Manchester City trio Aymeric Laporte, John Stones, and Rodri have been pictured by club photographers in first-team training as Pep Guardiola's side gear up for a visit to Stamford Bridge for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.
In a major boost to Guardiola's plans ahead of three huge ties against Chelsea, PSG, and Liverpool, the Catalan's two best ball-playing central defenders look set to play at least some part over the next two weeks after being pictured in training along with teammates this afternoon.
Following the 0-0 draw with Southampton, Guardiola highlighted issues with the side's buildup play saying 'the reason [for not winning] is the process, the back four and Fernandinho have to bring the ball to the other guys but today it was not good'.
Missing two elite ball-playing central defenders along with Rodri was obviously a massive contributing factor to this given Southampton's brilliant pressing and shape, but that's not to say Ruben Dias and particularly Nathan Ake aren't good at it, or they can't do it – they're just not as naturally gifted at breaking the lines and advancing with the ball as the other two centre-backs.
Rodri's return will mean Guardiola will not have to rely on Fernandinho's 36-year-old legs or Ilkay Gundogan filling in at holding midfield for a prolonged period of time in the three crunch games before the international break – but in fairness, it did not seem like the Spaniard would be missing for too long anyway, with nothing suggesting that the 25-year-old's injury was that serious.
Yesterday, we covered reports from Mike McGrath, who has earned himself an immense reputation over the years with reliable and accurate reporting regarding the club. The Telegraph journalist tweeted that Stones and Laporte were facing two weeks out with their injuries, which would rule them out of the ties against Chelsea, PSG, and Liverpool.
However, given two have been pictured in training today, it's likely they will play at least some part – but it does remain to be seen how far along the defenders are on their road to recovery and whether they'll be ready for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off, or any of the three games for that matter. Guardiola is likely to be asked about that during his press conference tomorrow afternoon.
It's important to stress that McGrath's reputation should not change due to one (potentially) inaccurate report – the journalist's track record over the years has been immense, with stories about Guardiola extending his contract, Fernandinho signing a new deal, and John Stones landing a new deal just to name a few.
Stones and Laporte have missed games against Leipzig, Southampton, and Wycombe due to problems sustained on international duty, while Rodri has missed the latter two games with a muscular issue.
Ilkay Gundogan, who was added to the injury list by Guardiola following the Southampton game, and Oleksandr Zinchenko, could not be seen in any of the pictures published by the club this afternoon.
Photos courtesy of Manchester City
Written by: @NA1907_
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