| 4°C Belfast

Guardiola must quickly address side's defensive woes: Richards


Forgotten man: John Stones

Forgotten man: John Stones

Getty Images

Forgotten man: John Stones

Pep Guardiola has lost faith in John Stones, failed to replace Vincent Kompany and must quickly remedy Manchester City's centre-back problems, according to former defender Micah Richards.

England international Stones was left out of City's squad for yesterday's 2-0 derby defeat to Manchester United, with midfielder Fernandinho preferred as a makeshift defender alongside Nicolas Otamendi.

Guardiola's side have struggled to cope with the injury absences of star defender Aymeric Laporte this term, while former captain Kompany ended his 11-year spell with the club last summer.

Richards believes City's defensive frailties need resolving urgently following the seventh league loss of a disappointing title defence and thinks Stones - who has been restricted to 10 Premier League starts this season, with his last coming in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on January 18 - may not have a future at the Etihad Stadium.

"The centre-back situation needs sorting because I keep mentioning Fernandinho, in my opinion he's not a centre-back, he's better in midfield, we miss him in midfield," Richards said.

"I don't want to keep mentioning Kompany but I have to because it doesn't look like we've replaced him.

"Stones has won a Premier League. Otamendi has won a Premier League - they were calling him 'The General' only 18 months ago, so I don't know whether he's got to an age where he can't move as well but he's not producing the same performances as a couple of seasons ago.

"Stones has not played as many games as he would like. Has he lost the manager's trust? Probably. It needs sorting."

Belfast Telegraph