Portugal’s Ruben Dias is likely to miss this month’s World Cup qualifier against Turkey with a hamstring injury that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said will sideline the defender for up to six weeks.
Portugal, the 2016 European champions, face Turkey in a play-off on March 24 before a potential final match to get to Qatar 2022 against Italy, the team that succeeded them last year as kings of the continent, five days later.
Dias’ absence with an injury suffered in the first half of Tuesday’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Peterborough is also a problem for reigning Premier league champions City.
During the Cup tie the league leaders, six points clear of second-placed Liverpool but having played a game more, lost Nathan Ake to a less severe injury.
That means John Stones and Aymeric Laporte are the only two experienced City defenders fit for Sunday’s Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium.
“It will be four to six weeks,” Guardiola said Friday of the time Dias would be out of action.
“It happens in a season. I don’t love it, we need him — a lot. Ruben is massively important for us but he is not there.
“I’m not going to cry. We have just two central defenders — it is what it is.”
The prognosis for Dias’ injury means it is uncertain if he will be available for a potentially title-deciding match against Liverpool on April 10.
Before then, City take a 5-0 lead into the second leg of their last 16 Champions League tie at home to Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday.
Guardiola’s men then have Premier League matches against Crystal Palace and Burnley, as well as an FA Cup quarter-final away to top-flight rivals Southampton.
Dias, 24, has impressed since a £62 million ($87 million) move from Benfica in September 2020.
But his absence gives Stones an opportunity to re-establish himself as a mainstay of City’s back four.
Without Dias, City must find another way to stop Cristiano Ronaldo, his Portugal team-mate, starring for Manchester United at the weekend.
“He’s been one of the greatest in the last 15 years, alongside (Lionel) Messi,” said Guardiola, who almost signed Ronaldo before the forward returned to Manchester for a second spell at Old Trafford.
“As a finisher he’s exceptional,” the Spaniard added.