Sergio Agüero injury woes continue for Pellegrini’s ‘strong’ Man City

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini says Sergio Agüero will miss his ninth match of the season as the Argentine looks likely to be sidelined against Stoke City.

The Citizens’ marksman, who sustained a minor heel knock in City’s 3-1 win over Southampton last weekend, had previously tweeted to dispel rumours of yet another lengthy layoff.

But Pellegrini has tempered hopes of Agüero, who has seven goals in 10 Premier League appearances so far this season and 85 in 135 in the competition since his 2011 transfer, returning to the side and to rich goal-scoring form at the Britannia.

“We’ll see on Kun – he’s recovering from his heel,” said the Chilean. “He’s in pain so it’s not easy for him to work. I don’t think he will be fit – maybe for Tuesday.”

In more positive news, goalkeeper Joe Hart has recovered from a hamstring injury suffered in City’s close-run 1-0 loss to Juventus away in Turin and could start at the weekend, while both Jesús Navas and Fernando are fit.

Pellegrini said: “Joe worked yesterday and today without any problems so he’s in the squad list – we’ll see tomorrow if he can play. Navas and Fernando are both in the squad and have no problems.”

City have been criticised for what some perceived as an overreliance on a core sect of players, including captain Vincent Kompany, still sidelined himself, David Silva, man of the match in City’s Capital One Cup win over Hull City and finally Agüero.

But Pellegrini was keen to dispel any such notion, claiming: “We don’t depend on one or two players. We have an average of six players injured every game but even so we’re through to the last 16 of the Champions League and into the semi-final of the Capital One Cup.

“It doesn’t matter which names start as we will play the same style.

“I think for a manager the best thing is to try and keep the starting 11 when you are winning but it’s impossible for the amount of games we’re playing.

“It’s also important that it doesn’t matter who plays, we have a good performance either way.”

City face a gruelling three games in the next nine days, with the bout at Stoke followed by a pivotal Champions League match against Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Etihad on Tuesday before Swansea City travel to the Etihad on the 12th.

Additionally, from December 21-January 6, City play five matches that could make or break their bid to reclaim their Premier League crown, and Pellegrini recognises the importance of such a hectic period.

“I think December and January are critical months for the Premier League,” he said. “It’s important to be near the top of the table before the Champions League starts again and you’re playing every few days.

“You have to play so many games, especially when you continue in the Capital One and we also start the FA Cup.

“We’re in a strong position in so many competitions. I don’t think anyone can doubt how strong our squad is. The important thing is to try and play in the same way and that’s what we’re doing. I’m very pleased with how things are going.

“We are all very happy to continue in all competitions but we’re not thinking about winning all four competitions – always just the next game.”

But with a trip to face former City manager Mark Hughes’ Stoke first on the agenda, the chance to ensure that his side remains on top of the Premier League pile is one that the former Real Madrid manager would do well not to pass up on.

“We just watched the game from last season and we played very well,” Pellegrini said. “It’s important to be aggressive from the start against Stoke from the first minute.

“Especially in the first 15/20 minutes, they want to make the difference so it’s important to be good from the start. Last year they make a mix of styles – they try to not always play with high balls and just with crosses.

“They try to have more possession – by the characteristics of their players they still try to score with crosses but it’s a mix now. It will be a tough against an important team.”

Image courtesy of Puma via YouTube, with thanks.

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