The England defender was one of nine home players to retain a Premier League starting berth for Friday night’s heavyweight fourth-round clash, with the manager keeping changes to a minimum in an attempt to progress and deal with a potentially significant psychological blow. A big top-flight showdown between the respective title rivals next month.

In a lively affair at the Etihad Stadium, Stones were troubled by the direct runs and moves of Arsenal debutant Leandro Trossard, exposed on occasion by the lack of cover provided by teenage right-back Rico Lewis.

A tough night for the 28-year-old came shortly before half-time, when he suffered a right hamstring injury during another tussle with Trossard near the byline.

Stones received treatment but it soon became clear that he could not continue, limping off to be replaced by American Laporte, who was replaced in the starting lineup by eventual match-winner Nathan Ake.

Stones now looks set for another spell after his latest injury, with City facing a crucial month which starts with a trip to Tottenham and includes that huge meeting with Arsenal on February 15 and the final first leg of the Champions League. -16 draw with Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig.

“I don’t know (how serious it is),” Guardiola said when asked for an update on Stones’ condition after Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to Arsenal ended Ake’s fine second half. “He wasn’t ready today. I saw it from the first minute.

“Maybe he was tired but he wasn’t ready and when that happens you’re injured.”


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