Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has heaped praise on young centre-back Matija Nastasic, who has become a permanent fixture in City’s back-line following the injury troubles of club captain Vincent Kompany.

 Following last night’s narrow 1-0 victory over Aston Villa, City have accumulated nine clean sheets in 11 matches so far in 2013, with Nastasic a prominent figure in this run.

 “We don’t have Vinnie (Kompany) at the moment and he’s very important to us but Matija is playing very, very well at the moment," Mancini told the official club website post-match.

 “He’s young and he probably needs to improve – he needs to learn the Premier League more but I’m very happy with his performance tonight and in the last game." 

 Club captain Kompany, who has voted the Barclays Player of the Season last year as he led City to their first ever Premier League title, has been out of action since injuring his calf in the 1-0 FA Cup win away at Stoke on the 26th of January.

 Mancini went on to confirm: “Vinnie will be back for either the FA Cup game against Barnsley or against Everton the week after.”

 Although a player of Kompany’s quality is invaluable to the side, he will face a test to get back in ahead of the impressive recent partnership of Nastasic and Kolo Toure which has really flourished in helping City to keep successive clean sheets in the last three games.

 City will need to keep their defensive solidarity up if they are to have any chance in successfully gunning down Manchester United’s 12-point advantage at the top of the table. 



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