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Manchester City duo absent from pre-Arsenal training as Pep Guardiola’s squad returns



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Pep Guardiola has been without two of his first-team stars in their first training session back after the international break, it has been confirmed on Thursday.

Manchester City return to domestic action on Sunday afternoon with the visit of Premier League title rivals Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium, following a two-week break allocated for several international friendlies.

Up to 16 first-team stars were called up from Guardiola’s squad for international commitments, while the remainder of the squad were permitted some days rest as well as continued rehabilitation and training in the north-west.

While Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish are both understood to have made significant progress in their respective recoveries, Pep Guardiola has seen his squad hit by a number of fitness concerns, largely in defensive areas.

As reported by Sky Sports News, present at the City Football Academy training facility on Thursday afternoon, Pep Guardiola got his training routines underway ahead of the visit with Arsenal without two members of his defensive set-up.

England international duo Kyle Walker and John Stones were both absent from training as medical staff continue to monitor and ascertain the extent of their respective injury problems sustained with the Three Lions over the past fortnight.

Walker sustained a concerning hamstring problem in England’s 0-1 defeat to Brazil whilst clearing an effort off the goal-line, and while there is hope the club captain could return for the Champions League meeting with Real Madrid, this weekend could come too soon.

As for John Stones, Manchester City’s versatile central defender was withdrawn from duties inside the opening 10 minutes of a 2-2 draw with Belgium on Tuesday, with manager Gareth Southgate later revealing an issue concerning his adductor.

The full extent of both players’ issues is yet to be understood, although Pep Guardiola could offer further details when he faces the media in his pre-Arsenal press conference on Friday afternoon.