Guardiola Given Injury Boost Ahead of Man City Title Decider Against Aston Villa as Stones & Walker Return
The England duo have resumed training ahead of their Premier League match against Steven Gerrard’s side on Sunday. The return of John Stones and Kyle Walker to training has given Manchester City a big boost ahead of their last game of the season.
After suffering injuries while playing in the Champions League, Pep Guardiola has ruled the England duo out for the remainder of the season. City have had a crisis in recent weeks, with Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake both missing from the heart of the defense due to injuries.
City face Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa on Sunday needing a victory to be certain of clinching their fourth Premier League title in five years. Veteran midfielder Fernandinho has had to deputise alongside Aymeric Laporte in the centre of defence, with Oleksandr Zinchenko playing at left-back. But they were less than convincing in the draw with West Ham, when City had to fight back from two goals down to rescue a point, with the return of Stones and Walker coming at the perfect time.
Walker limped out of the second leg defeat to Real Madrid on May 4 but had not given up hope of playing again despite Guardiola insisting his season was over. “I wouldn’t say [my ankle’s] perfect, obviously it’s had two very bad injuries in two games but I’m hoping,” the 31-year-old told Radio 5live before the draw at West Ham. “I’ve still got hope until the end of the season, until that whistle goes in 90 minutes at the Etihad against Aston Villa, that’s when I’ll say my season is over and have a little bit of a rest. “Well, a week hopefully before I join up with England but I’ve still got hope for tomorrow, I’ve still got hope for next week, as I say, until the season’s done I’ll [not] be done.” Stones, meanwhile, has not played since straining a hamstring injury in the first leg against Real Madrid on April 26. The centre-back has had muscle injuries in the past but it was hoped that the latest setback would not be as severe. His return would be the biggest boost as City have not lost this season when he and Laporte have been the central defensive pair. Guardiola is due to speak in a press conference on May 20, where he will likely provide an update on the England duo and whether they will be able to play or not.