With Aymeric Laporte sidelined for the rest of 2019, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has had to do some thinking over the international break.
The brilliant French defender suffered a serious knee injury against Brighton and has undergone surgery after it transpired he’d damaged his cartilage and lateral meniscus (official website).
It’s a major blow for City, but there could be some ways around the problem. Given the way the team coped without the irrepressible Kevin De Bruyne last year, City could easily come through unscathed.
John Stones is reportedly fit and available for selection again after struggling with a thigh strain (Metro), which is timely for the Citizens.
He would be the obvious replacement for Laporte as a natural centre-half, but could Guardiola be about to throw everyone a curve ball?
With Stones injured against Brighton, Fernandinho was the man to replace Laporte from off the bench.
The Brazilian has played the position on occasion, but perhaps he could actually get the nod as a regular ahead of Stones going forwards.
At Barcelona, Guardiola enjoyed great success after converting Javier Mascherano into a centre-back. Given Fernandinho is similar in stature to the Argentine, it is certainly not out of the question.
Guardiola also often used holding midfielder Javi Martinez in central defence during his time as Bayern Munich boss.
The Spanish tactician adores his 34-year-old lynchpin and one gets the feeling he’d jump at the chance to get him back into the starting XI, with his usual position currently occupied by new signing Rodri.