Pellegrini to investigate injuries

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Published: Sunday 14th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is to investigate the spate of muscle injuries that threatens to undermine his side’s return to form.

City could have to play through the Christmas programme without a recognised senior striker and their captain after a costly 1-0 victory over Barclays Premier League bottom side Leicester on Saturday.

The club’s only fit striker, Edin Dzeko, suffered a calf muscle injury in the warm-up before skipper Vincent Kompany pulled up with a recurrence of a hamstring problem late in the second half.

Both are unlikely to be fit before new year and join forwards Sergio Aguero and Stevan Jovetic on the casualty list.

Their absences will leave sizeable gaps at both ends of the field and Pellegrini wants to find out if there is an underlying cause, although the Chilean will not make excuses.

“Maybe we must find a reason why,” said Pellegrini, whose side have won seven in succession. “It is very unlucky to have the three strikers out with injuries but we must try to solve the problem and play another way, or keep a clean sheet.

“It is difficult because we have to play a lot of games during the last days of December, but I never complain about the players who cannot play.”

Kompany had been making his comeback after a three-game absence with a hamstring injury and the influential Belgian also missed a game at QPR in November with a calf problem.

Dzeko had only recently returned from a four-game lay-off with a calf strain while Jovetic has had niggly hamstring issues in recent weeks and aggravated them in Wednesday’s Champions League win at Roma.

Full-back Aleksandar Kolarov missed all City’s November fixtures with a calf injury. Top scorer Aguero has knee ligament damage and could be out for up to eight weeks.

Teenage striker Jose Angel Pozo was drafted into the side at the King Power Stadium at the last moment and the lack of current alternatives could force City into the transfer market in January.

Pellegrini said: “In January we will see, it is an option. I think our squad must always be strong.”

Another looming problem is the loss of midfielder Yaya Toure to the African Nations Cup next month.

That is likely to mean Pellegrini will press harder to extend the loan of Frank Lampard in the coming days.

Former England and Chelsea midfielder Lampard again proved City’s chief inspiration and was their match-winner at Leicester, netting the only goal – his sixth for the club – five minutes before half-time.

The 36-year-old’s loan from sister club New York City expires at the end of the month and Pellegrini has made clear he wants him to stay longer. He also said after the game that Lampard himself also wanted to stay on.

A decision has not yet been made but Pellegrini had already come to a firm opinion on his value before the injuries to strikers that left the veteran as one of the team’s few obvious goalscorers.

“That is why he is now on the team but he would not stay with us because we have injured strikers,” said Pellegrini. “He would stay with us because he is a very important player.”

City were laboured but at least kept claimed the three points needed to prevent Chelsea extending their three-point advantage at the top of the table.

Leicester made the early running and rallied late on but City’s defence held firm and recorded a valuable third clean sheet in the space of a week.

“As a defender it is always nice to have a clean sheet but I want to say all the team defended well,” said right-back Bacary Sagna. “We faced a very athletic team. They tried to create problems but we stayed compact as a team and finally we got the three points. We have to look forward and keep working.”

Leicester boss Nigel Pearson feels his side are letting themselves down at both ends of the field.

The result left the promoted Foxes bottom of the table and without a win in 11 games, since they stunned Manchester United on September 21.

He said: “This remains the frustrating aspect about our season so far – that we are not converting key chances and an inability to keep that clean sheet.

“We find ourselves adrift at the bottom at the moment and that is something we are going to have to rectify.

“From a tactical perspective we didn’t really allow them to have a great deal of dominance.

“But the bottom line is, it is about being dominant in both boxes and we have not delivered that again.”

Published: Sunday 14th December 2014 by The News Editor

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