How will Manchester City cover the absence of John Stones? The defender was substituted at half-time of City’s midweek win over Young Boys. Pep Guardiola revealed post-game that the England international has suffered another injury setback. It is a blow for the treble winners with Stones a crucial cog in Pep Guardiola’s machine.
Covering the loss of John Stones isn’t as simple as replacing him with another defender. The role he is required to play is one in which Stones game is suited. His ability to slot into midfield when City has possession coupled with his range of passing makes finding a replacement a difficult task. The defender also drifts forward on occasions to support City’s attacks making him an invaluable weapon for Pep Guardiola.
How Manchester City fill the John Stones role is something to watch for. There is no shortage of midfield options who can slot in and play alongside Rodri. Mateo Kovacic showed he can slot into midfield alongside City’s midfield general earlier this season. Matheus Nunes is another player who is eager to impress and can drift forward when City attack.
Defensively Manchester City have options to step in for the injured defender. Manuel Akanji has filled the Stones role on occasions this season with varying degrees of success. Akanji does possess the versatility required to slot into the Stones position, but his passing game isn’t on the same level as the England international.
One player who could slot straight into John Stones position is Josko Gvardiol. The Croatian defender has the technical ability to play in a similar manner to the injured defender. The only question with Gvardiol is whether has he been at City long enough to fully grasp Pep Guardiola’s demands.
Covering the absence of Stones isn’t an easy task for Pep Guardiola. He is arguably just as important as Rodri to the way the European champions play. If City can cover his absence it will hold them in good fashion for a tough run of fixtures.