Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has told Belgium their captain Vincent Kompany will not be fit for their final Euro 2016 qualifiers. Kompany has been named in the Belgium squad for their upcoming fixtures against Andorra and Israel despite missing City’s last four games with a calf injury. The 29-year-old has also been ruled out of City’s clash with Newcastle this weekend, and Pellegrini does not expect him to be fit for at least another fortnight.
Pellegrini accepts Belgium have a right to call up Kompany and examine him themselves ahead of two vital fixtures, but he is convinced he will not be able to feature:
“I can’t ask him not to travel – if the national team call him, he must go. He is an important player, he must be with his mates and Belgium are playing important games for the next European Championship.
“It is not a problem for him to go to the national squad but he cannot play, so I don’t think he will play.
“In the same way when you don’t play for your national team you cannot play after for your club, it must be the same in the other sense. If you cannot play for your squad you cannot play for your national squad.”
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Pellegrini hopes Kompany will recover from his latest setback during the international break, along with a number of other players on a lengthy injury list. Yaya Toure, Gael Clichy, Fabian Delph and Samir Nasri are currently all on the sidelines while David Silva, Wilfried Bony and Kelechi Iheanacho have only just returned to fitness.
City take on Newcastle on Saturday looking to regain the top spot in the Barclays Premier League they lost with defeat at Tottenham last weekend.
Pellegrini said: “Tomorrow we play a difficult team in Newcastle who played very well against Chelsea. We are not thinking about the top of the table. We are thinking about having a good performance and to add three more points.”
Newcastle boss Steve McClaren is refusing to sit back and admire his team after one good performance. The Magpies belatedly demonstrated what they are capable of last weekend when they came within four minutes of victory over champions Chelsea before having to settle for a 2-2 draw. McClaren’s men ended a run of four successive defeats in the process and muted some of the criticism which had been coming their way after a distinctly ordinary start to the new head coach’s reign.
However, McClaren insists the pressure is still on as he prepares for a perhaps even more difficult trip on Saturday:
“The pressure will always be there. There is pressure to perform at the standard we want.
“You should have that pressure and fear. That makes you concentrated. We will need that to get anything at the Etihad.
“Consistency is now what we are after from that level of performance against Chelsea. That is how we want to play, the first half. We fought all the way and defended well in the second half.
“We have been inconsistent from the start of the season, some good, some bad. Seven games in we are getting closer to our style and level of play.
“We have always said it can happen quickly, sometimes it is smooth. But this has not been a smooth one. It has been up and down. We are getting closer.”
McClaren has a doubt over midfielder Jack Colback, who started against Chelsea after shaking off a calf problem, but lasted only 54 minutes before succumbing to a hamstring strain which is threatening his participation at the Etihad Stadium.
That could open the door for the fit-again Cheick Tiote to make his first appearance since New Year’s Day, although there are other options.
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