City can compete with Europe's elite

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Roberto Mancini claims there is no reason why Manchester City's lack of Champions League experience should count against them if they manage to qualify.

City are on course for a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League this term which will hand them the chance to take on Europe's elite in 2011-12. It would be the club's first appearance in the Champions League, but Mancini does not see that necessarily being a problem for his star-studded squad.

"When you play in the Champions League for the first time, maybe you can have problems, but when I played for Sampdoria 20 years ago we got to the final (of the old European Cup) the first time we qualified," Mancini said. "In football, never say never - anything can happen."

He added: "It is clear that we are not like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Milan or Inter, teams that have played in the Champions League for a long time. But after this year, if we do well in the Europa League, it will be a good experience and all our players play for their national teams."

Earlier this week midfielder Yaya Toure talked up City's prospects, saying he thought they could be a better team than Barcelona - his old club - in the not-too-distant future.

It is something Mancini is also prepared to believe in.


"I think we need to work more, but I hope so - why not?" the manager said. "We have big possibilities for the future because we are a strong club."

Ahead of Thursday night's Europa League last-32 second leg against Aris Salonika at Eastlands, City have been hit by the news that second-choice goalkeeper Shay Given could be out of action for three months with a shoulder injury.

However striker Mario Balotelli is fit to take on Aris - with whom City drew 0-0 in last week's first leg in Greece - while Shaun Wright-Phillips is also in contention after a back problem.

Micah Richards has picked up what appears to be a calf injury so will not feature and James Milner (hamstring), Nigel de Jong and Adam Johnson (both ankle) remain in the treatment room.

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