Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said that criticism of defender John Stones is “unfair”.
The centre-back was at fault for both goals as Crystal Palace drew 2-2 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, but speaking ahead of the trip to Sheffield United on Tuesday, the City boss leapt to his defence.
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When asked bout criticism of Stones in the wake of the draw with Palace, Guardiola said: “Unfair, yes.
“We are there [to support him]. I am there, ups and downs in your career, managers always, we know his quality.”
Stones is a doubt for the game at Bramall Lane after picking up an injury in the move that saw Fernandinho score a last minute own goal against Palace.
Aymeric Laporte has returned to training five months after suffering a knee ligament injury but the clash with Sheffield United, seventh in the Premier League, may come too soon for his first team comeback.
“Every day [Laporte] is getting better,” Guardiola added.
“I have an idea [when he can play] but I have to think and we’ll see.”
Sheffield United are in the hunt for a European place in their first season back in the Premier League and earned a creditable 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Saturday.
They caused City problems at the Etihad Stadium in December before failing to a 2-0 defeat, and Guardiola has been impressed with Chris Wilder’s side.
“Incredibly impressed,” he added.
“If you can improve watching them, this is the one. There’s a reason why they are in the position they are. We saw it here a few weeks ago.
“I admire how they are doing, with the same players from Championship, League One and now in the Premier League, I like it. Sometimes you see teams and you think you can improve, and this is the one.”