Pep Guardiola has said Aymeric Laporte can reclaim his first-choice status for Manchester City, despite the impressive central defensive partnership of John Stones and Rúben Dias.
The Frenchman had been an automatic choice since signing in January 2018 before a poor display in the 2-0 defeat at Tottenham in mid-November allowed Stones to re-establish himself in the XI, alongside Dias. Laporte has also since struggled with injury. Stones and Dias have been key in City’s impressive record of 17 clean sheets this term but the manager is clear there is a route back for the 26-year-old.
“It depends on him, the quality is there,” Guardiola said. “[He has to] be in top form and have his mind open. He’s the best left-sided defender [we have], he has special quality with the ball. He has to be focused to come back in the best condition possible and he will get his minutes. After, it depends on his performance like it depends on the form of everyone.”
Laporte will miss Wednesday’s visit of Aston Villa because of a hamstring problem but may be available for the FA Cup trip to Cheltenham on Saturday. “It would be good news – we need him, [like] we need [Nathan] Aké, Eric [García],” Guardiola said.
Of the defence’s record he said: “We have been really good except in the game against Leicester [a 5-2 defeat] at the start of the season.
“Many things help to be champions but if one or two of these drop a little bit then it’s difficult to do it. You need to be good in set pieces, up front, defensively, in the transitions: many aspects are needed, private life of the players, the physical form, being in a good mood.”
Sergio Agüero is still unavailable because he is isolating after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. “We need Agüero, we miss him,” Guardiola said.