Eric Garcia has been ruled out for up to three weeks and will miss the Manchester derby, Pep Guardiola has confirmed.
The Manchester City defender – linked with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Arsenal after rejecting a new deal – was replaced by John Stones in the second half of Wednesday’s Champions League win over Marseille.
Garcia has been ruled out of action with an unspecified leg injury, but City boss Guardiola reported that midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who was taken off at half-time in the same game due to an ankle knock, has looked good in training.
“Eric Garcia is not fit and he will be out for two or three weeks,” said Guardiola, who had previously confirmed Sergio Aguero would not start Saturday’s derby at Old Trafford.
“Ilkay Gundogan trained good.”
As supporters return to Premier League matches in other parts of England, this will be the first Manchester derby played without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Guardiola added: “Of course being at Old Trafford the stadium is much better playing with fans but the virus is still here.
“When we open the stadiums step by step as has already happened in some areas of England, the Premier League and government and scientists will decide when we can make the next step.
“When everything is settled the fans will be back [but] of course they are [still with us].
“Our fans always were and [it is the same at] every club in England. The supporters are so loyal and on social media today everyone has opinions. The club have to take the decisions they have to take.”
Pep’s focus turns to the Premier
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 11, 2020
City appear to have turned the corner having moved up to seventh in the table going into the latest round of fixtures, just six points behind early leaders Tottenham with a game in hand.
They have won their last two Premier League games by an aggregate score of 7-0, scoring as many goals as they had netted in their previous seven top-flight games combined.
The Manchester United game also gives Guardiola’s men a chance to keep three consecutive league clean sheets for the first time since a run of four in April and May 2019.
Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola acknowledged there is strong morale in his camp.
“In football you have to show again but all the mood and the environment of the backroom staff and players is exceptional,” he said.
“This season, with no preparations and COVID, the players have all responded incredibly well. No complaints.
“It is not a knockout game, it is three more points – important of course because of the quality of the opponent, but there are a lot of fixtures to come and we try to win our games.”
After United crashed out of the Champions League group stages, Guardiola insisted Solskjaer could handle the increased pressure ahead of the derby.
United won both Premier League derbies last season and Solskjaer holds the highest win rate against Guardiola of any boss to have faced him at least four times.
Solskjaer has beaten Guardiola in three of their five meetings and United are one point better off than City so far in the 2020-21 standings.