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Pep Guardiola reveals Manchester City fitness blow ahead of Arsenal clash



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Manchester City will be without the presence of John Stones at Arsenal this weekend, despite the England international’s return to first-team training this week.

The 29-year-old travelled with the Manchester City squad to Leipzig in midweek for their UEFA Champions League clash against Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, but remained unused from the substitutes bench.

City moved three points clear at the top of their Champions League group following a 1-3 away victory at the Red Bull Arena, with second-half strikes from Julian Alvarez and Jeremy Doku ensuring that an equaliser from Lois Openda did not prove detrimental to the outcome of the contest.

John Stones then participated in first-team training activities both on and off the pitch following Manchester City’s return to the City Football Academy on Thursday, however a fresh update has indicated his availability for Sunday’s mammoth Premier League clash.

Pep Guardiola and his players travel to North London to take on Arsenal in the English top-flight, knowing that a win would ensure their place as the league leaders heading into the second international break of the ongoing season.

Speaking during his pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon, Pep Guardiola was asked to provide an update on John Stones’ availability, after the central defender returned to full first-team training earlier in the week.

“No, (John) Stones is not ready to play. Maybe for (the England) national team, but not for us,” Pep Guardiola responded.

John Stones has not featured for Manchester City in several weeks, with his last minutes for the club coming back in August during the FA Community Shield defeat against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium.

Bernardo Silva will however be available for Manchester City following his recent period of time out through injury, after the Portugal international made his return to action in Germany on Wednesday night.

Kevin De Bruyne remains ruled out for the Premier League champions, and is not expected back until early 2024, after the Belgium international captain underwent surgery on a hamstring problem back in August.

Rico Lewis could be an option considered by Pep Guardiola in the centre of the park this weekend, after the teenager put in an exemplary performance in the Champions League alongside Rodri, while also operating in a more advanced midfield role.

Rodri however will return to being unavailable for City as he serves the final game in a three-match domestic football suspension, with manager Pep Guardiola revealing that the Spanish international is now already away from the Club on holiday.