Man City V Sunderland at Etihad Stadium : Match Preview

12 August 2016
Man City V Sunderland - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Pep Guardiola lauds "important" John Stones ahead of possible Man City debut

Pep Guardiola has hailed John Stones as he prepares to hand the England defender an immediate debut in Manchester City's Premier League opener against Sunderland on Saturday.

Stones joined City from Everton in a B#47.5million deal this week after a pursuit that had lasted most of the summer.

With captain Vincent Kompany injured and fitness doubts over Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala, Stones is likely to find himself straight in the side versus the Black Cats.

Guardiola said: "Finally we could pick John up. I think it is important for us - an English player, a young player, a huge talent, not just with defending but with his intelligence to read the next step, the next pass, behind the line.

"I think he is a good, good, good player, so we are happy to have him and he is fit. He played with Ronald Koeman (at Everton) four, five or six friendly games, of 90 minutes, so he is fit."

Guardiola has overseen eight signings since taking charge earlier in the summer and admits he does not yet know what his best team is. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss also says it will take time for his methods to take hold, although he will demand the highest attitude from the start.

The Spaniard said: "I know maybe 80 or 90 per cent who will play tomorrow. Maybe I need my dream tonight to make the right decision.

"To create something we need time, to create something with ideas to attack we need time. But to play with soul and something inside we don't need time.

"Tomorrow we don't know if everyone is going to play good or if we will get the result but I will not accept not playing with soul. We can do that from the first day and that is exactly what I am looking for from my team and my players.

"To create something, obviously we have to play games and it is so important to win for our confidence."

Two other summer signings in Ilkay Gundogan (knee) and Leroy Sane (hamstring) are injured but striker Nolito and midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko could make debuts.

New signings Adnan Januzaj, Paddy McNair and Donald Love will go straight into the Sunderland squad.

Midfielder Januzaj, who completed a season-long loan move from Manchester United on Friday, will be joined in the travelling party by permanent signings McNair and Love, who are both defenders, although manager David Moyes has a decision to make over wantaway centre-half Lamine Kone.

Moyes was unhappy that Kone had apparently been on Merseyside earlier in the week after handing in a transfer request in a bid to force a move to Everton.

He said: "He's a big part of it, he's a big player here. He was definitely in my team tomorrow, but I have got a decision to make because of what he has come out and said. He will be fined for what he has said as well."

The Scot will definitely be without Seb Larsson, who is facing up to six months on the sidelines following knee ligament surgery, while fellow midfielders Lee Cattermole (groin) and Jan Kirchhoff (hamstring) and full-back Billy Jones (hip) are also out.

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