Aguero still missing for City
Published 04/04/2014 | 17:57
Sergio Aguero has been ruled out of title-chasing Manchester City's Barclays Premier League clash with Southampton this weekend.
The Argentina striker, City's top scorer this season with 26 goals, has returned to training after missing four games with a hamstring injury but is not yet match fit.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini had previously expressed hope the 25-year-old might be ready for Saints' visit to the Etihad Stadium, but next week's trip to title rivals Liverpool is now the target.
Pellegrini said: "Sergio is okay. He has worked just now with the squad but he just started on Thursday, so he needs more work to be 100 per cent fit.
"He is not in the squad but he doesn't have any problems with his injury.
"For this week it is too soon for him to start playing because he just worked two days, but next week against Liverpool he will not have any problems."
City are also still without defender Matija Nastasic, who suffered a knee injury two months ago.
Pellegrini, speaking at a press conference to preview the Southampton match, was unwilling to confirm reports new contract talks have begun with midfielder Samir Nasri.
The Chilean said: "We are just thinking about this match we have to play against Southampton.
"All the other things - you are always talking and thinking and working - but in this moment it is not the most important thing."
City head into the game third in the table, trailing leaders Liverpool by four points but with two games in hand and Pellegrini feels his side are well placed to strike for the title.
Liverpool's charge to the top of the table has commanded plenty of attention in the battle for the Premier League crown over the past week, with the in-form Merseysiders having won eight in succession.
Pellegrini said: ''They are playing very well. They are making (it through) the second round (of fixtures) with a lot of points.
''They won the last eight games in a row, it is not easy what they are doing. The important thing to consider is, that Liverpool are doing very well but if we win our two matches we are two points on top of Liverpool. So, I think we are also doing very well.''
Yet Pellegrini is well aware that his side must take advantage of their games in hand, while they also travel to Anfield next week for what will be an eagerly-anticipated fixture.
Chelsea also remain in the thick of the contest, just two points behind Liverpool, while Pellegrini does not think fourth-placed Arsenal should be discounted either.
The Chilean said: ''It is exactly the same as one month ago, or three weeks ago, with four teams fighting for the title.
''We have had two matches postponed, we don't have those six points, we have to win them. If we can win those matches maybe we can (still) be at the top of the table but at the moment we are behind Liverpool and behind Chelsea.
''Then it is our team and Arsenal. The four teams have chances to win the title. I think it will be very close to the end.''
Pellegrini's immediate priority is the visit of eighth-placed Southampton, who have earned many plaudits for their positive football this season.
The City boss is wary of the threat Mauricio Pochettino's side carry.
''Yes, of course,'' he said. 'They are a very good team.
''They are playing without pressure, they are in a comfortable situation in the table. They cannot arrive in Europe, they cannot be relegated, they have very good players and a very good manager.
''We are absolutely sure we are going to have a tough game on Saturday.''
Victor Wanyama will be assessed by Southampton and could return, with the Kenyan midfielder having been absent for nearly a month with a leg injury.
Wanyama is expected to be the only progress on the injury front, meaning Nathaniel Clyne (groin), Kelvin Davis (hip) and Maya Yoshida (knee) will all miss out.