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Pellegrini challenges Jovetic to prove himself at City

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has admitted it was a tough decision to leave Stevan Jovetic out of his European squad and has challenged the Montenegro forward to prove himself in the Premier League.

Jovetic, 25, has been left out of the Champions League squad to accommodate new £25million signing Wilfried Bony - due to UEFA financial fair play sanctions, City are restricted to naming 16 foreign players rather than 17.

Pellegrini said: "It is always difficult to take a player out of the list, but we have restrictions this year.

"We brought Bony because I think that we need another striker, a box player, and in the position of Jovetic maybe we have some other options. It is a difficult decision but I think it was the best for the squad.

"He continues being a very important player here. Maybe if we didn't have the restriction of financial fair play, we would not do it - we would have another place.

"But we do have the restrictions, and I think he is a good professional and we will see him play in the Premier League I hope in the same way he did at the start of the season."

The City manager insisted this was not the end of the road for Jovetic at the club.

He added: "I don't think that one thing has a link with the other thing. It is very important for Stevan to try to play now until the end of the season as much games as he can and not be injured and try to have a high performance every time he plays.

"After the end of the season, we analyse not only for Stevan, for all the squad which will continue the next year."

City are five points behind leaders Chelsea, but Pellegrini believes his side are confident of repeating their last two title triumphs when they came from behind to secure the trophy, especially having emerged with a share of the points and their reputation enhanced against Jose Mourinho's team at Stamford Bridge last weekend.

"When you have to play 45 points more, you can close the gap. Of course you can do it," Pellegrini added.

City are injury-free ahead of Hull's Premier League visit today, with midfielder Samir Nasri and defender Eliaquim Mangala back in the squad.