Manchester City suffer huge injury blow as defender Ruben Dias is ruled out for up to a month

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Manchester City suffered a blow brought on by the World Cup as Ruben Dias was ruled out for up to a month.

Sportsmail understands Dias encountered a problem with his thigh during Portugal’s last-16 victory over Switzerland but continued to play during the tournament.

The central defender remained on the pitch for the full 90 minutes as Portugal were dumped out by Morocco four days later and has not trained with City since his return from Qatar.

An initial assessment suggested that Dias, one of the club’s five captains, will miss City’s next five games after their 3-2 win over Liverpool in the Carabao Cup.

The spell on the sidelines should rule the 25-year-old out of a double header with Chelsea and the derby against Manchester United on January 14. Dias is desperate to prove his fitness before the trip to Old Trafford.

His absence serves as a headache for Pep Guardiola, although City’s injury problems in defence have been eased by Kyle Walker’s return to fitness, meaning centre halves are no longer required to fill in at right back.

Kalvin Phillips has also been an absentee in training following a return from international duty and was missing at the Etihad Stadium.

The central midfielder’s five substitute appearances have totalled fewer than 60 minutes of football since a £42million summer switch from Leeds United.

‘Ruben is injured. Kalvin Phillips is not fit, he did not arrive in the best condition to play,’ Guardiola said.

Guardiola predicted that 18-year-old Rico Lewis, who impressed again at right back, has a huge future with the Premier League champions.

‘Without him, we couldn’t have played the way we played,’ the City boss said. ‘Today he was against a real senior team. It’s about how he is without the ball. We have the privilege to almost announce that he will be an incredible player for City over the next years.

‘He understands everything in one second and apples it so quickly. He always plays good, but against Liverpool? He is 18. Outstanding. He was man of the match.

‘Kevin (De Bruyne) was incredible too. Kevin needs to be a bit grumpy, upset, to be at his best. When this happens, what a player. He’s a legend, he’ll be remembered forever as one of the greatest players of all time.’

While pleased with Liverpool’s performance, Jurgen Klopp – who now has Roberto Firmino injured with a calf problem and saw James Milner come off with a hamstring twinge – bemoaned a sluggish start.

‘They do things differently and we needed 15 minutes. It can cost you,’ he said. ‘We had our moments, we could’ve scored more goals. It was a spectacular game, high intensity. There is a lot to take from it. We played probably the best team in the world. It’s normal that you struggle in moments, I accept that.’

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