Man City Could Be Boosted by Early Injury Comeback
By Mark Ogden | Daily Telegraph | Published: 05th February 2014 07:00 AM |
Fernandinho has an outside chance of easing Manchester City's injury crisis by returning to fitness in time for the Champions League encounter with Barcelona on February 18.
With a decisive run of fixtures over the next month which could shape City's destiny in four competitions, the prospect of Fernandinho joining Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri on the sidelines throughout that period would inflict a sizeable dent in the club's hopes of achieving an unprecedented quadruple of trophies.
However, having voiced fears that the Brazilian midfielder faced a month on the sidelines with the thigh problem that forced him to miss the Premier League defeat against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Monday, Manuel Pellegrini, the City manager, could now have the pounds 30 million summer signing available for the last-16 first-leg tie against the Spanish champions Barcelona.
City's medical team have yet to ascertain the full extent of Fernandinho's injury, sustained in training on Sunday, which forced him out of the Chelsea game. But while a four week lay-off is regarded as the worst-case scenario, there is hope at the club that the 28 year-old could return within a fortnight, opening up the prospect of him facing Barcelona.
In Fernandinho's absence, Pellegrini deployed centre-half Martin Demichelis alongside Yaya Toure in the deep-lying midfield role, but with Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and James Milner close to full fitness after recent injuries, City have specialist midfielders ready to return for the fixtures against Norwich City, Sunderland and Chelsea, in the FA Cup, prior to the Barcelona fixture.
Aguero's hamstring will keep the Argentine forward out for at least a further three weeks, while Nasri's return from a medial ligament injury is also regarded as being within the same timescale, putting both men at risk of missing the Capital One Cup final against Sunderland on March 2.
With Chelsea's victory at the Etihad Stadium ending City's 100 per cent record at home in the league this season, the prospect of injuries conspiring to derail the club's hopes in all competitions has been raised.
City full-back Pablo Zabaleta insists however, that, while the defeat against Jose Mourinho's team was a setback, the only way to react is by displaying the strength that has taken the club into contention for four trophies.
"Sometimes when you lose one game it feels terrible, but we must be stronger than ever," Zabaleta said. "We know we are only two points behind Arsenal and there is a long way to go. We have 14 more games to go in the Premier League and we need to be positive. We are disappointed with the game we played against Chelsea because we didn't play our best.
"We must be honest, it was one of those games that we didn't do anything. It was an important game to get three points and go back top of the league. But we need to think, to be positive. We need to review the game just to see all the mistakes we made and try to not do them again next game."
Despite the injuries to Aguero, Nasri and Fernandinho, City remain favourites to win the league and both domestic cups.
Zabaleta insisted that now was the time for calm heads at City with key fixtures in all four competitions looming within the next four weeks.
"We still have a chance in four competitions. We have big games coming in February so we need to have a good rest and be ready for Saturday and another tough game away at Norwich. Against Chelsea, for them it was a special game. They knew it and played well for the 90 minutes, but we missed some important players. But at the end, I think we are in a good shape and winning games.
"We were a little bit frustrated by the result but this is football and sometimes you can lose games. We can learn about the mistakes and see how difficult the Premier League is at the moment, but we need to keep calm. The manager is clever enough to work during the week and show to us what we did wrong."
Meanwhile, City are expected to follow up their interest in Porto midfielder Fernando by signing the Brazilian on a free transfer at the end of the season.
Attempts to sign the player in the final days of the January transfer window failed to prove successful.
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