Manuel Pellegrini will field James Milner as a deep-lying centre forward in training this week as he attempts to solve his club’s injury crisis.
Manchester City left the King Power Stadium with the satisfaction of having completed their fifth successive Premier League victory but with no fit strikers in their first-team squad.Edin Dzeko, named on the team sheet, pulled out after injuring a calf during the warm-up, while Stevan Jovetic apparently suffered a reaction in his suspect hamstring after coming on as a substitute during last Wednesday’s crucial Champions League success over Roma, and was unavailable. With Sergio Agüero out for six to eight weeks with knee ligament damage and Álvaro Negredo unable to be recalled from a season’s loan at Valencia, Pellegrini had to field the 18-year-old José Ángel Pozo on his own up front. When the willing but noticeably lightweight Pozo was exhausted, in the second half, the diminutive David Silva took on the role, though he spent as much time defending in and around his own penalty area as providing an outlet. Before the transfer window opens, however, Pellegrini must also find a way to beat Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion, Burnley and Sunderland.
“We will have to find another way to play,” said Pellegrini, going on to mention Silva, Samir Nasri and James Milner as possible stop-gap solutions, and then have a little moan about the perception that the vast resources of City’s backers will make the problem go away soon enough.
“It’s not easy in January to make a good transfer. I think maybe this year all of you keep [saying] we have the best squad in the Premier League. I’m not very happy about that. You must remember we have important restrictions about the amount of players we have and also, of the big teams, I think we’ve spent the least money, but we continue being the favourite, we continue being the big-spending team.”
Manchester City have seemingly ruled out a loan move for David Villa to ease the club’s striker shortage, despite the Spanish forward’s short-term availability at New York City FC. Villa, 33, signed for newly-formed MLS franchise New York City owned by City’s Abu Dhabi hierarchy during the summer after leaving Atletico Madrid at the end of last season.The former Valencia and Barcelona striker has since made four appearances on loan at Melbourne City, Abu Dhabi’s A-League outfit, in order to maintain his fitness ahead of the MLS season, which kicks off in March.
City currently have their full quota of non-English players in their squad, ensuring that a foreign player would have to be sold to recruit another overseas signing.It is understood, however, that the foreign player restriction is not a stumbling block for Villa, with Pellegrini and the City hierarchy simply not viewing the former Spain international as a target.