Belfast Telegraph

Mancini planning without Lescott in battle for Europe

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has resigned himself to being without defender Joleon Lescott for most of the club's bid to secure Champions League football, which he believes is still a four-horse race.

Lescott has been ruled out for up to five weeks with a hamstring problem sustained in the warm-up before the 2-1 win over Fulham at the weekend.

That means he will miss tonight's clash at home to former club Everton and will more than likely still be out for games against Manchester United and Arsenal at the end of April.

“Joleon went to see a doctor in London and he said it will be four or five weeks before he can come back,” said Mancini.

City have the chance to regain fourth spot against the Toffees, a match Mancini describes as “crucial”.

But even though a win would put them five points ahead of sixth-placed Liverpool with a game in hand, he is refusing to rule out Rafael Benitez's side.

“I think Liverpool are a strong team with a good manager and I think we must fight with them, Aston Villa and Tottenham. I don't think Liverpool are out,” said the Italian.

“Everton are in good form and they work very well on the pitch and it is a crucial game for us. If we win we will have more chance (of finishing fourth).”

Everton, however, can travel in confidence having lost just two of their last 16 matches and, sitting eighth, they could yet feature in the European reckoning.

But with just eight games to go and five points to make up on seventh-placed Aston Villa, Moyes has played down that possibility.

Moyes said: “I think it is too big an ask to catch the teams above us.

“I think we would need to do really well and expect those teams to falter quite a bit.”

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