Saturday, 29 February 2020

Aymeric Laporte out for up to a month- Pep Guardiola

Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte

Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte is expected to be out of action for up to a month with a hamstring injury, says manager Pep Guardiola.

Laporte, 25, was forced off in the first half of Wednesday's Champions League win at Real Madrid - having made just eight appearances this season.

"He has a hamstring injury. Three weeks out more or less - a month," Guardiola said on Friday.

"Unfortunately this happens after four or five months out."

Laporte returned in City's 1-0 Premier League victory over Sheffield United in January, following surgery on a knee injury in August 2019.

After that match, Guardiola said his return may have been "a risk", but described the Frenchman as the "best left-sided central defender in the world".

Laporte, making his fourth appearance since his comeback, was replaced by Fernandinho after 33 minutes in Madrid.

"Life is not easy and always in the world the people who survive are the ones who cope with the bad moments," Guardiola added.

"It is what it is. Accept it, work hard to come back as soon as possible."

There was more positive news on winger Leroy Sane, who has been out with a knee injury since the Community Shield in August, as Guardiola confirmed the 24-year-old Germany international will feature for City's under-23s against Arsenal on Friday.

"I don't want to put targets on him. We want him to play the game then speak with him [about] how he felt."

City face Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley on Sunday (16:30 GMT kick-off).
Guardiola admits to unusual season

Guardiola said the final represented "an incredible challenge" to win six successive domestic titles, including two Community Shields.

City won the Community Shield last season before a domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup, and won the Community Shield again at the start of this term.

Though this season's Premier League title is seemingly out of reach, his side are on course for a cup treble this campaign. After Sunday's showpiece, City travel to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday and they lead 2-1 going into the home second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Madrid on 17 March.

"It's a big opportunity to do something special for our club," added Guardiola.

"Hopefully the mentality will be the same for the players - to be starving and hungry for the club and ourselves to win to another one."

The Spaniard also admitted this season had been a "little bit unique" after various off-pitch issues and said advice from former Barcelona manager Johan Cruyff had proven true.

City are appealing against a two-year ban from European football given to them by Uefa for "serious breaches" of club licensing and Financial Fair Play regulations, while they remain under separate investigations into their finances and transfer dealings by Fifa, the FA and the Premier League.

In addition, there has been speculation about a break clause in Guardiola's contract, which runs until the end of next season, and claims his emails were hacked in 2017.

"Cruyff told me once that the problem with big clubs is that 70% of it is issues off the pitch and just 30% on the pitch," added the former Barca and Bayern Munich boss.

"Again he was right. We have to handle it as best as possible, be helpful to the club, focus on what we love and believe in what we can do on the pitch."

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