Manchester City midfielder James Milner looks doubtful for next week’s Champions League clash against Barcelona with a knee injury.
The England international has been ruled out of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League date with Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium (live on NBC at 12:30pm ET for viewers in the USA) and will be assessed before Tuesday’s glamor encounter.
Milner, impressive this season in various positions, has taken a knock and although City are hopeful it is not serious, they are still to learn the extent of the problem.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini said: “We will see. It is not very, very serious but he couldn’t work in the whole week, so we will see how he improves in the next (few) days but he has a kick in his ligament in his knee.
“He is not available for tomorrow. All the other players in the squad are fit.”
Attention is already starting to turn to the visit of Catalan giants Barca, but with a seven-point deficit to leaders Chelsea in the Premier League to make up, Pellegrini wants to keep focus on Newcastle.
The Chilean is so keen to prevent the Champions League becoming a distraction that a planned player interview session for Spanish-speaking media to preview the game on Thursday was cancelled at short notice.
This attracted some negative coverage in the Spanish press but Pellegrini has promised to rearrange.
He said: “It was nothing important. I think it was not the right day to have a press conference about a game that we must play on Tuesday.
“I think it is more important to finish with Newcastle and then we can do a press conference on Sunday or Monday.”
New signing Wilfried Bony is in contention to make his City debut against the Magpies.
The £25million striker has not been available since being signed from Swansea last month due to his involvement, along with key City midfielder Yaya Toure, in Ivory Coast’s African Nations Cup triumph.
Bony finally linked up with the City squad earlier this week and is set to be included in the squad, although Pellegrini was offering no guarantees.
He said: “I think that Bony will be an important player for us. He will be in the squad list but we will see if he will be in the starting 11 or have some minutes after that. He has worked with our team the whole week without any problems.”
The signing of Bony has led to City omitting fellow forward Stevan Jovetic from their Champions League squad. City are limited to 21 players for the competition this year – rather than the usual 25 – after breaching Financial Fair Play regulations and Jovetic has been sacrificed for the second half of the season.
The Montenegro international last week voiced his frustration at the situation but Pellegrini expects him to respond on the pitch.
He said: “I think that Stevan is a professional and he must work to try to play in the ways he knows in the matches that he can do it.”
The return of talisman Toure will also be much welcomed. City won impressively, 4-1 at Stoke, on their last outing but had failed to win any of their previous six league outings without him.
Pellegrini said: “Yaya is always an important player for us. It is also important for him and Bony to come back winning the Africa Cup. Always the trust is better. With Yaya I suppose he will come back the same player he was before.”
City want to build on their Stoke victory, which ended an indifferent run of five games without a win.
Pellegrini said: “It is important for us to try not to think about where Chelsea are or the other teams. It is important for us not to drop points but the only way to do it is to play well.
“But I always say Newcastle is a very good team, they have very good players. It is not easy to play against them.”
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