Tuesday 22 May 2018

Manuel Pellegrini puts City's interests first in Vincent Kompany fitness battle

Manchester City continue to wait on the fitness of captain Vincent Kompany
Manchester City continue to wait on the fitness of captain Vincent Kompany

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini does not care what Belgium think with regards to captain Vincent Kompany's comeback.

City's influential skipper remains on the sidelines with the calf-related problem suffered in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Dynamo Kiev on March 15.

The 29-year-old was initially ruled out for a month by Pellegrini but Belgium coach Marc Wilmots went further, suggesting he could be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

Pellegrini has not differed from his original timescale and, even though odds would seem against Kompany being fit for Tuesday's decisive quarter-final second leg with Paris Saint-Germain, it has not been discounted.

That could potentially bring Pellegrini into conflict with Wilmots once again, with club and country having clashed over Kompany's fitness last October.

On that occasion Kompany returned from injury to play against Pellegrini's wishes in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Israel and the City manager does not seem minded to do Belgium any favours now.

Asked if Belgium's needs affected his thinking, Pellegrini said at a press conference: "No, I am not concerned about their opinion."

On the general matter of Kompany's fitness, Pellegrini was vague but such is the player's importance he could yet return for the visit of PSG.

Pellegrini said: "I am not thinking about that. I am just seeing how he is improving in every work that he is doing.

"He's not working with the squad for the moment, so we will see next week how many days more he needs. I am always positive."

City have given themselves a fighting chance of reaching the last four for the first time having earned a 2-2 draw with the French champions at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.

But Pellegrini insists he is trying not to think about that yet with a testing visit from West Brom in the Barclays Premier League to negotiate first. Fourth-placed City are just a point above rivals Manchester United in the battle for next season's Champions League places.

Pellegrini said: "It's a big game but it's also a big game at home to West Brom, especially with all the teams that are involved around playing each other. Arsenal play West Ham and Tottenham play Manchester United, so it is very important not to drop points here at home and I think that is the mentality of our players."

Playmaker David Silva is to miss the game with a "small problem" in his ankle but midfielder Yaya Toure is back in contention after a knee problem.

Pellegrini is demanding the same focus on domestic matters his side showed last week as they thrashed Bournemouth 4-0.

He said: "Last weekend everyone could have been thinking about the Champions League but we were focused on that game and I think the team played very well. That was important for the trust and tomorrow is exactly the same."

Pellegrini is leaving City at the end of the season to make way for Pep Guardiola but remains unwilling to discuss his future, despite recent links with the vacancy at Valencia.

He said: "I said around February 1 I will decide at the end of the season. At this moment I am not thinking or having conversations with anyone, so the speculation can continue."

Press Association

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