Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said that John Stones should be "OK" to face Liverpool on New Year's Eve after the defender was withdrawn in the first half in their 3-0 win over Hull City.

The England international was replaced by Aleksandar Kolarov in the 18<sup>th minute, which raised doubts over his availability to face Jurgen Klopp's side. Liverpool take on Stoke City on Tuesday (27 December) and will host City in the next clash on 31 December. Guardiola said he was worried following Stones' withdrawal, but has played down any injury fears.

"We were a little bit worried about that but it is just a kick, hopefully OK for Liverpool. A kick not ligaments or something like that," Guardiola told the BBC.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager explained why Stones was replaced early in the first half. He said: "He had a huge kick in his knee. He could not run and that's why we changed. Now when you see his knee it is swollen – but it is just a kick, not ligaments or anything."

City saw two of their key players, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho, receive red cards in their defeat to Chelsea at the Etihad. The Brazilian international returned to action after serving a three-match ban against Hull, while the striker completed his four-match suspension.

Guardiola will welcome the Argentine international when his side take on Liverpool. With Stones' injury not serious and Aguero eligible to face the Reds, it has handed a double boost for the Catalan manager for City's trip to Anfield.

City's victory over Hull was their third straight win and their manager has stressed the result was crucial before facing Liverpool.

"It's important for us to get three victories in a row, it's not enough because the other teams are strong as well. Now we're going to rest and prepare for Anfield," the City manager explained.