“Not Fresh” City Plough Through Their Fixtures
The big games continue to come thick and fast for Manchester City as they progress on three fronts in the closing stages of the season.
They will face their closest rivals United in the semi-finals of the FA Cup next month, after they laboured past Championship outfit Reading in last Sunday’s quarter-final at Eastlands.
They visit defending EPL champions Chelsea this coming Sunday in a match which will have a significant bearing on who grabs the third automatic qualification place for next season’s Champions League.
This Thursday sees them host Ukranians Dynamo Kiev in the last 16 of the Europa League, as they battle to overturn their 2-0 defeat in Kiev last week.
They will embark on this run-in without central defender Kolo Toure, who has been suspended following last month’s failed drugs test, and with further concerns over mercurial but maddening young Italian striker Mario Balotelli.
However, midfielder James Milner looks to have recovered from a hamstring injury picked up at the end of last month, and is in contention for a place in City’s Europa League squad.
City’s Italian supremo Roberto Mancini continues to bemoan his side’s punishing fixture schedule, despite his expensively-assembled playing resources.
After City’s 1-0 FA Cup triumph over Reading, courtesy of defender Micah Richards’ second-half header, Mancini said: “We are not at 100%, not as fresh as two months ago because we are playing every three days.”
City lost in Kiev less than three days previously, with Balotelli causing major concerns after his allergic reaction to the grass in Dynamo’s Valeriy Lobanovskiy stadium.
The Italian was late appearing for the second half and had to be substituted after 57 minutes. Mancini said: “Mario had an allergy, his face was swollen.”
City have injury concerns over midfielder Nigel de Jong and winger Adam Johnson ahead of tonight’s (Thursday’s) return leg. De Jong faces a late fitness test on an ankle injury.
Johnson’s return from his ankle injury, which has kept him out for seven weeks, is likely to have to wait until the trip to Chelsea. While Mancini said Milner “has worked with us for the past week and probably can go on the bench.”
Defender Kolo Toure failed his drugs test because of taking his wife’s dieting pills, according to his former boss at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger.
City said in a statement that the 29-year-old is suspended “pending the outcome of the legal process.”
Tags: Manchester City, FA Cup, Eastlands, EPL, Europa League, James Milner, Roberto Mancini, Kolo Toure