Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is sweating on the fitness of both David Silva and Yaya Toure ahead of a crucial Premier League clash against Manchester United.
Silva & Toure, who both earn £200,000-a-week at the Etihad, limped out of Manchester City's disappointing 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup fourth round. Goals from Rolando Aarons and Moussa Sissoko served to place more pressure on Pellegrini, making victory against the Red Devils pivotal.
Having lost to West Ham United last weekend, another defeat at the hands of Louis van Gaal's team would leave City without a win in any one of their last four games in all competitions. It would also likely leave them with a formidable gap to bridge between themselves and league leaders Chelsea.
Pellegrini is, understandably, under increasing pressure at Manchester City and his task has been made no easier with the news that Silva and Toure are struggling for fitness. Both are considered key players in the heart of midfield and their absence will be significant.
"I don't know if it is the worst performance of our team but we've had three games in a week and they have been very similar"
Manchester City currently sit six points behind Chelsea, who will play in their own derby this weekend. They entertain QPR on Saturday and are heavy favourites to come out of the game with three points.
- Rooney set to feature against Manchester City
- Rooney a doubt for Manchester City clash
- Mata must be dropped for Manchester City clash
A loss for the Citizens would, therefore, likely leave them nine points behind Jose Mourinho's men, virtually handing their Premier League title over before the turn of the new year as a result.
Pellegrini spoke of a "lack of trust and confidence" among his players.
"We must address this as soon as possible," the Chilean told reporters. "We will try to react as soon as we can."
"I don't know if it is the worst performance of our team but we've had three games in a week and they have been very similar – we conceded two goals in each too easily and had a lot of chances in the three games to score and didn't so it's a difficult moment."
Regardless of whether Toure and Silva are fit, Manchester United will still travel to the Etihad as underdogs. Van Gaal has had a slow start to life at Old Trafford, but the team's fortunes are improving.
Wayne Rooney is set to return from a suspension but Radamel Falcao and Phil Jones are both struggling with respective injuries. Manchester United will have to avoid defeat if they want to keep pace with the top four.