Man City facing central defensive crisis ahead of Norwich FA Cup tie

Andy Hampson 05:24 09/01/2016
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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: Manuel Pellegrini, manager of Manchester City gives instructions during the Capital One Cup Semi Final First Leg match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on January 6, 2016 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Manchester City are short of central defensive options as their busy January continues with Saturday’s third-round trip to Norwich.

Eliaquim Mangala suffered a hamstring injury in City’s defeat at Everton in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final on Wednesday. The full extent of the Frenchman’s problem is still not clear but he joins captain Vincent Kompany on the sidelines, leaving Martin Demichelis and Nicolas Otamendi as City’s only fit centre-backs.

With potentially eight games in the next four weeks – if they make progress in the FA Cup – manager Manuel Pellegrini could find his resources stretched and other players, such as right-back Bacary Sagna, may need to play centrally.

Pellegrini said: “We will see tomorrow the 11 starters but Bacary is an option to play as a centre-back. He has done it before and he likes to play in that position.

“He is an important option, especially now that Pablo Zabaleta has recovered from his injury and will start playing.”

Signing cover during the January transfer window is an option but Pellegrini says that is unlikely. The Chilean, who added that he won’t be rushing Kompany back, said: “For the moment, we continue with the same squad. I trust a lot in them and in the first four months of the season we could do it, so I think we can finish that way also.”

Norwich boss Alex Neil has no fresh injury concerns and while new signing Ivo Pinto is eligible for the match after completing his move to the Carrow Road club from Dinamo Zagreb on Friday, he will not feature having last played on December 9.

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