Pep Guardiola refused to blame England manager Gareth Southgate for John Stones’ injury absence from Manchester City’s Premier League title charge until the New Year.
Stones is expected to be out of action for up to six weeks after damaging a hamstring in City’s 2-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday, leaving Guardiola with some defensive concerns.
But the City manager did not point the finger at Southgate for playing the influential Stones for every minute of England’s two showpiece friendlies against Germany and Brazil during the international break.
“I understand Gareth Southgate. He’s preparing the team for the World Cup in Russia,” said Guardiola, whose side prevailed through goals from Gabriel Jesus and Kevin De Bruyne.
“We demand a lot in the calendar from the players. That is why we have to have a bigger squad.
“As managers, we have to take these decisions. I understand he’s taking the decisions for the country.”