London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola is confident Aymeric Laporte is ready to play 90 minutes against Real Madrid on Wednesday even though the defender asked to be substituted during Saturday’s 1-0 win at Leicester.
Laporte was replaced by Nicolas Otamendi after 57 minutes of Saturday’s match, his third appearance since his return from a long lay-off with a knee injury.
Guardiola said there was no fresh injury problem for the Frenchman but the pace of Leicester’s attack was a tough test for a player still rediscovering his rhythm.
“He asked me to be subbed,” Guardiola said. “He’s not injured. We cannot forget he has been out for four or five months injured. They run a lot, (Jamie) Vardy, Kelechi (Iheanacho), (Harvey) Barnes, they are all so fast.
“It was quite different against West Ham (on Wednesday), where there was only one striker so it was easier to control, but he’s OK.”
Asked if Laporte was ready to play the full match in the Champions League last-16 first-leg clash at the Bernabeu, Guardiola said: “Yes”.
Laporte has made a gradual return to action from the knee injury suffered against Brighton on August 31.
He played 78 minutes against Sheffield United on January 21 but then did not appear again until Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over West Ham, completing 65 minutes at the Etihad.
City have not conceded a goal while Laporte has been back in action and Guardiola will be keen to have his best defender on the pitch for as long as possible against Madrid.
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