John Stones and Kyle Walker provide huge fitness boost ahead of Premier League finale
Manchester City defensive duo John Stones and Kyle Walker have been pictured taking part in training this afternoon ahead of the must-win Premier League final day clash against Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium, with Pep Guardiola's men looking to make it four league titles in five years.
The Blues have suffered a defensive crisis in recent weeks with Stones, Walker, and Ruben Dias sidelined due to various issues – resulting in Fernandinho having to step into the role at a crucial time and Oleksandr Zinchenko having to almost come out of the cold during the most intense part of the season.
Aymeric Laporte has had to take the leadership mantle in the defence, and singlehandedly kept the side in control of their Premier League destiny when he made a crucial block from a point-blank Jarrod Bowen effort, which would have completed his hattrick and given City too much to do by way of a comeback.
Fernandinho and Zinchenko struggled to contain Michail Antonio and Bowen, respectively, last Sunday – and it is fair to say fans were concerned about the prospect of Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings running at the 37-year-old Blues captain in this weekend's must-win against Steven Gerrard's Villa side.
With Guardiola ruling Walker, Stones, and Dias out for the remainder of the campaign after the home win against Newcastle, calls were for Nathan Ake, who has been suffering injury problems of his own in recent weeks, to start alongside Laporte in central defence.
However, the Catalan's options have been bolstered after the club's English defensive duo were pictured partaking in first-team training this morning – which will provide a massive boost in the club's pursuit of back-to-back league titles for the second time under Guardiola.
Stones last featured at right-back against Real Madrid at home and did well to keep Vinicius Junior quiet before having to be taken off at half-time with what seemed to be a muscular issue first sustained against Brighton six or so days prior.
Walker suffered an ankle injury away against Atletico Madrid and would not feature again until the Real Madrid second leg, where he would also keep Vinicius Junior quiet until he had to be taken off following a tough challenge mid-way through the second half.
The return of the two right-sided defensive pillars to training provides much needed defensive relief for the Blues as they look to close out the season with another Premier League title.
Written by: @NA1907_
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