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Man City star Ederson defends Pickford over Van Dijk injury with Mane comparison

Ederson has defended Jordan Pickford over the clash which left Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk potentially out for the rest of the season.

Everton keeper Pickford clattered into Van Dijk in last month's Merseyside derby, leaving the centre-back needing surgery on the serious knee injury he suffered.

But ahead of tomorrow's clash with title rivals Liverpool, Manchester City keeper Ederson backed Pickford and said there was clearly no intent on his part to deliberately injure Van Dijk.

Ederson was on the wrong end of a similar clash three years ago when a red card challenge from Sadio Mane left him needing oxygen and eight stitches in a facial wound, but he said he did not believe the Liverpool forward intended to injure him.

"First and foremost, I don't think any player steps on the pitch looking to injure an opponent," said Ederson. "Sometimes you have a fraction of a second to make a decision.

"Unfortunately, Jordan Pickford had that clash with Van Dijk and it ended up resulting in a serious injury. That's part of football; sometimes it happens. It could happen to any of us.

"I don't think it was Pickford's intention to injure Van Dijk and in the same way I don't think it was Mane's intention to do that when he clashed with me in our game a few years ago. You have such a short time to make a decision and it could happen to any of us.”

Despite the enforced absence of Van Dijk, their peerless centre-back, Ederson knows Jurgen Klopp's side will still prove formidable opponents when City host them at the Etihad Stadium.

"Their best centre-back, Van Dijk, is out," said Ederson. "Fabinho has been playing really well this season and he's out, too. But we mustn't forget that Liverpool still have great players.

"Their absences aren't going to be a big disadvantage for them or a big advantage for us. We don't focus on the players that aren't going to play, or a specific absence, we focus on Liverpool as a whole team.”

Ederson also revealed his admiration for fellow keeper Alisson, his opposite number at Liverpool. “I have a good friendship with Alisson," said Ederson. "He's an incredible guy. Our rivalry is only on the pitch, off the pitch that doesn't exist. We are good friends.

"I hope we both can have a good game on Sunday. Our style is very similar. Perhaps I play more with my feet, but so does he. Liverpool have more or less the same style of play and he is an incredible goalkeeper."

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