Manchester City defender John Stones has been ruled out of Saturday’s Premier League derby against Manchester United at Old Trafford, manager Pep Guardiola has said.
The in-form England international missed the midweek Carabao Cup loss at Southampton with a fitness issue and is not ready to feature this weekend.
“He is not ready,” said Guardiola at a press conference after confirming it was a “joke” when he spoke about “ridiculous” plans for the derby clash.
City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan suggested the team had been lacking desire after the unexpected defeat to the Premier League’s bottom side at St Mary’s on Wednesday.
Guardiola admitted this could be a natural consequence of their success of recent years.
He said: “What happened didn’t surprise me. We tried to avoid it, and hopefully it is not going to happen again, but it happened because we won four Premier Leagues in five years.
“After back-to-back two times, this can happen. We were not ready to go there. I was concerned it could happen and unfortunately it did. I don’t know if will happen again but I am not concerned.
“There are many games to play, of course it’s a big week we cannot deny it. We play Spurs.
“After Southampton I’m not worried about the titles, it’s to recover who are are game by game. This is what we have to do. It’s normal after the results of previous seasons but we have to change it immediately.”
City thrashed their neighbours 6-3 when the sides last met in October but United have lost just one of 18 games since.
Guardiola thinks United have improved “a lot”.
He added: “The improvement is clear – not just in results. I have the feeling every time (we play them) at Old Trafford or the Etihad it’s been a difficult game.
“They are always attractive games. There are a lot of quality players on both sides. It will be a good game.
“It’s Man United. With Ole they were close. What happens in the previous seasons, I don’t know what happens.
“It’s normal United are there. Still there, fighting. Nobody said they would be there, they are there because they have to be. It doesn’t surprise me. It’s why this competition is so difficult.
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