Pep Guardiola has said he will use youngsters Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis in the midst of Man City’s centre-back crisis.
John Stones’ injury in training means that City’s only fit, first-team centre-back is the divisive Nicolas Otamendi. However, Guardiola insists that he isn’t concerned.
Who are Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis? Five things to know…
- 18-year-old Garcia has made three EFL appearances for City…
- …but no other competitive appearances for Guardiola’s side.
- Harwood-Bellis is just 17 years-old…
- …and has never made a senior, competitive appearance.
- He reportedly left team-mates “blown away” during their pre-season tour of Asia.
Guardiola told the press before City’s Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk that John Stones injured a muscle passing a ball in training, leaving the Spaniard short on defenders. Along with Fernandinho, the two youngsters were identified as potential options to fill the gaps.
The City boss said: “Sometimes for tactical reasons he [Fernandinho] played there last season and now with him, Taylor Bellis, Eric and Nico, we are going to play them in that position. It’s not a problem, it is a challenge; they will do it, no problem.
“My players are the best – we will work out with the players we have how to create something. That’s what it is.
“We will go with them for the next few months. It is what it is; sometimes these situations happen. It has happened and what we are not going to do is complain.”
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A new role of the same importance for Fernandinho
Last season, Fernandinho was an absolutely critical player for Guardiola. As the only designated holding midfielder, it became painfully apparent that City simply couldn’t function at full capacity without him.
City may have signed Rodri in the summer to rectify this but will now have to rely on Fernandinho to do a job for them in the heart of the defence.
Vincent Kompany has left and Aymeric Laporte is out until January, meaning Fernandinho has now been thrust into the team at centre-back.
This isn’t the first time Pep has moved a midfielder into the defence. Javier Mascherano made his name as a defensive midfielder before he was relocated alongside Pique, where he thrived.
Fernandinho already has experience (albeit limited) in the heart of the defence. Pep will be hoping he can ‘do a Mascherano’.