Belfast Telegraph

Manuel Pellegrini says there is no rift with Vincent Kompany

By Andy Hampson

Manuel Pellegrini has dismissed suggestions he is punishing Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany for playing for Belgium.

Kompany has been on the bench for both City games since Pellegrini expressed frustration that the defender played for his country in a Euro 2016 qualifier last week.

The 29-year-old had missed City's previous five games with a calf injury and Pellegrini had insisted he would not be fit to play during the international break.

That proved not to be the case and Pellegrini consequently left him out of the starting line-up for games against Bournemouth last weekend and Sevilla in midweek. He has still offered no guarantees that the influential skipper will return for the Premier League leaders' derby clash with Manchester United tomorrow.

But Pellegrini said: "I don't have any problem with Vincent Kompany. I need to choose the XI every week that I think is the best for that game and when the others play they must wait.

"I'm not punishing Vincent and I don't have any problems in the relationship with Vincent.

"I think that after one month or five weeks without playing and without training you must be fit and you are not ready to play an important game. It's important to work some days before he returns to the team."

Kompany did appear as an injury-time substitute in the Champions League win over Sevilla on Wednesday. His late introduction led to some confusion as captain for the night Yaya Toure offered him the armband only for Pellegrini to stop him.

Pellegrini claims his actions have been misinterpreted by some and he was not trying to deny Kompany the captaincy, but tell Toure that he was not being substituted.

Pellegrini said: "The only thing I thought was that Yaya was changing his armband because (he thought) he was leaving the pitch, but it was not Yaya, it was (Kevin) De Bruyne."

For his part, Kompany is confident of hitting the ground running when he does return to the team.

Kompant said: "Every game I have played so far this season has been really good so I wanted to keep that going, so an injury is never a nice thing to happen.

"I came back against Israel and it was fine and I felt good and was able to produce the same level of performance again. It just has to carry on."

Tony Pulis believes the Football Association were right not to punish James McClean for the way he celebrated West Brom's win against Sunderland last weekend.

But the Baggies head coach has urged the Londonderry man to be more careful about keeping his emotions in check.

The 26-year-old escaped with a warning from the FA.

"I think the FA have done the right thing," said Pulis, whose team face Norwich at Carrow Road today.

"I've had a chat with him. I think you've got to be careful what you do today. He was taking stick all game but doing that to the supporters... he's just got to be careful.

"I just think it was a celebration because we'd won a game of football. His first celebration was towards our supporters, he saluted our supporters, and then he turned to the away fans. I think doing that in front of the Sunderland supporters... he's just got to be careful.

"He's a great lad whose integrated fantastically into the group.

"I think he was just absolutely delighted that we'd won. It was against his old club, which gives it added spice, but he's got to be cool and calm and hold himself back at times."

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