Aymeric Laporte, Clubs, English Premier League, Manchester City, Story

Steve Nicol delves into just how much Man City will rue the loss of Aymeric Laporte who was stretchered off vs. Brighton.

MANCHESTER, England — Pep Guardiola fears Aymeric Laporte could be out “for a while” after the Manchester City defender was taken to hospital after suffering a knee injury during the 4-0 win over Brighton.

Laporte appeared to suffer an injury to his right knee after a challenge on Brighton defender Adam Webster.

The 25-year-old, who was due to join up with the France squad for the first time next week, lasted just 33 minutes before leaving the field on a stretcher.

“I think he is in hospital,” Guardiola told a news conference on Saturday. “It doesn’t look good. Exactly what he has I don’t know. The doctor is going to call me but I think it will be a while.”

Laporte’s injury leaves Nicolas Otamendi as Guardiola’s only fit senior centre-back. Vincent Kompany left in the summer and John Stones has not featured since the opening day of the season because of a muscle injury.

City tried to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester during the summer as a replacement for Kompany but were eventually pipped to his signature by rivals Manchester United.

On Friday, Guardiola praised Laporte as “the best left-sided centre-back in the world” after the former Athletic Bilbao man earned with first call-up to the senior France squad.

He was replaced against Brighton with midfielder Fernandinho and Guardiola is ready to deploy the Brazilian in defence again if Laporte is sidelined long term.

“He is a holding midfielder, everyone knows it, me included but I think he has the conditions to play there,” said Guardiola.

“The problems we have there as a situation, he is going to adapt. He is intelligent, fast, strong in the headers, in the build-up, he has the quality to see what happens in front. He can play in both positions.”

Despite Laporte’s injury, City cruised to a comfortable victory over Brighton thanks to two goals from Sergio Aguero and one each from Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva.

De Bruyne scored the first after just 71 seconds before Aguero scored either side of half-time. Silva scored 17 seconds after coming on as a second half substitute to wrap up the win and send City into the international break with 10 points from their opening four games.

It was City’s 51st win from their last 59 games against teams outside the big six.

“The game was tough,” said Guardiola. “If we analyse the result it was 4-0 but the performance not because they did really well.

“Few teams come here to play with this courage. The difference, my players up front are incredibly good and they make the difference.”

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