Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has defended Wilfried Bony as the striker prepares to make his first return to former club Swansea City on Sunday.
Injuries have hampered the Ivory Coast international since his big-money move from Swansea to the Etihad Stadium in January and Bony has scored one goal for City, making just two Premier League starts.
That is in stark contrast to his return of nine goals from 20 league games for Swansea – which included one at City in the reverse fixture – in the first half of the season prior to his transfer.
Some Swansea supporters may question Bony’s decision to leave when he appears at the Liberty Stadium with City for the first time, but Pellegrini insists he will be given more time to establish himself at the club.
“It’s important to have this clear – we didn’t bring Bony just for this year,” said Pellegrini.
“We bought him because he’s a very good player, an important striker.
“Maybe it was a difficult start for him here mainly because of his injury. Maybe he’s not playing the amount of minutes he must play but I’m sure he’ll be a very important player next season.”
Bony was given half an hour as a substitute in City’s 6-0 rout of QPR last Sunday and is likely to remain on the bench for the trip to Swansea, with Pellegrini set to name an unchanged side.
A fitness test could rule Samir Nasri out, but Pellegrini has every reason to be confident of a result that will all but seal second place in the Premier League for his side.
He said: “The most important thing is always to win the title but if you can’t win the title then it is important to try to finish second.
“We want to finish as near the top of the table as we can.”
He added: “It is important for all of the big teams to win the title and if not win the title then qualify for the Champions League and get the most amount of points you can.
“We have had the pressure for the whole year and we played very well in December. We were at the top of the table and we had qualified for the next stage of the Champions League.”
Pellegrini had warm words for his opposite number Garry Monk, who may be without Angel Rangel, Kyle Naughton, Wayne Routledge and Tom Carroll as his side look to finish a respectable season on a high.
Bafetimbi Gomis scored a late winner to give Swansea a 1-0 victory at Arsenal in their last outing, completing an impressive sequence of three consecutive Premier League wins for Monk’s side.
“Swansea play good football, so it’s no surprise that they’re high in the table,” said Pellegrini. “Garry Monk sees football in the right way.
“I spoke with Garry when he came here. We won the game [2-1] but I told him after the game that they are a very good team.”
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