Nathan Ake was left out of the Manchester City squad to take on Porto in the Champions League after being deemed not fully fit.
The £40m defender, who joined from Bournemouth in the summer, played at left centre-back in the 1-0 win over Arsenal on Saturday and also trained with the squad ahead of this fixture. However, after suffering what the manager called “niggles in the groin” on the morning of the game the decision was taken to leave him out of the squad to rest up and recover full fitness in a relentless schedule.
Aymeric Laporte suffered a problem during the international break that has caused him to miss the two most recent games. In the absence of Ake, Eric Garcia has been selected to start alongside Ruben Dias in the middle of defence ahead of John Stones and Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
Garcia’s start is significant because it is the first time he has been picked since the transfer window closed, having last made an XI in the 5-2 drubbing by Leicester where he gave away a penalty and then stood off James Maddison for the fourth goal.
The 19-year-old made no secret of his desire to leave the club for Barcelona but with no acceptable offer arriving from the Nou Camp in the window the Blues decided that it would make more financial sense to keep him for the final year of his contract rather than sell him on the cheap.
From the moment Garcia announced his intention to leave, City were of the belief that he would not sulk if he didn’t get his move, and his selection for the first Champions League game indicates that his attitude has not dropped.