Pep Guardiola says Manchester City 'do not have many choices' in defence
Man City beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 in their opening Champions League game
Last Updated: 19/09/19 8:07am
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."
Sky Sports' Adam Bate:
"Fernandinho is not Aymeric Laporte, nor is he Vincent Kompany, but he does have the leadership qualities of the latter. His display in City's routine 3-0 win over Shakhtar suggested that he also shares Kompany's ability to step in after a time in the shadows and make it look easy. This was his first start in five months but he looked comfortable throughout in Kharkiv.
"His distribution was impeccable, misplacing only one pass throughout the first half and that was an ambitious lofted ball over the top that almost succeeded in playing in Raheem Sterling. His best pass of the match was an excellent raking ball to Riyad Mahrez that showcased the distribution skills that he can bring to this team even from within the back-line.
"Defensively, his only concerns were caused by his own team-mates rather than anything that the opposition did. When Moraes cut inside Kyle Walker, Fernandinho was able to do enough to put the striker off his shot. When the same player darted in behind early in the second half, he had him covered until Ederson caused confusion by rushing off his line."