Pep Guardiola insists he was happy with his side's performance despite Jonjo Shevley's late strike for Newcastle United denying Manchester City all three points on Saturday.

City looked like they were heading for a slender win after Kevin De Bruyne's stunning 82nd-minute strike, but Shelvey whipped home from 25 yards to seal a 2-2 draw for Steve Bruce's side.

City were far from their fluid best at St James' Park and could end the day 11 points behind leaders Liverpool if Jurgen Klopp's side overcome Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield.

Guardiola, though, felt his players performed well enough to have taken all three points.

"We played at a good level," he said. "We moved well, we created enough chances – unfortunately that happens [Shelvey's goal]. In general, we played good. I think we played at the level of last season."

Asked if he was frustrated by the perceived negative tactics of the hosts, Guardiola responded: "It's what we have lived with for the last four years – it's always like this. We found a way today but at the end we conceded a goal."

Despite the gap to leaders Liverpool, defender John Stones says City have no intention of throwing in the towel in their bid for a third consecutive title.

"From elation to deflation; it's a difficult one to take," he said.

"It's still on because we will still fight until the last day like we did last season. The spirit has always got to be there because anything can happen in any game."

Gian Piero Gasperini has vowed to stick to his principles by sending Atalanta out to attack Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Atalanta lead the scoring charts in Serie A with 30 goals in their first 11 matches of the campaign, including seven in one game against Udinese last month.

However, it has been a different story in their maiden Champions League campaign as Gasperini's men are bottom of Group C without a point after losing 5-1 to City at the Etihad Stadium on October 22.

Rather than look to avoid another humiliation at San Siro, though, Gasperini intends for Atalanta to again go on the offensive, having taken the lead in Manchester.

The coach was not impressed by Southampton's defensive tactics against City on Saturday, even as they pushed Pep Guardiola's men all the way before the Premier League champions won 2-1.

"I saw Manchester City's last match against Southampton, which they won late, but we don't want to do that," he said at Tuesday's news conference.

"We will try to stay true to our brand of football. No one wants to concede lots of goals, but we will play attacking football."

City can guarantee a place in the last 16 with victory in Milan, but Guardiola has been tipped to make changes to his side ahead of Sunday's huge domestic showdown with Liverpool.

Regardless of the line-up fielded by the visitors, Gasperini acknowledges his side have their work cut out to get off the mark in Group C in this fixture.

"I don't think [it is a good time to play them] because Manchester City have 23 or 24 good players, so whoever steps out can do a very good job," he said.

"I think they will be at 100 per cent tomorrow night and ultimately they want to qualify for the next round as soon as possible.

"They will want to get points to secure top spot in the group as soon as possible. I expect to see my team produce a good performance against a quality side and I expect to see our best level.

"Tomorrow's game, despite the ability of Manchester City, is an opportunity for us to see where we are in terms of qualification, finishing third for the Europa League. It's a very tough match."

One change Guardiola is expected to make from the reverse meeting between the two sides last month is at centre-back, with John Stones now back in contention after recovering from a muscle injury.

The England international realises there is added responsibility on his shoulders given the prolonged absence of defensive colleague Aymeric Laporte.

"If you want to put it like that, yeah, I think we've all got to step up as players and fight for our positions," he said. "We've also got to play for the lads who are injured like Aymeric and Leroy [Sane].

"We have to keep setting the standard for each other. That's what's brought us the success last season. We've got to take that responsibility as individuals and as a team."

For a player who built his reputation as a youthful Rolls-Royce of a centre-back, there has been a jarring element of slapstick around Manchester City's John Stones of late.

During the closing stages of an eventually comfortable 3-0 win over Aston Villa, the England international blocked a shot flush in the face and had to be groggily helped to his feet by City's medical staff.

It was a scene that suited a cracking black eye collected at the end of last week's win at Crystal Palace.

Similarly, Stones sporting the shiner when Pep Guardiola tore into him for not putting his shin pads on quickly enough to replace an injured Rodri during the midweek thrashing of Atalanta created something of a class-clown vibe.

The 25-year-old was back in City's starting line-up against Villa for the first time since his second ill-timed thigh injury of a season yet to click fully into gear.

Stones' first setback denied him the chance to put down an early marker in City's post-Vincent Kompany era. Then, in September, he followed knee-injury victim Aymeric Laporte into the treatment room.

Concerns about match fitness would have been natural, but the sight of Fernandinho and Rodri – two career midfielders – starting ahead of the specialist Stones over the past week spoke of a discontentment on Guardiola's part that goes deeper than how quickly the Yorkshireman is able to dress himself.

Despite once famously commending Stones' testicular fortitude, Guardiola has shifted the man he made his first major defensive signing at City to the margins during their back-to-back triumphant title run-ins.

At the end of 2018-19, he started two games in all competitions after limping out of a 1-0 Premier League win over Bournemouth at the start of March. An unprecedented domestic treble arrived with Stones relegated to the supporting cast.

Circumstances have now aligned to make this a pivotal moment in the career of a player who should be coming into his prime.

Kompany left, Harry Maguire did not join, Laporte got injured and Nicolas Otamendi – who will never appear less accident-prone than Stones, even if the black eye lasts a lifetime – suffered a bad back.

Rodri pulled a hamstring and Fernandinho's introduction to the heart of defence, although impressive for the most part this week, cannot really escape a penalty conceded in the first half versus Atalanta and an avoidable red card against Villa in the final analysis.

Battered and visibly bruised, Stones is Guardiola's last man standing, with a season-defining trip to Anfield on the horizon.

His felt like a mixed bag against Villa. Before second-half goals from Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan ensured City's ambitious and pugnacious visitors ran out of road, Stones almost gave them the lead.

A pass straight to John McGinn recalled those awfully absent-minded moments that still come too frequently, such as when England's Nations League Finals ambitions came crashing down against Netherlands in June.

A brilliant Ederson save and the scrambling efforts of Fernandinho and Joao Cancelo bailed him out. Stones' own brave block shortly afterwards ricocheted against his arm and survived a VAR review.

Around all that, the centre-back won all five of his duels - proving to be quietly dominant in the air – conceded no fouls (take note, Fernandinho), made five clearances, won possession four times and completed 91.9 per cent of his passes. It amounts to a performance he can and must build on.

Into stoppage time and after the face block, McGinn's shot on the rebound bounced back off the post and hit City's number five – stationed in the goalmouth – on the back of the knee. The ball spun through his legs and into Ederson's grateful grasp. Perhaps Stones' luck is finally starting to turn.

Rodri is unlikely to feature again for Manchester City before the next international break, but Pep Guardiola was able to shed some light on Oleksandr Zinchenko's mystery injury.

Spain midfielder Rodri, who lined up at centre-back in City's past two matches, pulled up with an apparent hamstring problem during the 5-1 Champions League win over Atalanta in midweek.

Guardiola was hoping for positive news following scans but was told Rodri would likely not return until after the November internationals, which follow immediately after City's huge trip to Premier League leaders Liverpool.

"They told me that after the international break, [Rodri] will be ready again," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of facing Aston Villa on Saturday.

Another defensive option who will miss the Liverpool game is Zinchenko, who was ruled out of Champions League action this week with an unspecified knee injury.

The Ukraine international then uploaded a picture from a hospital bed, seemingly after surgery, but Guardiola is expecting the left-back to be back within four to six weeks.

"[Zinchenko] had a contact with the knee and felt something in the bone," he said. "He has to stop for four weeks, five weeks, more or less.

"He had something [surgery] to clean the knee. It's not a big issue, but five weeks, six weeks he will be out."

Rodri's absence could spell a return to first-team action for John Stones, who has started only twice in the league this season after ending the previous campaign out of the team.

"First choice? It's not about being first choice, it's about being fit," Guardiola said. "For a long time, [Stones] was injured in this period - a long, long time, many, many injuries.

"He could not play. Then he came back last season and Vinny [Kompany] and [Aymeric] Laporte were in incredible top form in a part of the season where I want to have regularity in the central defenders.

"This season, injury, injury, injury, injury. Sometimes, to get a rhythm, you need more time."

Raheem Sterling's mentality is behind his prolific run of form for club and country, according to John Stones.

Manchester City winger Sterling netted a quickfire 11-minuite hat-trick after half-time on Tuesday as Pep Guardiola's side demolished Atalanta 5-1 in the Champions League.

Sterling also supplied the cross for Sergio Aguero's 34th-minute equaliser and won the penalty from which the Argentina striker put City in front.

Of his five career hat-tricks, Sterling has now claimed four match balls in 2019, including a brilliant treble in England's 5-0 Euro 2020 qualification win over the Czech Republic at Wembley in March.

"He's been on fire. He's got that mentality, he wants more," Stones said, before noting the one-on-one opportunity Sterling missed after completing his Atalanta hat-trick would probably disappoint the 24-year-old Ballon d'Or nominee. 

"He showed it [against Atalanta]. He kept trying, he might be disappointed because he could have scored four, but I think he should be very proud for scoring a hat-trick in the Champions League.

"I'm very happy for him and he helped us to take a step closer to the next round."

Sterling has 16 goals in 17 appearances for City and England this term – a flying start to the campaign that contrasts sharply with a 2019-20 yet to get off the ground for Stones.

The former Everton centre-back has been laid low for a month at a time following a pair of thigh injuries and only featured as a substitute against Atalanta and Crystal Palace last weekend despite midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri forming a makeshift centre-back pairing.

"Obviously, it's always frustrating going through injuries," he said.

"To me, it was a bit of a setback. Now I'm back, I feel strong and healthy again. Hopefully I can stay fit and help to fight for every competition."

Stones was introduced on Tuesday after Rodri pulled up with a hamstring injury, while his fellow centre-back Aymeric Laporte is recuperating from knee surgery alongside winger Leroy Sane.

City are waiting to find out the severity of another knee problem sustained by left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko, although Stones was at least able to line up alongside Nicolas Otamendi during the closing stages in midweek – the Argentina defender having shaken off a minor back complaint.

"It's been frustrating for all of us, for the manager, for the team, all the injuries we have got," said the 25-year-old.

"It's been a difficult time for us, but the guys have made a step up. They have done jobs for the team that they are not used to, so I give all the credit to them.

"Now, we [Stones and Otamendi] are back, we need to try to stay fit and healthy to help the team to fight for all the competitions."

Pep Guardiola fears Manchester City could be without Rodri for up to a month after he sustained a hamstring injury during the 5-1 Champions League win over Atalanta.

Spain midfielder Rodri, who became the Premier League champions' record signing when he joined from Atletico Madrid in July, was deployed at centre-back alongside Fernandinho for the second time in the space of a week on Tuesday.

In Saturday's 2-0 Premier League win at Crystal Palace, they made light of Guardiola's selection headache in central defence but a missed header against Atalanta saw Rodri's outing unravel.

He got back to tackle Atalanta captain Alejandro Gomez but instantly signalled to the bench that he needed attention.

Guardiola confirmed after the match that his player's complaint was hamstring-related, with the severity to be determined.

"Tomorrow we will know," City manager Guardiola said. "Hopefully [Rodri will be out] between 10 days if it is not broken [torn].

"If it is broken, it will be three weeks or one month.

"It is hamstring, it looks like. When a guy runs and puts his hand in the hamstring position, it is a hamstring."

John Stones, only recently back from his own spell on the sidelines with a thigh injury, came on to provide a more conventional option at the heart of a defence still awaiting the return of Aymeric Laporte from knee surgery.

"It's the first season for Rodri, he's slotted in brilliantly in a new league, a different for him and he's breezed it," the England international told BT Sport.

"Credit to Fernandinho, he's helped him along. We work on playing different positions in training all the time, knowing everyone's jobs and the roles on the pitch, so you can almost play blind when you have the ball.

"It's been good to be back out on the pitch for me on a personal note, [but I'm] upset to see Rodri has a little injury. We'll see how it is."

Before kick-off, City announced they were waiting to discover how serious a knee injury suffered by left-back Oleksandr Zinchenko might prove to be.

Winger Leroy Sane is continuing his rehabilitation from cruciate ligament damage sustained during August's Community Shield clash with Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola admitted "the broadcasters are the bosses" in response to Manchester City's rearranged festive fixture list - but again called for players to receive greater protection amid punishing schedules.

City were initially set to travel to Wolves on Boxing Day but that game has been pushed back by 24 hours for live coverage, with the Sheffield United home game moved to December 29.

Still, they have less than 48 hours of rest between those two fixtures - with the reigning Premier League champions then starting 2020 by hosting Everton on January 1.

While a fan of playing during the Christmas period, a custom that he has become used to since moving to England, Guardiola fears the desire to squeeze in so many matches is a major concern.

He used the example of Neymar - who suffered a hamstring injury while playing for Brazil in a friendly against Nigeria last week, ruling him out for up to four weeks - as an example of the risks of playing too often.

Asked for his thoughts about City's fixture changes announced this week, Guardiola told the media: "It is what it is. Since I came here, every season it happened the same.

"The broadcasters are the bosses in this situation. I love to play Boxing Day and winter time when everybody stops, when families and kids go the stadiums and enjoy the games. I like it.

"The problem is the same. So now Neymar is injured again, but they travel for friendly games in Nigeria or Abu Dhabi, or wherever far away, then come back.

"We don't protect the players – the system doesn't protect them. It's too much. Honestly, it's too much."

Guardiola was speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace - a game that could see both Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones return from injury.

While stopping short of confirming the duo will be available to feature at Selhurst Park, the City boss was upbeat over their outlook.

"Some of them are better. Kevin is back and John trained in the last two days and is good," he said. "[Benjamin] Mendy as well, maybe later, but as well."

Sergio Aguero was involved in a minor car crash in midweek, but Guardiola had positive news on the striker's status: "He is fine. The car is not fine."

Manchester City's title defence has not started according to plan, with the champions already trailing Liverpool by eight points.

Jurgen Klopp's side have won eight from eight in the Premier League, while City headed into the international break on the back of a surprise home defeat to Wolves.

For Pep Guardiola, City's defence has to be a huge concern, even though the former Barcelona boss has insisted the club will not be looking to replace the injured Aymeric Laporte in January.

Laporte is set to miss the majority of the season after sustaining an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury in August, while Vincent Kompany has left a sizeable void in City's defence.

Nicolas Otamendi has been largely unconvincing, while John Stones has his own injury problems and Fernandinho – arguably the Premier League's best defensive midfielder – has had to fill in at the back.

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace, we use Opta data to assess how Guardiola can patch up City's struggling defence.

 

RELIANCE ON OTAMENDI A CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Guardiola has not been helped by a spate of bad luck with injuries, especially with Laporte, who has been mightily impressive since his arrival from Athletic Bilbao in January 2018.

Stones, meanwhile, has been in and out of the side due to both injuries and form, with Kompany preferred for the run-in last season. Otamendi looked set to join Kompany in leaving the club in the off season, though has been a mainstay of City's back line, making seven league appearances and two more in the Champions League. 

The Argentine does boast a passing accuracy of 92.52 per cent, which is higher than Fernandinho or Laporte, while he has also lost possession 148 times fewer than the Frenchman.

While Otamendi has only featured in 25 Premier League matches since the start of last season, he does have a higher tackle, duel and aerial duel success rate than Laporte and only conceded 16 fouls.

However, the former Valencia man showed clear weaknesses in the defeat to Wolves, recklessly lunging in on Raul Jimenez in the build-up to the opener, while it was his mistake at Carrow Road which led to Norwich City's third goal in a 3-2 win for the Canaries.

Of the players who have played at the back for City since the start of 2018-19, only Otamendi (2) has made errors which directly resulted in a goal.

KOMPANY'S IMPACT UNDERESTIMATED?

City reportedly moved for Harry Maguire in the off season, only to baulk at Leicester City's asking price, which was eventually paid by cross-city rivals Manchester United.

However, the decision not to replace inspirational former captain Kompany, who scored a stunning goal against Leicester as he led City to the title last term, seemed a risky one.

City did not lose a single game in all competitions last season in which Kompany started, with the Belgian having been named in 13 Premier League line ups.

Kompany played 1,223 minutes in the top flight last term, making no errors resulting in a shot at goal, while managing an impressive pass accuracy of 93.07% behind only Stones in terms of City's defenders.

The 33-year-old lost possession 93 times, though, perhaps due to a lack of pace, did concede 17 fouls – more than Otamendi or Stones despite playing fewer games.

He was dribbled past by an opponent on only one occasion and, from the 18 matches he started in all competitions last season, City claimed 17 wins, conceding just 12 goals.

SETTLE ON STONES UNTIL JANUARY

The simple answer to City's problems is likely to get Laporte back fit and firing as soon as possible, given they have an 82 per cent win percentage with the 25-year-old starting in the Premier League since the start of last season, compared to 75% without.

However, for now Guardiola must find a defensive pairing he can stick with until January. Fernandinho and Otamendi have featured in the last three league matches, but against Wolves their lack of pace was exposed.

Stones should soon return to action and, though the England international's form has been criticised, his statistics make for promising reading.

The former Everton man has a tackle success rate of 75%, higher than any of City's other centre-backs, and has conceded just six fouls since the start of 2018-19.

If Stones can stay fit, he should be City's first-choice centre-back until the new year, with Otamendi and Fernandinho vying for the other spot.

Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones have returned to training with Manchester City.

Influential midfielder De Bruyne started this season in superb form, racing to eight assists in the Premier League.

But a groin problem kept him out of City's past two matches, including a lacklustre 2-0 loss at home to Wolves last time out that left Pep Guardiola's men eight points shy of leaders Liverpool in England's top flight.

Stones has been out with a hamstring injury since mid-September – an absence that has been keenly felt after Aymeric Laporte underwent knee surgery.

It left Nicolas Otamendi as City's only specialist senior centre-back, with midfielder Fernandinho pressed into action alongside the Argentina defender in recent weeks.

Sergio Aguero was not selected alongside his compatriot Otamendi for games against Germany and Ecuador over the international break, with Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni claiming "he's been carrying a problem and has not been training 100 per cent with his club".

However, City's all-time record goalscorer took part in Monday's session alongside Stones and De Bruyne.

City resume their Premier League title defence at Crystal Palace on Saturday before looking to make it three wins out of three in the Champions League when they entertain Atalanta next Tuesday.

Kevin De Bruyne has been ruled out of Sunday's Premier League game against Wolves but Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola expects the playmaker and John Stones to return after the international break.

De Bruyne missed the Champions League defeat of Dinamo Zagreb in midweek with a groin injury sustained in City's previous game, a Premier League win against Everton.

Guardiola indicated after the Dinamo victory he was considering whether he could "risk" De Bruyne after City lost at Norwich City when the playmaker was named a substitute last month.

But, speaking ahead of Wolves' visit to the Etihad Stadium, Guardiola confirmed De Bruyne would not be available though he does not expect the midfielder to be out for long.

"Tomorrow he is not fit," Guardiola told reporters of De Bruyne, who is not in Belgium's squad.

"Sometimes he's not playing, one game at Norwich, sometimes substitute, when he feels good, he's good.

"After the international break he will be ready."

Stones has been out since mid-September, joining Aymeric Laporte on the sidelines and leaving City with Nicolas Otamendi as their only fit specialist senior centre-back after club captain Vincent Kompany's departure.

"Hopefully after the international break he'll be back," Guardiola added of the England international.

Fernandinho has filled in with Stones and Laporte both unavailable and Guardiola is not concerned about the 34-year-old's fitness levels.

"He didn't have many minutes in his legs before these games," Guardiola said. 

"Except the last part of last season he's played every three days over 11 months, I think he can do it."

Wolves have only beaten bottom side Watford in the Premier League this season but head to Manchester on the back of a last-gasp Europa League win at Turkish giants Besiktas on Thursday.

Balancing domestic and European commitments has proven difficult for Wolves but Guardiola backed Nuno Espirito Santo's side to get to grips with that challenge.

"Nuno knows how to handle it," Guardiola said. "Yesterday they made an incredible result, so solid, what I expected.

"I think they have a big squad and they know what they have to do. Three or four seasons together with the same manager and their structure in defence is really impressive."

Ilkay Gundogan welcomed the return to fitness of Benjamin Mendy as "a big boost" for Manchester City at a time when the club are without two key defenders.

Aymeric Laporte and John Stones missed City's 3-0 Champions League Group C victory over Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday with injuries and Pep Guardiola moved Fernandinho into central defence alongside Nicolas Otamendi.

Mendy came on as a second-half substitute to make his first appearance since City's Champions League quarter-final elimination to Tottenham in April and Gundogan highlighted the importance of his return.

"It was great to see Benjamin back and it is a big boost for us," Gundogan told the club's official website.

"Having him available again will be great for the team because we have missed him for the past five months and it's also good for him.

"His fitness will improve as he gets some more game time and last night was an important step forward for him.

"We have lost a number of players recently, so having an important member of the squad return is just what we needed.

"We are competing in so many competitions and every player has a part to play so I'm really happy to see him return."

Gundogan made his fourth start of the season against Shakhtar and put in an impressive performance as he played the full 90 minutes of the win.

After playing a role in Riyad Mahrez opening the scoring, Gundogan got City's second and spent the game pulling the strings alongside Kevin De Bruyne and Rodri in midfield.

He gave a modest assessment of his own performance while looking ahead to City's clash with Watford on Saturday, when they will hope to bounce back from a 3-2 defeat at Norwich City in their last Premier League outing.

"I'm happy but I know I can still improve," said Gundogan. "It was good to get a goal and also play the full 90 minutes because I think I needed that.

"It helps me, it helps the team and it helps everyone because we wanted to respond quickly.

"As you can imagine, the defeat at Norwich was very hard to take for us, that's why beating Shakhtar was even more important and we can take this win into Saturday's game against Watford which is already very close."

Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho says he felt fully prepared to play in defence against Shakhtar Donetsk after training as a centre-back all season.

The Premier League champions overcame fitness issues to commence their Champions League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory in Ukraine.

Aymeric Laporte and John Stones missed the match due to knee and muscle injuries respectively, forcing Fernandinho to shuffle backwards in a makeshift central-defensive partnership with Nicolas Otamendi.

The pair performed admirably at Metalist Stadium, recording a clean sheet to temporarily ease Pep Guardiola's headaches.

"It was easier at the back because we played as a team and the guys up front closed down the space," Fernandinho told BT Sport.

"I've been training in this position since the start of the season.

"Of course, Pep knows everything about our squad, our team and when he needs you. I think every player should be ready.

"Today was my time, my opportunity and I hope I can get better and improve a little bit more."

City expect to regain England international Stones, a starter in last weekend's Premier League loss to Norwich City, in around a month.

Laporte will not return until next year after damaging cartilage and the lateral meniscus in his right knee in the win over Brighton and Hove Albion on August 31.

Guardiola's men have five matches to battle through before the next international break and the City boss accepts it will be impossible for Otamendi, 31, and Fernandinho, 34, to play without rest.

"For one or two games it's okay, but for three or four months, I don't know what's going to happen," Guardiola said.

"Both were incredible [against Shakhtar]. Nico showed incredible personality. Maybe Kyle [Walker can play at centre-back], I don't know, but these two cannot play every three days.

"Fernandinho can play many positions with a good personality and that's why it's so important for us."

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.

Aymeric Laporte's long-term knee injury has hurt Manchester City, Pep Guardiola has conceded, but he does not expect the club to sign a replacement in January.

Guardiola confirmed on Friday that Laporte would be out for up to six months after he damaged cartilage and the lateral meniscus in his right knee during City's 4-0 win against Brighton and Hove Albion on August 31.

The centre-back, who received a long-awaited France call-up prior to his injury, has undergone surgery but like team-mate Leroy Sane is now set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

John Stones – who has not featured since the opening fixture – and Nicolas Otamendi are now City's only fit senior centre-backs, with midfielder Fernandinho seemingly set to provide a third option.

But despite City's lack of depth at the heart of their defence, Guardiola does not foresee the club pursuing a January signing.

"It is hard, the same as Leroy. We are disappointed for him, for both of them," Guardiola told a news conference ahead of Saturday's game against Norwich City.

"Leroy is important. Aymeric in that position is important too, for his left foot and his personality. Unfortunately he is injured. So we're going to live without him for a long time and we have enough resources to move forward and see what we can do.

"My advice to you is not to write too many names about the winter transfer window, because you are going to make a mistake. I don't think it's going to happen.

"I heard already we are interested in this player or the other player. I would like to say to all the clubs in the world don't be nervous, because we are not interested in any players or central defenders in Europe.

"We are going to wait with the players we have, with the two central defenders, with Fernandinho, with Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis, even some players in different positions we can use there. We're going to move forward."

Stones was not in England's latest squad as he continued his comeback from a thigh strain, while the 25-year-old was sidelined as Vincent Kompany was preferred as Laporte's partner in last term's run-in.

Guardiola, though, has no doubt in Stones' ability to fill the void left by Laporte.

"He's going to play incredible this period, while Laporte is not with us. He is going to play well. I don't have any doubts about his quality," Guardiola added of Stones.

"The same case with Otamendi. I don't know how many games they play together but I think a lot. Before Aymeric came they were a partnership and they played many games."

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