Belfast Telegraph

Monk rules out Michu recall

Swansea manager Garry Monk has ruled out recalling Michu to fill the gap which will be left by Wilfried Bony's participation in the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Bony's Ivory Coast qualified for the tournament to be held in Equatorial Guinea in January and February with a goalless draw against Cameroon, the game ending amid riotous scenes in Abidjan as supporters reacted angrily to both sides tamely settling for the draw which secured their finals place.

Ivory Coast's qualification means Bony - who signed a one-year contract extension on Wednesday which will keep him at the Liberty Stadium until June 2018 - could be absent for as many as six Swansea games in the new year.

The 25-year-old could miss Barclays Premier League games against West Ham, Chelsea, Southampton, Sunderland and West Brom as well as a potential FA Cup fourth round tie, and Monk admitted Ivory Coast's qualification for the finals was "bittersweet" for Swansea.

Monk said while he was happy for the player reaching a major tournament for his country it meant Swansea had to seek striking cover, but he dismissed that being Spanish forward Michu who is currently on loan from the Welsh club at Napoli.

Michu scored 22 goals in his first season at Swansea but made little impact in an injury-disrupted second campaign last term and the player's frustration has continued in Italy.

The 28-year-old has made only five appearances for the Serie A club, has failed to play a full 90 minutes and has yet to score for Rafa Benitez's side - and Monk has ruled out a January return to Swansea for a player again blighted by injury this season.

"Michu is on loan at Napoli for the season," Monk said.

"I'm not even thinking about that (Michu returning), I've not even checked the details of the loan.

"Obviously Ivory Coast's qualification dictates what you do in terms of January.

"We may have to go into the loan market or do something to cover it.

"We've already been looking at all the positions but now Bony has qualified a striker is the position we do now have to cover.

"We could promote from within, but it is likely to be a loan.

"It might be a loan with a view to a permanent (move) or to next season, or just for a month.

"We don't know but we will look at all the options."

Swansea have won two and drawn one of their last three Barclays Premier League games to climb into the top five and head to Manchester City on Saturday buoyed by their comeback victory over Arsenal before the international break.

But Monk insists he is not looking too far ahead and dismisses talk of a possible top-six finish.

"We just focus on the next game because if you look too far ahead you lose track of what you're doing," Monk said.

"We're just looking at Man City and giving that 100 per cent commitment. Who knows if we can stay in the top six.

"You obviously look at the tables but my focus is on attacking every game as best we can.

"We want to get the best performances and hopefully that will get us enough points to stay in the top half of the table and see where that takes us.

"We're realistic and teams below us are very powerful financially, but all I care is we compete against these teams and we're competing so far."

Swansea will be without Federico Fernandez at the Etihad Stadium with a calf injury preventing the Argentina central defender from marking his international team-mate Sergio Aguero.

But Monk admits he is delighted to have welcomed Leon Britton back into his squad, the long-serving midfielder having finally ended his season-long absence from knee trouble with a late cameo appearance against Arsenal two weeks ago.

"In my time Leon has been the most influential player at this club on and off the pitch," Monk said.

"He's a quiet guy who just gets on with it, the kind of player young players should aspire to be.

"When he speaks everyone listens and it's then you know you've got someone special on your hands.

"But he has to earn his place just like the rest of them because, as much as I talk about how good he is, you don't spend three-and-a half months out and expect to just walk back into the side.

"Leon is realistic enough to know that. He's going to have to earn the right to play and force his way back into the team."

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