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Laporte won't solve all Man City's problems - Guardiola

15:15 GMT+4 20/01/2020
Aymeric Laporte Manchester City 2019-20
The reigning champions' manager doesn't expect a returning defender to have an immediate impact on the pitch after such a long injury lay-off

Aymeric Laporte won't solve all of Manchester City's problems when he returns to the first-team fold, according to Pep Guardiola, who says the defender will need time to get back to his best.

Laporte hasn't played for City since suffering a cruciate ligament knee injury during a 4-0 win over Brighton back in August.

The Frenchman is finally back in training with the senior squad after making a full recovery, and could be in line to feature when City welcome Fulham to the Etihad Stadium for a fourth-round FA Cup tie next weekend.

He will not, however, be included in Guardiola's plans for a trip to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United in the Premier League on Tuesday.

City suffered another major blow in their pursuit of a third successive title on Saturday, as Crystal Palace earned a 2-2 draw at the Etihad thanks to a late Fernandinho own goal.

The reigning champions are now 16 points behind leaders Liverpool having played a game more, and have already conceded four more goals than they did in the entire 2019-20 campaign.

Laporte's absence has been attributed to City's woes at the back, but Guardiola has warned that he won't provide an instant solution when he comes back, with plenty of work to be done before he can return to full match fitness.

"We cannot expect Aymeric to solve all of the problems. After four or five months he will need time so he will not be ready immediately to do it," Guardiola told reporters.

City left-back Benjamin Mendy is eager to see his team-mate come back as quickly as possible, admitting that a fellow countryman is sorely needed in the heart of the defence.

"He is very important. The way we play, his left foot is needed so it will be good to have him back central," he said.

"I think City will do much better."

Guardiola was left bemoaning his side's defensive mistakes after the draw with Palace, but he did praise his players for showing "spirit" to come back from 1-0 down.

The Premier League crown may be beyond City this time around, but they still have three other pieces of silverware to play for between now and May.

The Blues are on the verge of reaching a third consecutive Carabao Cup final, still going strong in the FA Cup, and also have a Champions League last-16 clash against Real Madrid to look forward to at the end of February.