Pep Guardiola confirms John Stones and Kyle Walker blow ahead of Man City vs Arsenal

Manchester City will be without Kyle Walker and John Stones for their crucial clash against Arsenal as the champions were hit with a double injury blow to leave both in a race against time to be fit to face Real Madrid.

Pep Guardiola expects his captain Walker to be sidelined for longer than Stones after each was hurt playing for England, but is waiting to discover how long each will spend on the sidelines.

But Manuel Akanji, who missed training on Thursday, should be fit to take one of the spots in defence and Ederson is set to return in goal after suffering a thigh injury in the draw against Liverpool.

“Kyle and John are out,” said Guardiola. “It is what it is. [The injury for] Kyle tougher than John but I don’t know how many games.”

Walker has had scans on his thigh injury while Stones has an abductor problem and City are yet to discover if they will be fit when they face Aston Villa on Wednesday, in another game against a team who have already beaten them this season, or Real Madrid at the Bernabeu the following week.

But Kevin De Bruyne, who sat out the FA Cup win over Newcastle and Belgium’s internationals against the Republic of Ireland and England, should be available.

The City vice-captain had a starring role in both league wins over Arsenal last season, scoring three goals, and Guardiola said: “Kevin is such an important player. It has been a tough season for him with injuries, being out for a long time. He trained really well yesterday so we will see what we’re going to do in the next days.”

Stones started both games for England despite recently returning from injury (Getty Images)
Stones started both games for England despite recently returning from injury (Getty Images)

Jack Grealish, who has not played for a month, is also back in contention after what Guardiola admits has been a difficult campaign.

He added: “His season was not perfect for him but he still trained really well. It’s been a long time since he played but it’s a decision we will take tomorrow but you have to see the calendar that we have. If we want to fight in all competitions we need all the players. We have enough and the calendar doesn’t look good for us but it is what it is.”

Guardiola said he is unsure how, without Walker and Stones and after two weeks without a game, his team will perform against Arsenal.

He explained: “We played really good the last month but the international break, the first game after is always... you think, what will happen?”