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Pep Guardiola sends cryptic message to Gareth Southgate following John Stones workload concerns



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has issued a subtle response to England manager Gareth Southgate’s recent comments.

The England manager saw Manchester City defensive duo Kyle Walker and John Stones both suffer muscular injuries during recent international friendlies at Wembley Stadium, with Walker forced off against Brazil and Stones during Tuesday’s draw with Belgium.

City face a crucial Premier League clash with Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the first of 10 matches across three competitions for Pep Guardiola’s side before the end of April.

The Sky Blues continue their quest to retain last season’s historic treble, with matches across the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and Emirates FA Cup all scheduled.

However, Guardiola could be without both Walker and Stones for a number of upcoming games, with a Champions League quarter-final clash with Real Madrid on the horizon, following quick-fire Premier League matches against Arsenal, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

Stones’ campaign has been hampered by a series of injury issues, with Manchester City having been continually managing the workload of the 29-year-old, after a number of setbacks.

England manager Gareth Southgate’s decision to start Stones in back-to-back friendlies was therefore blasted, after the centre-back suffered an abductor problem in midweek.

Southgate defended his decision to start Stones on Tuesday night, however Guardiola was visibly frustrated by the injury news, as he said, “I haven’t got any comments about that” during his pre-match press conference.

Stones was one of several injury blows to the Manchester City first-team squad during the international break, as Manuel Akanji and Matheus Nunes also suffered problems.

Additionally, Ederson, Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish all missed international duty due to injuries, but could return against the Gunners this weekend.

Stones underwent scans at the City Football Academy on Thursday upon returning from international duty, although a timeframe for the defender’s recovery is yet to be set.