Football: Man City's Guardiola defends 'intense' Fernandinho

Manchester City's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho (right) fights with Chelsea's Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas on Dec 3, 2016.
Manchester City's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho (right) fights with Chelsea's Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas on Dec 3, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has defended Fernandinho as the Brazilian midfielder prepares to return to the side following a four-game ban.

Fernandinho was sent off for the third time in his last six appearances during City's win over Burnley this month but returns to the squad for the Premier League game at West Ham United on Wednesday (Feb 1).

"He's so important and I am happy he's back. He's not aggressive. He's a tough intense player. He is one of the nicest guys I've met," Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday.

City missed Fernandinho in a 4-0 drubbing at Everton and a draw against Tottenham Hotspur which left them 12 points behind league leaders Chelsea.

They did, however, win 5-0 at West Ham in the FA Cup third round.

"What happened against Chelsea we have talked a lot about. What happened after happens many, many times. We accept the ban, don't complain, but he's not aggressive, he's honest," Guardiola added.

City striker Sergio Aguero will be fit to face 10th-placed West Ham.