Aymeric Laporte injury: Guardiola left with central defensive headache

Aymeric Laporte was forced off the pitch with what appeared to be a serious knee injury during Manchester City’s 4-0 victory against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon.

The 25-year-old collided with Brighton defender Adam Webster whilst attempting to stop a counter attack in the 34th minute at the Etihad Stadium.

Laporte, who is uncapped on the international stage, had just been called up to Didier Deschamps’ France squad for the first time ahead of their upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Albania and Andorra.

It is thought that the defender could be out of action for a significant period, although the extent of his injury is yet to be revealed. 

A long-term absence for Laporte – who Guardiola recently hailed as the best left-sided central defender in Europe – could have a significant impact on Manchester City’s season, with the defender playing a key role for his side since signing in January 2018. 

The injury adds the Frenchman to a growing list of absentees within the City squad, with fellow defender John Stones, Gabriel Jesus, Benjamin Mendy and Leroy Sane all currently sidelined. 

Stones, 25, has missed City’s previous two matches after suffering a thigh injury and was not selected in Gareth Southgate’s upcoming England squad.

That leaves Nicolas Otamendi as the only recognised centre-back currently fully-fit in Pep Guardiola’s squad.

The summer departure of former captain Vincent Kompany, who re-joined boyhood club Anderlecht in July, could come back to haunt City’s hierarchy having decided against securing a replacement during the summer transfer window.

However, Guardiola claims that City could not afford to sign a new central defender in the summer.

Guardiola said: “We could not buy like opponents or teams offer us or ask for players.

“Of course we spent a lot two seasons ago, but last season one player, this season a little bit more, so we could not pay the money wanted.

“But we have an alternative and sometimes when that [an injury like Laporte’s] happens, the team unites better and we are going to find solutions to do that.”

John Stones could be in contention to return to City’s squad following the international break, while Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho  who replaced Laporte during Saturday’s win  is said to be a further option at centre-half. 

Guardiola added that Kyle Walker could also be utilised centrally, along with academy graduates Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis, despite neither of the youthful pair having appeared in the Premier League. 

Manchester City return to Premier League action after the international break with a trip to newly-promoted Norwich City on September 14.

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