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Mancini to maintain City tradition by blooding bright young players

Roberto Mancini is intent on maintaining Manchester City's tradition of giving bright, young players a chance.

Dedryck Boyata, Abdu Ibrahim and Greg Cunningham are the latest batch to come off the production line.

They are following in the footsteps of Stephen Ireland, Micah Richards, Nedum Onuoha and Michael Johnson, who have all come through the ranks.

Boyata played in both Carling Cup semi-final matches against Manchester United after catching Mancini's eye.

Even though Wayne Rooney secured a dramatic stoppage-time winner for the holders, Boyata had reason to be satisfied with his displays.

Ibrahim and Cunningham are also making good progress and helped City defeat Championship side Scunthorpe in the FA Cup.

Italian boss Mancini said: "Boyata played against Rooney and Ryan Giggs and did well in both games. I am happy for these young players -- they are very talented. I hope they continue to train well and improve.



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"They have a chance but it is important they keep their feet on the ground and work hard."

City are looking to bounce back from their Carling Cup exit tomorrow when they entertain Portsmouth.

The loss to their local rivals threw the spotlight back on chief executive Garry Cook. After winning the first leg he boasted to supporters in a New York bar the tie was as good as over and City would go on to become the biggest and best club in the world.

Cook was certainly wrong on the first count, but the club have condemned a report claiming the owners will give serious thought to his position at the end of the season.

A City spokesperson said: "This is an isolated and ill-informed piece of speculation, which is completely without foundation."

While City have riches at their disposal, Portsmouth are at the opposite end of the scale with serious financial problems.

Mancini, however, is only concerned about getting back on track and staking a claim for a top-four place.



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He said: "We think we are a strong team. Okay we lost to United but that is football. We played well."

Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure will be available after returning from the African Nations Cup.

However, former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira remains sidelined with a calf injury, but could face Hull next week.

Returning Portsmouth midfielder Jamie O'Hara, meanwhile, has not given up hope of keeping the club in the Premier League.

The Tottenham man has been allowed to re-join the Fratton Park outfit for the rest of the season after Pompey's transfer ban was lifted.

O'Hara's comeback is a welcome ray of light for manager Avram Grant, who is expected to lose defender Younes Kaboul and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to Spurs.

O'Hara said: "I still think we can do it (stay up), otherwise I wouldn't have come back. "It might take me a couple of games to get back to full match fitness because I haven't been playing at Spurs.

"But I've only missed two Premier League games for Pompey and I'm hoping to carry on where I left off."

MANCHESTER CITY v PORTSMOUTH, LIVE TOMORROW, SKY SP 1 (KO 1.30)


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