Pizarro set for debut as door left open for Tevez
Roberto Mancini insists he is not unduly concerned by Manchester City's poor run of form and claimed that his side will win the Premier League if they emerge from their difficult patch.
Mancini was highly critical of his players after Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Everton, but said that there was no pressure on them as they prepare to take on Fulham at the Etihad Stadium in today's evening kick-off.
"We knew we would have a difficult moment in January, losing players to the Africa Cup of Nations, and I said that if we are still top after January, we will win the title," Mancini said. "We don't have any reason to have pressure."
Despite winning just five of their last 12 games in all competitions, City still lead Manchester United on goal difference, and have brought in Chilean midfielder David Pizarro on loan from Roma to bolster their midfield options.
The 32-year-old could make his debut today.
Pizarro, a deep-lying playmaker who can also orchestrate the midfield from further forward, played under Mancini at Inter Milan when they won Serie A in 2006, and said Mancini's experience of title run-ins would prove invaluable in getting City across the line this season.
"He has belief and leadership," Pizarro said. "Inter didn't win things, then Mancini changed things, and Inter went on to win things. His personality, his strength in leading important players in the Italian league and in Europe give him experience in an important context for Manchester City."
The diminutive Pizarro is aware that he will not be given as much time to display his wide range of passing in England as he was allowed in Serie A.
"I know the league in England is going to be different to Italy," he said.
"But I have a lot of experience at the highest level and while I know I need to adapt very quickly, I am confident I can."
Mancini said: "I know the player, and he could be useful for us. He can play in Yaya (Toure's) position or (Gareth) Barry's."
The Italian also left the door open for Carlos Tevez to return to the City team this season if the striker proves his fitness and apologises to his team-mates for his behaviour.
"He must apologise, and he knows this," Mancini said. "I told him this when I visited his house a week after Munich. He is not an option at the moment but it is possible in the future if he comes back.
"I hope he has been training in the last three months to help his condition. If he comes back, and he is fit, it is possible."
Pizarro has been named in City's 25-man squad for the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Tevez has not, and nor has Owen Hargreaves, although Mancini said he was still hopeful that the injury-plagued former England midfielder could still feature this season.
"Like any player who hasn't played for two years, when they start to train, every day there is a problem," Mancini said. "I hope eventually he is able to play all the time. He will try to play this season." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Manchester City v Fulham,
Live, ESPN, 5.30