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Manchester City: Fernandinho confident that he can play at centre-back if needed

Manchester City: Fernandinho confident that he can play at centre-back if needed

Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho has insisted that he can play at centre-back if Pep Guardiola needs to deploy him there amid a defensive injury crisis at the Etihad Stadium.

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I News noted that John Stones has not featured since the opening Premier League game of the season after picking up an injury, while Aymeric Laporte twisted his knee and had to go off during the 4-0 win over Brighton at the weekend.

Fernandinho came on in his place at the Etihad on Saturday and said afterwards: “I’ve been training in this position the last couple of weeks. We still have two centre-backs but I can play in this position. John was injured, Laporte comes off and I was the only one on the bench. It’s not a secret for me.” [via I News].

With Vincent Kompany leaving the club at the end of last season, Manchester City have just three natural centre-backs for the 2019/20 campaign in Stones, Laporte and Nicolas Otamendi.

While Fernandinho has been deployed in the centre of defence previously, Saturday’s game was just the fourth time in 555 club appearances that he had played there.

In his previous three games at centre-back, all for Manchester City, they conceded two goals each to Shakhtar Donetsk and Schalke 04 in Champions League games and let one in against Arsenal in a Premier League victory last season. [via TransferMarkt.co.uk]

However, the 34-year-old gave an assured display against Brighton after replacing Laporte, winning two aerial duels, making one interception and recording a 93.3% passing success rate, while his performance was praised by a number of reporters afterwards.

Tyrone Marshall of Manchester Evening News said that he looked “really assured at centre-back, calmly snuffing out [Leandro] Trossard’s threat on a couple of occasions”, while David Crook of mancitysquare.com opined that Fernandinho made his unfamiliar position look like one in which he had played routinely.

Although Fernandinho looked at ease in his role at centre-back against Brighton, the Seagulls recorded just six shots at the Etihad on Saturday.

At least the Brazil midfielder showed to Guardiola that he can adapt to the role if needed, while the international break gives Stones a chance to get back to full fitness ahead of Manchester City’s next game against Norwich on September 14th.

Also, with Rodri featuring in all of the Premier League champions’ games so far this season and keeping Fernandinho out of the team until last weekend, moving the 34-year-old back to defence would not detract from Manchester City’s midfield so long as Rodri is available.

Fernandinho’s versatility may just have given Guardiola an unexpected yet welcome defensive Plan B this season.

Manchester City fans, how confident are you in Fernandinho’s ability to move to centre-back if needed? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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