abderrazak Hamdallah fired home a free-kick, but the hosts produced a stirring comeback in the second half.

Hassan Al Haydos guided a shot into the top corner to level things up once more and Baghdad Bounedjah completed the comeback from the penalty spot seven minutes from time after Afif was brought down inside the box by Abdullah Madu.

Carlo Ancelotti rates Liverpool as favourites to win the Champions League but has warned that his Napoli side have also improved since last season's meeting.

Liverpool lost 1-0 in Naples last October but won the reverse fixture to scrape through the group stage at Napoli's expense and went on to lift the famous trophy for a sixth time.

The sides face off again at Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday in their Group E opener and Ancelotti has targeted another victory on home soil against "the best team in Europe".

"Liverpool have grown because last season gave them so much awareness," he said at his pre-match news conference.

"On the other hand, we've also grown because we've added more quality to our squad.

"It'll be a hard-fought match as we'll be facing the best team in Europe. We hope to get the same result as last season."

Liverpool have built on their Champions League success by making a perfect start to this season's Premier League campaign, Jurgen Klopp's men winning all five of their matches.

Napoli conceded seven goals in their opening two Serie A games before Saturday's 2-0 win over Sampdoria, meanwhile, but Ancelotti does not intend to alter his tactics.

"We mustn't distort our identity and idea," he said. "We must take inspiration from the good things we've done and the problems we've been faced with.

"We defended very well against them last season and the defensive aspect is very important in games like these.

"I expect a team capable of defending when necessary, attacking when the opportunity arises and keeping the ball when needed. We'll need the perfect game."

Ancelotti has mixed memories of playing and managing against Liverpool but is relishing this latest showdown.

"My biggest disappointments and my greatest joys are linked to Liverpool," he said. "I lost two finals against them - one as a player with Roma and one as a coach with Milan, and I won one.

"They're a team who I feel affection for. Playing at Anfield is always a unique feeling for the environment that it creates.

"We want to be leading lights in the Champions League, but your progress is influenced by so many factors."

Hellas Verona have insisted they will always condemn incidents of racism, with the club adamant they were not made aware of any abuse allegedly aimed at AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie.

The Serie A side issued a tweet on Monday distancing themselves from reports that Kessie was targeted during Milan's 1-0 win at Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi on Sunday.

Kessie is alleged to have been subjected to monkey chants from a small section of home fans, but Hellas have reiterated in a statement on their official website that the suggestions are "baseless".

"Hellas Verona FC, in reference to what was put out today by the club's Twitter account, specify that it was not at all a final position to understate any discriminatory behaviour, which has taken place on various playing fields," the statement read.

"That's because we've always condemned these incidents, committing ourselves directly to various initiatives so as to confront them and fight them as much as possible and within our competence.

"That said, we therefore believe it was simply our duty to emphasise that, in the face of some baseless news, except for the sound of whistles and general disappointment from fans regarding some debatable incidents during the game, we weren't made aware of any chants against the opposing player Kessie, nor did we hear any.

"Nevertheless, we reiterate once more that we'll always be firm in condemning any misconduct which should occur in the future, with a collaborative spirit and sensitivity."

Antonio Conte is committed to building a "special" Inter side but has called for patience from fans and media alike ahead of the Nerazzurri's Champions League meeting with Slavia Prague.

Inter have won all three of their opening Serie A fixtures under Conte and sit top of the table.

Head coach Conte, though, has insisted patience will be required throughout the campaign, conceding the Champions League will make it more difficult for him to pin down Inter's new style of play.

"It will be hard to play on more than one front. The more time you have the easier it is for the coach and also for the players to recover," Conte told a news conference.

"The Champions League is a great source of motivation, we all want to do well and go far for the fans too, but it is not easy for me in my goal of creating a side with an identity.

"There is real desire to create something special, we are laying solid foundations for something important.

"It is vital we keep our feet on the ground, but the enthusiasm must come from the results, from our hard work and our aims, so time and patience is needed.

"I played in three Champions League finals and coached Juventus in the Champions League too, my record there was good.

"At Chelsea too, I coached in the Champions League, this is my fourth season as a coach in the Champions League, but it takes time to win it, you need experience, you need to create a side with an identity.

"In the past I have coached sides still being built. It has not been easy for me."

The arrival of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez have boosted Inter's attack, while Conte's side have scored seven and conceded just once in their three league matches so far.

Lukaku has scored twice so far, though had to be taken off with an injury midway through the second half against Udinese on Saturday.

"Lukaku will train today," Conte said when asked if the forward was fit.

"He had a back injury against Udinese but we will see and evaluate his fitness."

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