Manchester City defender Nathan Ake joins right back Kyle Walker and goalkeeper Ederson in facing a spell on the sidelines with injury, but John Stones may return against Aston Villa, manager Pep Guardiola said on Tuesday.

Ake was forced off after 27 minutes during City’s 0-0 home draw against Premier League title rivals Arsenal on Sunday, a fixture that Walker and Ederson missed, while Stones was an unused substitute.

Guardiola did not provide a timeline for Ake, Walker or Ederson’s return. City, third in the standings with 64 points, one fewer than second-placed Arsenal and three below leaders Liverpool, next host Villa on Wednesday.

“John has to feel fully fit. But the injury was less than we expected. We’ll see. Maybe next games he’ll be ready.” Guardiola told reporters. “(Ake) injured. Hopefully he will be back soon. I don’t know exactly the timing. Next game he won’t be ready.”

Guardiola was full of praise for Villa boss Unai Emery, who has transformed the Midlands club since replacing former England midfielder Steven Gerrard in October 2022.

City suffered a 1-0 loss at Villa, fourth in the table, in December last year.

“(It’s) excellent, the way they play. Unai Emery has consistency every season. They’ve been impressive. It’s no surprise, the quality of him, his management and the team,” Guardiola said.

“I haven’t watched all their games, but I think they’ll play with the same system and ideas.

“They’re good on set-pieces and in transition, with two quick players up front. They have a strong backline and an exceptional goalkeeper. That’s why they are where they are.”

Guardiola said that his treble-winning side cannot afford to drop any more points with nine games to go.

“It’s just winning games, that’s what we have to do,” he added.

“Villa are playing to qualify for the Champions League, every team plays for something, so the last few games will be difficult to manage.

“Our experience (of strong finishes) is over, it doesn’t count. What counts is Villa. Being able to win lots of games in a row before, I don’t know how many (we can win) now. The only thing is how to beat Villa.”

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