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Pep Guardiola issues additional John Stones fitness setback despite return against Liverpool



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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has warned that John Stones is unlikely to return to on-field match action for the Premier League champions for up to another fortnight.

The England international centre-back suffered yet another fitness setback prior to the most recent international break, having been withdrawn during the half-time interval of City’s 3-0 UEFA Champions League win over BSC Young Boys.

It was later revealed that Stones had sustained another problem in his hamstring, after an earlier issue ruled him out from the UEFA Super Cup clash with Sevilla back in August through until October.

However, the Englishman made a somewhat surprising return to Manchester City’s matchday squad on Saturday afternoon, featuring among the Treble winners’ substitutes for the top-of-the-table showdown with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Speaking to the media during his post-match press conference following City’s end-to-end 1-1 draw against Liverpool on Saturday afternoon, Pep Guardiola warned that while John Stones made his return to the matchday squad, on-field action could yet be delayed.

“He feels good, but we’re going to give him I would say one week, two weeks for doing a proper strength training sessions,” Guardiola stated. “Because John (Stones), when he’s injured, after he’s so important for me, for us.”

The Manchester City manager continued, “I let him play and maybe his muscles are not completely ready.

“So he’s going to train with us, partial or complete, and the rest he’s going to make three or four proper strength training sessions in his legs especially to be sure when he comes back he feels a little bit stronger, and use him. We need him, because there’s a lot of games.”

Guardiola was further pressed for answers around the general fitness of his Manchester City squad, following an international break that saw up to nine players ruled out at once with respective fitness problems.

“Yeah, we need them, of course,” the Catalan coach admitted. “John a little bit longer, Mateo (Kovacic) I think is not a big, big issue but still he is out a little bit, but Sergio (Gomez) is back. Yeah, it is what it is. We had two goalkeepers today in there (on the bench against Liverpool), but it’s fine.”

Manchester City’s fixtures loom thick and fast across the course of the coming weeks, with the next few days bringing a UEFA Champions League clash with RB Leipzig and Premier League face-off with Tottenham both at the Etihad Stadium.