Manchester City are hoping to repeat the success of last year’s FA cup semi-final when they take on their city rivals on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium.
The “noisy neighbours” cemented their place as one of the country’s top dogs when beat their rivals 1-0 at Wembley last year.
However, they will take on an angry Manchester United side without the help of some key players and City manager Roberto Mancini claims he does not have enough players to field a full 18-man squad.
Striker Mario Balotelli (ankle) and midfielder Gareth Barry (suspension) are definitely forced out while defender Kolo and midfielder Yaya Toure have to report for African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast.
Mancini is hoping that striker Edin Dzeko (knee) and forward Samir Nasri (illness) will be fit to bolster a stretched squad but the former United midfielder Owen Hargreaves is not expected to come into contention despite the shortage.
Robert Mancini is not taking Ferguson’s team lightly despite beating them in the cup last year and 6-1 at Old Trafford in October, last year.
“It’s a difficult game, a derby is always difficult but at this moment, maybe more because they are angry after two defeats. They are very strong in defeat and for this reason it will be a very tough game,” said the Italian.
Manchester United have no new injury worries after Wednesday’s defeat at Newcastle and Sir Alex expects to field the same squad for the game, which kicks off at 1pm.
United will still have to do without Johnny Evans (calf), Chris Smalling (illness) and of course, Nemanja Vidic who is set to miss the rest of the season but the manager is convinced that they have enough experience in the squad to deal with the tough prospect ahead.
Antonio Valencia looks set to continue his duty as a makeshift right-back in the absence of twins Fabio and Rafael with Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand to remain in the centre of the defence.
Sir Alex said: “I always say about the FA Cup, I’d take anybody in a home draw. So the advantage is with City this time in respect of the home draw. But it’s a cup tie, it’s a local derby and anything can happen in these games.”
Manchester City: (4-4-2): Hart, Richards, Lescott, Kompany, Clichy, Milner, De Jong, Johnson, Nasri, Aguero, Dzeko.
Manchester United (4-3-3): Lindegaard, Valencia, Jones, Ferdinand, Evra, Nani, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Rooney, Berbatov
You can also read Andy Gray’s column on United and City this week here, or by following the links below.