Belfast Telegraph

Pellegrini's Man City selection dictated by long injury list

By Mark Ogden

Manuel Pellegrini insisted he had no reason to justify his decision to hand full debuts to five teenagers after Manchester City suffered a 5-1 FA Cup fifth round defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

With City facing Dynamo Kiev in a Champions League round of 16 tie in the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday, prior to a Capital One Cup final encounter with Liverpool at Wembley next Sunday, the Chilean controversially rested several first-team players against Guus Hiddink's team.

Despite the workload facing his squad, the City manager claimed his team selection was based purely on an injury crisis that had left him with just 13 fit players available for the Chelsea tie.

"I don't think I have to make a defence," said Pellegrini.

"In the two rounds before this, we played against Premier League teams and I picked very strong teams because of all the players we had available at that moment.

"One of the most important things we have to do in England is to help English teams in the Champions League and I have just 13 players available at the moment, so couldn't take the risk of playing them all.

"If I had 20 players, then maybe it would be different, but with just 13 players I couldn't take the risk that one more would get injured or that they wouldn't recover properly with a long flight on Monday

"It was the correct decision for the club."

City had lobbied the Football Association and the BBC, who screened this game, to stage this tie on Friday or Saturday, enabling them time to prepare for the Kiev fixture, but after failing to win that battle, Pellegrini claimed he had no option but to field the youngsters.

"We tried to do everything we could do change the date, but it wasn't possible," said Pellegrini.

"It's never good to lose 5-1 and I wasn't happy with the score, but I was happy with some performances.

"It's important for young players to play and they took their chance.

"Maybe it's not the best thing to put in all of them together, but I didn't have a choice with just 13 players. "

Chelsea, meanwhile, have vowed to ban for life any supporter found to have thrown coins at City's players following David Faupala's first-half equaliser.

Belfast Telegraph


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