Manchester City Vs Blackburn Rovers, Mon 11 Jan 2010

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Football News

Patrick Vieira's Manchester City debut may be delayed as he battles to overcome a calf injury in time to face Blackburn on Monday.

Vieira picked up the problem in his last game for Inter Milan against Chievo on Wednesday and will have treatment before manager Roberto Mancini can make a final decision.

Dedryk Boyata is set to continue in central defence, while Carlos Tevez, Craig Bellamy and Gareth Barry are all expected to return.

Meanwhile, Vieira believes he is a better player now than he was when he left the Premier League four-and-a-half years ago.

The former Arsenal skipper found it difficult enough to impress Jose Mourinho in Italy, so the perceived wisdom is that he will struggle to adjust to life back in England, where the pace tends to be far higher.

But Vieira has total faith in his ability.

And he actually thinks the immense talent he had when he played under Arsene Wenger has been improved by his exposure to Serie A.

"I am a better player for the experiences I have had," said Vieira.

"You get better with experience and age and I have been really lucky to play at big clubs.

"I have learned a lot around big-name players and I have come back to the Premier League a better player than I used to be."

Blackburn Rovers

Brett Emerton is fit to return to Sam Allardyce's starting line up for the trip.

Having resumed training after recovering from a groin problem, Emerton was in line to feature in Rovers' Carling Cup semi-final against Aston Villa on Tuesday before the game was called off.

Vince Grella is currently nursing a thigh strain and will not be considered, while El-Hadji Diouf is suspended after being sent off in last Saturday's FA Cup defeat at Villa.

Allardyce thinks his Manchester City counterpart Mancini has made a point of addressing his team's defensive frailties.

City have won all three matches and conceded no goals since Mancini replaced Mark Hughes as manager at Eastlands last month.

The team lost only twice under Hughes this season and failed to score in just two matches, but through October and November they drew a remarkable seven league fixtures in a row and defeated Sunderland 4-3 in his final game in charge.

So far, Mancini has overseen league victories against Stoke and Wolves and an FA Cup win at Middlesbrough with clean sheets kept in each, and Allardyce believes the Italian will have made the task of tightening his back line an immediate priority.

"I think they are probably a little more defensive," Allardyce said.

"I think he (Mancini) has had a look and thought even though they have only lost two, they have drawn so many games because they haven't managed to keep the clean sheet.

"If they had done that they would have won more games rather than drawn them, where it's the opposite for us - we've not scored enough.

"They have always managed to score with the talent they have got but they have been a little open and lost some very important leads to end up drawing. I think he's put that right."

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Manchester City
Blackburn Rovers
Premier League

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