Manuel Pellegrini is considering playing a youthful team in the FA Cup.

Manchester City smarting over Sunday date for Chelsea FA Cup clash

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Manchester City are furious following confirmation their FA Cup fifth-round tie at Chelsea will take place just three days before a crucial Champions League game in Kiev.

Press Association Sport understands the club will send a letter of complaint to senior figures at the Football Association and manager Manuel Pellegrini has threatened to field an under-strength team.

The game will be televised live by the BBC at 4pm on Sunday, February 21, after City had expressed a preference for the Saturday.

Quadruple-chasing City feel they are being penalised for their success with unnecessary fixture congestion during a critical 11-day spell in their campaign.

The tie will take place the day before Pellegrini's squad travel to Ukraine ahead of their Champions League game against Dynamo Kiev on February 24. That in turn comes just four days before the Capital One Cup final against Liverpool at Wembley, and City then face the Reds again at Anfield in the Barclays Premier League three days after that.

Senior sources at City feel the club are not being supported sufficiently by the authorities for respecting all the competitions - Pellegrini rarely fields weakened teams - and for representing the English game in Europe.

The problem in this instance arises because Chelsea's neighbours Fulham play in the Championship on Saturday, February 20 and police would be unwilling to sanction another kick-off close to that time. City thought a slot could have been found on Saturday but this was not possible.

A statement from the BBC read: "Despite continued efforts to schedule Manchester City's FA Cup fifth-round visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, conflicting fixtures and safety concerns meant this was not possible, so Sunday was the only slot available."

It is understood a Friday night game was considered but this would not have fitted with the BBC's schedule. That might also have created an issue with Chelsea, who have their own Champions League game at Paris St Germain the previous Tuesday.

The FA has not yet commented but it is understood all options were considered and, despite best efforts, a solution to the satisfaction of all parties could not be found on this occasion.

City will back Pellegrini if he carries through his threat to field a team of youngsters against Chelsea.

During his three seasons at City, the Chilean has always fielded strong sides in domestic cup matches - against the modern trend - but the club feel in this case he has little option.

Pellegrini said: "I'm very worried for a lot of things. First and foremost, if we have to play that game on that Sunday, we will not play with our (full-strength) team, we will play with a young team.

"We have to travel to Ukraine on Monday, so I don't see any reason why we can't play on the Saturday. Chelsea play their Champions League game on the Tuesday before.

"If we play on the Sunday, we have to put Manchester City's interests first. For me, I must do what I feel is best for the club, to play with the strongest team we can in the Champions League."

Pellegrini believes problems could get worse if City go even further in the FA Cup and Champions League, as more Premier League games will need to be postponed.

City already need to find a new date for a fixture against Newcastle because of the Capital One Cup final, while a replay against Chelsea might make the situation even more problematic.

Pellegrini said: "If we continue in the FA Cup, we will have to postpone two Premier League games (later in the season), and there is no option to play those games in midweek."

The BBC has also announced it will screen the tie between Bournemouth and Everton on Saturday, February 20, as well as the fourth-round replay between Peterborough and West Brom on February 10.

BT Sport will show Arsenal v Hull on Saturday 20 and Blackburn v West Ham or Liverpool the following day.

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