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Aguero's Cup aim

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SERGIO AGUERO is hoping to return to training with Manchester City next week, which could see him back in time for the League Cup final.

The Argentina striker, who has scored 26 goals in 25 appearances for City this season, has been sidelined since the end of January with a hamstring injury.

"Feeling very good about my last week of recovery work," Aguero tweeted. "If I keep it up next week I'll train with the team!"

That would suggest tomorrow's Premier League meeting with Stoke is too soon, but Aguero could be fit in time to face Sunderland at Wembley on Sunday March 2.

Aguero's boss, Manuel Pellegrini, could face action from UEFA over his comments following their 2-0 Champions League defeat by Barcelona after the European governing body launched an investigation into his remarks.

Pellegrini strongly criticised Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson and appeared to question his impartiality after a match which turned on the decision to award Barca a penalty and send off City defender Martin Demichelis in the 54th minute.

"UEFA has mandated a disciplinary inspector to commence an investigation concerning the press interviews given by the Manchester City FC head coach Manuel Luis Pellegrini to media after the above-mentioned match," a UEFA statement said. "Based on the outcome of this investigation, a decision will be taken on whether disciplinary proceedings will be opened."

Speaking after Tuesday night's match, Pellegrini said: "From the beginning I felt the referee was not impartial to both teams.

"I think it was not a good idea to put a referee from Sweden in charge of such an important match, especially a referee who has made an important mistake against Barcelona in a previous match.

"(It's) more important football in Europe than Sweden. A big game with two important teams, that kind of game needs a referee with more experience."

Eriksson has been selected by FIFA to referee at the World Cup finals in Brazil this summer, and the world governing body's referees chief has already dismissed Pellegrini's comments.

"I read the remarks that were made by the Manchester City manager," said Jim Boyce, a FIFA vice-president from Northern Ireland.

"I saw the game and my own personal opinion is that I thought the referee had a good game.

"He is a very experienced referee who has been chosen for the World Cup because of excellent reports of his performances in Europe."

Demichelis was sent off for a foul on Lionel Messi when the Argentinian forward was through on goal.

Replays suggest the incident was just outside the box, but a penalty was awarded which Messi scored. Barca then grabbed a late, and potentially decisive, second goal late in the game through Dani Alves.

While his manager let rip in the post-match press conference, Demichelis has admitted he cannot blame Eriksson for awarding a penalty. "I tackled him (Messi) because we were still outside the box," the veteran defender said.

"But I don't blame the referee. It happened all too fast. I have seen the moment again on TV and think 'why did I have to tackle him and not keep running by his side?'

"I was sure I would get the ball when I made the tackle. And then you think that you will steal the ball from Messi, you realise that you don't. But I made the foul."

City's slim hopes of progression have been further complicated after it was confirmed their FA Cup quarter-final against holders Wigan will kick off at 4pm on Sunday, March 9, just three days ahead of the return leg at the Nou Camp.

Even programme host BT recognises its scheduling is tight for City, stating the game "will fall just days before ... the crucial second leg" with the Spanish champions.

However, with interest high in what is a re-run of last year's final – won 1-0 by Wigan – they wanted the match for a prime-time slot.

Following a clash at home to Stoke this Saturday, City do not face another league game for three weeks as their cup commitments kick in.


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