Sunday 17 December 2017

Mellowed Moyes leaves door ajar for return of City outcast Lescott

Peter Ferguson and Mark Ogden

Everton manager David Moyes has left the door open for the return of England defender Joleon Lescott, whose controversial departure to Manchester City three years ago left a bitter taste at Goodison Park.

Lescott, who became a mainstay of Everton's team after a transfer from Wolves, eventually joined City for £22m in August 2009 following two public offers that were turned down along with the rejection of Lescott's written transfer request.

Everton, however, will not face their former team-mate at the Etihad Stadium today. Despite playing 31 league games during last season's title campaign, Lescott (30) has lost his place in Roberto Mancini's team to 19-year-old Serbian Matija Nastasic.

Moyes, who has said a lack of funds will restrict him to loan signings in the January window, said: "If Joleon wanted to come back – if I thought we needed him – I'd be delighted to have him back. If he was available then I think he'd be someone I would maybe show an interest in."

Moyes dropped Lescott from his squad prior to his exit, citing the player's "bad attitude" and claiming that his head had been turned by City's public courtship, but he has mellowed in his view of the move.

He said: "When Joleon left, Everton were in a different place to where we are now. So I can understand why he wanted to go, there was a big project going on at Manchester City. It was still disappointing for me."

Mancini is under pressure to salvage a place in the Europa League from City's failed Champions League campaign, with the club's Abu Dhabi regime determined to ensure European football in the second half of the season.

City, who today will be defending their unbeaten start to the league season and a run of 36 games without defeat on home turf in the Premier League, must beat already-qualified Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday and hope that Ajax lose to Real Madrid in the Bernabeu to claim a place in the Europa League knockout stages.

With the City hierarchy mindful of the prestige that comes with performing on the European stage, plus the opportunity to boost the club's co-efficient ranking and standing among the continent's elite, Mancini admits that the advantages of playing in the Europa League outweigh the disadvantages.

"Yes, we want to be in the Europa League," Mancini said. "It is another trophy to try to win."

With City needing to win in Dortmund, Mancini is likely to eschew the opportunity to rest key players ahead of tomorrow week's Manchester derby at the Etihad.

But the Italian admits there is a desire to make amends for the poor Champions League performances, which have led to the club failing to progress beyond the group stage for the second successive season.

"The chairman (Khaldon al-Mubarak) is happy with the way we are going in the Premier League, and we have the FA Cup to come," Mancini said. "But obviously they (Abu Dhabi) are so disappointed about the Champions League.

"We didn't do well and I think they are disappointed, but they understand it takes time to succeed in the Champions League.

"Last season, for instance, Borussia Dortmund went out at the group stage with only four points, but this season they are looking like one of the teams who can win the competition."

Mancini, who confirmed that midfielder James Milner faces a battle to be fit for the United game after injuring a hamstring in the midweek victory at Wigan, has not tasted a Premier League defeat at the Etihad since Everton's 2-1 triumph in December 2010. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Manchester City v Everton

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