Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that former Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling will start for Manchester City on Wednesday, while midfielder Yaya Toure is a doubt after picking up a knock in the Capital One Cup final.
Raheem Sterling faces a cauldron of hate when he makes his return to Anfield with Manchester City for the first time in the Premier League since signing for the Citizens in a mammoth £49 million deal in the summer.
City coach Manuel Pellegrini confirmed that the young winger will start the game and backed the England international to deal with the harsh treatment that he is likely to receive from the Liverpool supporters.
Addressing the media at his pre-match press conference, the Chilean said (via official Manchester City website): “He’s a young man, a young player starting his career, but he knows how to deal with pressure.
“He’ll receive the same treatment tomorrow as he did at the weekend, but I’m sure he can play without a problem, and he’ll be a very important player, as he was in last game. I have 100 per cent trust in Raheem. He will play tomorrow and he’ll be important.”
Meanwhile, Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure is a major doubt for the game after picking up a foot injury in the Capital One Cup final win over Liverpool. Pellegrini confirmed that the club will have a late fitness test for the 32-year-old ahead of the game.
Willy Caballero’s penalty shoot-out heroics won the cup for City, and unsurprisingly, Pellegrini was asked whether the Argentine would retain his place in the starting line-up. Pellegrini’s response was terse: “It’s a very easy decision. We’ll see tomorrow.”
Manchester City will also be without long-term absentees Kevin De Bruyne (knee), Samir Nasri (hamstring) and Fabian Delph (Achilles) for the game, making the selection of his starting lineup a fairly straight-forward task for Pellegrini.
Despite the former Malaga manager’s cryptic response, Joe Hart is expected to return to the starting line-up, and could be joined by full-backs Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta, both of whom started from the bench at Wembley.
Meanwhile, winger Jesus Navas could come in for Yaya Toure should the former Barcelona midfielder fail his pre-match fitness test.