Belfast Telegraph

Manuel Pellegrini: Manchester City can overcome Yaya Toure absence

By Andy Hampson

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is confident his side can overcome the absence of midfield driving force Yaya Toure.

City will be without the influential Toure for up to another four weeks due to his involvement in the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast.

Toure was sorely missed during the tournaments of 2012 and 2013 and, although he has not been at his formidable best this season, his recent form has been good.

Following last week's draw with Everton - the first match of Toure's absence - City have actually not won in the Barclays Premier League without the former Barcelona player since last April.

Toure was rested when City were surprisingly held by Burnley on December 28 and also when they drew at Arsenal in September.

Pellegrini said: "Of course we are going to miss Yaya because he is a very important player - in the same way that we miss Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, David Silva, or all the players that for different reasons cannot play every week.

"But we have a squad and we have to replace Yaya. We must continue fighting for the title with or without Yaya. We have to play two more games without Yaya and he will arrive here in February. I don't think our team depends on just one player."

In terms of league action, Toure will definitely miss tomorrow's return clash against Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium and the January 31 trip to title rivals Chelsea.

City have coped without the 31-year-old before, most recently in the Champions League when he missed the vital wins over Bayern Munich and Roma in November and December through suspension.

Toure himself is confident City can come through the spell.

Speaking in an interview while on international duty, Toure said: "I think City can compete without me to be honest with you.

"We've got fantastic players and you've been able to see when Aguero was injured, we've been able to cope without him.

"When we've been missing (Vincent) Kompany we've been able to cope without him, but at the moment I think we're in good shape."

In the same interview, however, Toure did give further mixed messages about his future.

Toure sparked considerable speculation over his status at City during an unsettled last summer when he voiced criticisms of the club amid the notorious birthday cake saga.

He again cast doubt over his position when asked if he would still be at Eastlands next season.

"I don't know. I'm at City at the moment," he said, before laughing.

It is not the first time Toure has been vague on the subject but Pellegrini has no concerns about it.

The Chilean said: "I think Yaya is 100 per cent committed. I don't have any doubts about that.

"There is no problem with his commitment to us. I repeat, Yaya is very happy here. His commitment with our club is not a problem."

Belfast Telegraph


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