Manchester City set to be without Ruben Dias for crucial week

City face Atletico Madrid and Liverpool across the next week.

Ruben Dias is sidelined with injury (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Andy Hampson, PA

Ruben Dias is set to miss Manchester City’s crucial games against Atletico Madrid and Liverpool in the next week, manager Pep Guardiola has said.

The Portugal defender has been sidelined with a thigh injury for the past month and, although progressing well in his recovery, may not be back in action for another fortnight.

Leaders City return to action after the international break with a Premier League trip to Burnley on Saturday before hosting Atletico in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

It is a big week for Pep Guardiola’s side (Mike Egerton/PA)

The build-up will then begin to the crunch visit of title rivals Liverpool the following Sunday.

Asked how long Dias could be out, Guardiola said at a press conference on Friday: “I don’t know, the doctor said four to six weeks.

“I think it’s four now, (from) March 1, now it’s April 1. I think we need 10 days or two weeks more but everything is going well.”

On the positive side for City, fellow centre-back John Stones has been passed fit after withdrawing from the England squad last week with an injury.

John Stones is fit again (Martin Rickett/PA)

Stones pulled up injured in the warm-up prior to last Saturday’s friendly against Switzerland and then missed Tuesday’s clash with Ivory Coast as he returned to City for treatment.

Looking ahead to the game at Turf Moor, Guardiola said: “Ruben Dias and Cole Palmer are out and the rest are fit.”

City could be knocked off the top of the table for the first time since December before they play on Saturday as Liverpool’s clash with Watford kicks off earlier.

That could apply further pressure to City, who have dropped seven points in their last seven matches, but Guardiola insists it will make no difference to his side’s approach.

He said: “Nothing. Zero. Why? At the end of the weekend we will know the position we are in.

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“Even going points in front or points behind, we have to do our job. Nothing changes.”

City face a tough run of fixtures in April with eight games already scheduled, a programme that also includes the second leg against Atletico and another clash with Liverpool – in the FA Cup semi-finals – in the next fortnight.

Guardiola said: “We have a lot of games, eight or potentially nine games in this month and for every one we’ll select the best team to win the games.

“It’s not the first time we’ve faced it and will do again. It means what we’ve done so far we’ve done incredibly well. It’s because we are in all competitions.

Pep Guardiola, right, is a fan of Sean Dyche, left (Dave Thompson/PA)

“Now it is game by game. The first is Burnley, who are always a tough opponent, especially away.

“I have incredible respect for Sean Dyche. For many years their consistency, the ideas and the way they play shows he is a good football manager.

“It does not depend on results going good or bad. He believes what they are doing and it works.

“I know at the end of the season, going to Burnley away is very difficult for many opponents.”

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