Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho says he felt fully prepared to play in defence against Shakhtar Donetsk after training as a centre-back all season.
The Premier League champions overcame fitness issues to commence their Champions League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory in Ukraine.
Aymeric Laporte and John Stones missed the match due to knee and muscle injuries respectively, forcing Fernandinho to shuffle backwards in a makeshift central-defensive partnership with Nicolas Otamendi.
The pair performed admirably at Metalist Stadium, recording a clean sheet to temporarily ease Pep Guardiola’s headaches.
“It was easier at the back because we played as a team and the guys up front closed down the space,” Fernandinho told BT Sport.
“I’ve been training in this position since the start of the season.
“Of course, Pep knows everything about our squad, our team and when he needs you. I think every player should be ready.
“Today was my time, my opportunity and I hope I can get better and improve a little bit more.”
Great way to start! 3 and a good performance. Keep pushing! For all the friends and fans from Ukraine, it’s always nice to be back here and spend some time with you. pic.twitter.com/DsW8WVRyji
— Fernandinho (@fernandinho) September 18, 2019
City expect to regain England international Stones, a starter in last weekend’s Premier League loss to Norwich City, in around a month.
Laporte will not return until next year after damaging cartilage and the lateral meniscus in his right knee in the win over Brighton and Hove Albion on August 31.
Guardiola’s men have five matches to battle through before the next international break and the City boss accepts it will be impossible for Otamendi, 31, and Fernandinho, 34, to play without rest.
“For one or two games it’s okay, but for three or four months, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Guardiola said.
“Both were incredible [against Shakhtar]. Nico showed incredible personality. Maybe Kyle [Walker can play at centre-back], I don’t know, but these two cannot play every three days.
“Fernandinho can play many positions with a good personality and that’s why it’s so important for us.”
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