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.
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.”