Belfast Telegraph

City's quality not lost on Warnock

Neil Warnock concedes he will be taking Crystal Palace to face a Manchester City side starting to fire on all cylinders - but insists his players will not simply roll over.

The Eagles face reigning Barclays Premier League champions City at the Etihad Stadium in Saturday's early kick-off looking for their first win in almost a month - with the Londoners just one point clear of the relegation zone.

That last victory came over Liverpool, who ran City close in the title race last season, and Warnock - who also rubbished reports linking Palace with Ashley Cole - wants his players to show what they are made of and upset the odds.

Manuel Pellegrini's side are without a number of key individuals - with captain Vincent Kompany and top goalscorer Sergio Aguero amongst a clutch of players ruled out through injury but, despite their fitness worries, Warnock knows his side have to be at their best to spring a shock.

"They are just hitting their form," he said.

"It is always difficult to go to the Etihad, they play some wonderful football but we have been playing well so we do not go there with any fear, but we realise we have got to be on top of our game to come away with anything. We know our goalkeeper and our back four have got to play well and we have got to create chances.

"(Sergio) Aguero is as good as anything, him and (Chelsea striker) Diego Costa are probably the best two in the Premier League. But if they wanted to give me Samir Nasri and David Silva I would take them tomorrow.

"I think they are as good as anybody in the country, those two, the difference between the top clubs and everyone at the bottom end is that every player in the 25 is a top international player who can play in several positions.

"We have got to know what we are doing and be on top of our game - we have done that well recently but we step it up another gear now. We did well at Swansea and Tottenham but now this is another challenge. We are going to the most difficult place, along with Stamford Bridge, so it is a good challenge for us."

Palace also have some concerning knocks, with Marouane Chamakh definitely ruled out of the fixture, and Warnock has long-said that he is waiting for the January transfer window.

But one player who will not be moving to Selhurst Park is Roma left-back Cole - with the 33-year-old ex-England international linked with a return to the club he joined on loan in 1999.

"No, we won't," Warnock replied when asked if the former Arsenal and Chelsea man would be signing on loan in the new year.

"I was asked the question 'would I like Ashley Cole' and I said: 'Yes, I would love him', but we have already been told that there is no way he is coming back to England. He is enjoying himself over there - he is enjoying living there, so the answer is no.

"I do not think there is any chance whatsoever. The facts are that he is not going to leave Italy for a year. He is loving it there. He walks about in the town without getting recognised. The press are not shoving cameras in his face, so he is loving it."

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