“If his injury is as bad as it looks, it shifts the title towards Anfield. It is that big.”

That was BBC pundit Jermaine Jenas’s reaction on Match of the Day, a few hours after seeing Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte carried off on a stretcher during their win over Brighton on 31 August.

When the extent of Laporte’s knee injury was assessed over the international break, the news was not good for the Frenchman, or City.

While the 25-year-old left-sided centre-back avoided the fate of team-mate Leroy Sane, who is sidelined until March after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament during the Community Shield, he is still not expected to return to action until the start of 2020, at the earliest.

If that prognosis is correct, Laporte will miss at least 15 Premier League games, City’s entire Champions League group campaign and the start of their Carabao Cup defence.

It adds up to about a third of City’s season, so we are about to find out just how important he is – especially because City’s two remaining senior centre-backs have played together a lot less than you might think.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/49668729