No injury worries ahead of the Hull City game
Stevan Jovetic left out of European Champions League squad due to FFP
Ivory Coast players won’t be ready to play at Stoke but may return for Newcastle United game
Bony will give City options but isn’t guaranteed a start
Pellegrini boosted by positive City at Chelsea
All eyes will be on the Manchester City team sheet tomorrow and the reactions of Stevan Jovetic after he was left out of Manchester City’s European team list due to Financial Fair Play restrictions.
Both he and fellow striker Edin Dzeko have been linked to moves away from the Etihad as a result of the imminent arrival of Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony who is set to miss the next two City games alongside Yaya Toure as both are due to play in the final of the African Cup of Nations on Sunday.
Manuel Pellegrini will otherwise have a full squad to choose from for the visit of Hull City on Saturday.
“Eliaquim Mangala and Samir Nasri are both fine and will be in the squad.” confirmed the Chilean about City’s remaining two injury worries.
“Samir is a very important player and we have missed him but we also won games without him and Dzeko, Sergio Aguero and Yaya. It’s better for me to have a fully fit squad to choose players from but we can’t think that we can’t win without Nasri.”
Pellegrini confirmed that neither of the African players would be considered for the game at Stoke City on Wednesday, stating that it would be “impossible”, meaning that Bony could make his Manchester City bow in the home game against Newcastle United on February 21.
“The most important thing for them is to win the African Cup of Nations now that they are in the final.
“It’s always positive to win things and not to lose, especially when you arrive in the final as it’s not always easy to get it out of your head if you lose.
Pellegrini confirmed that Bony would offer City additional options and ways of playing that Alvaro Negredo provided last season against sides that packed their defence but that didn’t immediately guarantee him a place in the City starting XI.
“When you have so many teams that come here with nine or ten players near their box you need strikers who give you different choices.
“When he and Yaya come back from the African Cup of Nations we will talk with them and see the way that he works.
“Bony is also a squad player, he’s not come here just because we need a striker urgently.”
He also moved to allay fears about Stevan Jovetic’s future at City after the Montenegrin was left out of City’s European Champions League squad for the rest of the season.
The decision came about due to the signing of Wilfried Bony but Pellegrini was quick to point out City’s Financial Fair Play penalties this season that have restricted him to just 16 foreign players to play in Europe this season.
“It was always difficult to take a player out of the list but we have restrictions this year. We brought Bony because we need another box player and in Jovetic’s position we have other options. It was a difficult decision but it was the best one for the squad.
“It’s important for Stevan to play as many games as he can and not to be injured between now and the end of the season and have a high performance when he plays.
“We will analyse things not just for Stevan but for all the squad which will continue into the next year.
“He’s a good professional and we hope to have him playing in the Premier League in the same way that he did at the start of the season.” continued Pellegrini who brushed aside suggestions that Jovetic had been angry at being left out.
Pellegrini was confident that the five point gap between City and Chelsea could be overhauled and he was quick to point out that City have previous form in coming from behind to win their two Premier League titles and could improve.
“When you have to play 45 points more you can close the gap, and try and get to the top of the table as soon as we can.
“We must try and improve our performance and repeat what we did in December and away at Chelsea. All teams, not just Chelsea, will drop points between now and the end of the season. The last two times this team won the title it did it from behind so we can do it a third time.”
“January was not a good month for us. We changed our style of play and had to arrange our team without strikers. Our strikers came back and had to have minutes. The Chelsea game was another switch in performance, we played well away against the best team in the Premier League at the moment, so I am sure we will see the Manchester City that you normally expect to see.
“Every game in the Premier League is difficult for different reasons but the most important thing is the spirit and performance that we must have in every game. I am sure if we repeat what we did against Chelsea we will be an important team for the rest of the year.
Pellegrini was bouyed by a positive show in the second half against Chelsea in which City finished strongly against a Chelsea side that looked to be hanging on after making defensive changes to hang on for a draw.
“We had a lot of confidence after seeing the changes that Chelsea made.
“We had good feelings at the end of the Chelsea game and finished well against the leaders of the Premier League in their own stadium away.
“We had the personality and performance to go for the win from the beginning.
“It was important to play that way after the run of games in which we didn’t win but we need to repeat that performance against Hull tomorrow and score goals.”
Pellegrini had no further news on James Milner’s contract situation but repeated his assertion that Milner remained important to the team and would make a new arrangement soon despite the England midfielder increasingly appearing to be content to see his current deal out until the summer before making a decision about his future.
“James will always give his best for the club with or without a new contract.” stated Pellegrini.