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Pellegrini calm over Toure absence


Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, left, believes Yaya Toure, right, is fully committed to the club

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, left, believes Yaya Toure, right, is fully committed to the club

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, left, believes Yaya Toure, right, is fully committed to the club

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 just on one player."

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In terms of league action, Toure will definitely miss Sunday'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 told CNN: "I think City can compete without me to be honest with you.

"We get fantastic players and I think you've been able to see when we miss Aguero with injury, we've been able to cope without him.

"When you see we miss 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 with our team and with this team. I don't have any doubts about that."

When pressed further Pellegrini, speaking at a press conference to preview the Arsenal game, acknowledged circumstances can change but presently has no doubts and insists there is no link to last year's issues.

He said: "I don't think any of us know what will happen in six months more. We don't know where you can be, we cannot know what will happen in the future.

"But it's not a problem with his commitment. You can't link one thing with the other. I repeat, Yaya is very happy here. His commitment with our club is not a problem."

Toure has played a key role in City's development over recent years and Pellegrini is determined to maintain progress, with success in the Champions League an obvious target.

Pellegrini recently suggested his playmaker David Silva lacks the recognition he deserves because he is not at one of Europe's bigger clubs.

However, he believes winning Europe's greatest prize with City is a realistic ambition and accolades for individuals could then follow.

Asked if City could one day win the Champions League, Pellegrini said: "I think so, the way we are growing, and we will continue improving with this squad and bringing in new players. Of course, I think we have chances to continue winning important things.

"Maybe we do not have the whole history of Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester United but that is part of the reason this club tries to improve every year.

"We need to win important trophies and that way our top players will be on the list of the best players of the year.

"Our club must improve and grow every year, winning important titles."

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