Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mancini to experiment in Europa clash

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini will shuffle his line up for Wednesday’s Europa League clash with Red Bull Salzburg.

It is a crucial match for City, who can seal their progression to the last 32 of the competition if they win and Juventus fail to beat Lech Poznan in Poland.

City are unbeaten in their last five games in the Premier League and beat Salzburg comfortably last time they met, with Mancini signalling his intention to rest some key players during a busy time of the season.

“We will have a strong team on the pitch but we will change some players because we are playing two games in three days and that is difficult,” Mancini said.

“You cannot play all the same players in both games.”

“Supporters are supporters – when you win they are happy, when you lose they are not, that’s normal and we must always respect their support.”

“Our job is to continue to work and improve and win for them and that is always the job. Supporters must help the team.”

The right results on Wednesday could see City secure a place in the knockout rounds and Mancini will have one eye on the other game in Group A.

“If we beat Salzburg then we will hope that Juventus lose or draw in Poznan, but we must try to win and wait to see what happens,” he said.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) is important because we have to win if we want to get into the second stage.”

Defender Pablo Zabaleta is in line for a rare start and he is confident Manchester City have the players to mount serious challenges both domestically and in Europe.

“I don’t like to compare our squad with those of other teams, we have our own ideas and different players and we focus on us,” Zabaleta said.

“We have young players and some very experienced players and that will be a great mix during the season.”

At least three members of Mancini’s expensively acquired squad will be unavailable for selection.

Wayne Bridge will not be risked after suffering a number of setbacks in his bid for regular fitness and Yaya Toure is out after complaining of migraines.

Long-term absentee Michael Johnson is nearing a return but needs a run of games in the reserves to regain match fitness.

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