Last Updated: 19/09/19 7:11am
Pep Guardiola says Manchester City “don’t have many choices” in defence after he was forced to field midfielder Fernandinho as a makeshift centre-back.
The 34-year-old Brazilian was deployed alongside City’s only fit senior central defender, Nicolas Otamendi, in Wednesday’s 3-0 Champions League win at Shakhtar Donetsk.
John Stones is out for five weeks due to a muscle injury and Aymeric Laporte is recovering from knee surgery, but Guardiola says midfielder Fernandinho has the personality and experience to solve their injury crisis.
“I didn’t have doubts that he would [look comfortable in the back four]. That’s why he’s so important for us,” Guardiola said, after handing Fernandinho the additional responsibility of captaincy in his first start of the season.
“We don’t have many choices… he’s the only one I have. Other players can play in that position but Fernandinho is a clever player, so intelligent – an incredible guy.
“He has a lot of experience and personality and what he says the people follow him in the locker room so it’s important.”
Fernandinho, who made two interceptions and had a passing accuracy of 90 per cent against Shakhtar, added: “I’ve been training in this position since the start of the season.
“Today was my opportunity, I hope I can improve. It was a quiet night at the back but the team have made a very good game… because we played as a team.”