Manchester City facing centre-back crisis ahead of West Ham trip as Laporte and Fernandinho join injured list
City pair John Stones and Ruben Dias had already been ruled out for the season with hamstring problems before Pep Guardiola watched both Aymeric Laporte and club captain Fernandinho - who had been deputising in the backline - limp off in last night’s victory over Wolves.
“Apparently it doesn’t look good,” Guardiola said after full-time in the 5-1 rout at Molineux. “It is some muscular problems for Fernandinho, so it will be difficult for Sunday. Aymeric had a tough knock in his knee and it will be difficult for Sunday.”
It leaves Nathan Ake as City’s only fit senior centre-half, and the Dutchman has himself only just returned from an ankle problem, replacing Laporte in last night’s clash after the Frenchman had initially tried to play on.
Kyle Walker, who would be another candidate to fill in given his experience in a back three with England, also won’t play again this season, meaning Spanish midfielder Rodri will likely drop into defence for the trip to the Hammers.
There will be little sympathy on offer from David Moyes, who has had to deal with his own defensive injury crisis in recent weeks, briefly left with Craig Dawson as his only fit centre-back before Kurt Zouma’s surprise early return, while Issa Diop is also now back in contention.
West Ham are currently three points off sixth-placed Manchester United with a game in hand and a significantly better goal difference, meaning an upset victory over Guardiola’s side would leave them in pole position to secure the second Europa League spot heading into the final day of the campaign.
City, meanwhile, know that victory would all-but secure the title after they moved three points clear of Liverpool and significantly improved their goal difference advantage over the Reds, thanks in large part to Kevin De Bruyne’s four-goal masterclass as the Belgian tore Wolves apart.
“He has become prolific with the goals this season,” Guardiola said. “He has been decisive. Maybe this is the greatest year.
“We spoke over the years about being closer to the box, to score and this season is the year he has done better. I’ve got the feeling he has started enjoying scoring goals, before it was just assists.”