Manchester City have received a big blow with the news that defender John Stones is set to miss up to five weeks with a muscular injury.
The 25-year-old England international suffered the injury in training today before City take on Shakhtar Donetsk in their opening Champions League group stage tie tomorrow evening.
Stones came in for criticism after his side's 3-2 defeat to to Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday evening, but his absence will leave manager Pep Guardiola with a deepening defensive crisis.
Aymeric Laporte is out for the club long-term, and will only return next year from a knee ligament injury. Nicolas Otamendi now the only remaining fit centre-half.
England star Phil Foden is also not fit for City with a virus and has not travelled for their opening European group game tomorrow evening.
Guardiola confirmed the news in his pre-match press conference ahead of the match at the Metalist Stadium.
PEP: @PhilFoden is a virus problem with his stomach and not able for this game, I think (he will be back) for the next one.
John Stones got injured this morning. The Problem is muscular... 4-5 weeks.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 17, 2019
"Injured this morning," Guardiola said, regarding Stones. "A month, four or five weeks, six weeks. [It is] a muscular problem."
The Spaniard also confirmed that midfielder Fernandinho was likely to slot into the middle of his defence, and said there's no use in complaining about their current predicament.
"It's a big challenge. For me as a manager, it's an incredible challenge, with just one central defender, but I believe a lot.
"Something people don't know is the spirit, commitment. Everybody makes a step forward to solve the problem. With 'dinho, [Eric] Garcia and Taylor [Hartwood-Bellis], we will go for the next month.
"What we''re not going to do is complain. We have to make 11 players on the pitch, extra effort."
City host Watford in the Premier League this Saturday afternoon, and they also play Everton away, Wolves at home and Crystal Palace away in the period Stones is expected to be absent for.