Wed, 23 Oct 2019

Cape Town - Pep Guardiola is backing Fernandinho to step up to the plate as Manchester City's injury problems in central defence go from bad to worse.

City head into Wednesday night's Champions League opener against Shakhtar Donetsk with just one fit central defender after it was confirmed that John Stones is facing up to six weeks on the side-lines through injury.

City had already been rocked by the news that Aymeric Laporte is on the side-lines until the new year with a knee injury, meaning Nicolas Otamendi is the only fit centre-half at the club.

Deep down Guardiola will be regretting not bringing in another central defender while the summer transfer window was open, but he has every faith in Fernandinho.

The Brazilian is a top-class player but has played most of his football in central midfield. That does not concern Guardiola too much, and he has back the player to do a good job filling the void.

"He will do well because my players are well," Guardiola said. "We will create something, it is what it is."

City will also be missing Phil Foden as the youngster has a stomach bug, but apart from that, Guardiola has a full squad to select from.

Guardiola also believes that City are capable of dealing with difficult situations as they go in search of the one trophy that has so far eluded them - the UEFA Champions League.

"Football is not how you handle good situations, but how you handle bad ones," he added.

"We won seven titles, and no-one gave us anything, we did it ourselves.

"As a manager, it's an incredible challenge with just one central defender, and I like to prove myself."

City beat Shakhtar 3-0 in Ukraine last season but have come unstuck against them in the past and will have to be on their guard again on Wednesday night.

Kick-off is at 21:00 (SA time).

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