SOCCER - A.Klagenfurt vs Southampton, test match KLAGENFURT,AUSTRIA,18.JUL.22 - SOCCER - ADMIRAL Bundesliga, Premier League, SK Austria Klagenfurt vs FC Southampton, test match. Image shows a ball. PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxAUTxSUIxSWE GEPAxpictures/xFlorianxMori

The defender says Pep Guardiola’s squad has stayed focused ahead of the last-16 battle with Real Madrid.

Aymeric Laporte insists that Manchester City’s impending ban from the Champions League won’t act as additional motivation for this year’s competition.

The Premier League winners were awarded a two-year European ban and fined $30m (#25m) by UEFA for breaching Financial Fair Play rules.

City are appealing the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but as it now stands, the ban will come into force at the beginning of next season.

But they have an enormous last-16 battle with 13-times winners Real Madrid before that, as they attempt to win the European trophy for the first time. The ban has prompted concerns about the futures of some of City’s players but Laporte says the squad is simply focused on playing soccer.

“We’re professionals, a significant team with big personalities in the dressing area, and I believe we just consider soccer, nothing else,” he said after City’s 2-0 victory over West Ham on Wednesday. “We are professionals and need to do our job. That is all.”

Asked if the ban will inspire the squad for the first leg in the Santiago Bernabeu next week, Laporte added:”We do not need more inspiration for anything.

“Every game is tough and we must get focused. The Champions League is very important to us and we need the best effort we could do.”

Laporte’s beginning in the win over West Ham was only his second appearance since he was out for almost five weeks with a knee injury.

The 25-year-old was remembered for last month’s success over Sheffield United but was rested for the subsequent three games with the club being cautious about his recovery.

Nevertheless, the French defender says his comeback wasn’t being handled with just the two legs against Madrid in your mind.

“It was not too soon [to return ] — it was earlier than we anticipated but I felt good and confident and had one or two weeks to break,” he said. “It wasn’t easy to come back after five months, to perform on that pitch. It was very demanding, but not too soon.

“My recovery has been about coming back as soon as you can, not only for Real Madrid. I wish to play in each match – West Ham, Leicester, Madrid, it does not matter.

“I was fit and available, however, the Sheffield game was tough and I was tired. I rested, that is all.

“It has been tough and long but I’m here and happy to return. Now I am looking forward to fighting before the end of the year”