Mancini defends Hargreaves omission

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Roberto Mancini has defended his decision not to include Owen Hargreaves in his Champions League squad.

The Manchester City boss picked Hargreaves up for nothing on the penultimate day of the transfer window. At the time, it appeared Mancini was taking a chance, but the move looks to have paid off after Hargreaves' goalscoring contribution to Wednesday night's 2-0 Carling Cup triumph over holders Birmingham at the Etihad Stadium.

It will not earn the 30-year-old an emotional trip back to Bayern Munich next week for City's latest Champions League adventure as Hargreaves was not included when Mancini submitted his 25-man squad. "We didn't know what his condition would be when we had to decide," said Mancini.

"It was difficult. It is possible we could bring him in during January. He hasn't had any problems in the last three weeks. At the moment his knee is fine. We said before the match we would give him between 45 and 60 minutes. As it turned out, he was okay for 60.

"But he has only played 60 minutes. Now it is important that he recovers properly because he can be good for us and England. After so long out, I don't think it was easy for him before the game. But he worked well and scored a fantastic goal."

Mario Balotelli added a second before half-time and with Birmingham offering only a very limited threat, City were able to coast home. It was a good night all round for City as Kolo Toure was named skipper as he played his first game since completing a six-month ban for a failed drugs test.

"I am happy for him too," said Mancini. "It was the correct decision to choose him as captain."

Birmingham boss Chris Hughton was disappointed with his side's performance, even though, with an arduous Championship campaign in front of them, plus the distraction of Europe, it is a tournament they can do without.

"We are a bit different to Manchester City," said Hughton, who made seven changes from the weekend compared to Mancini's 11.

"We have to manage our squad the best way we can. It was good to get Nikola Zigic back on the field for 13 minutes because he has missed an awful lot of football."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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European News
Manchester City
Nikola Zigic
League Cup
Premier League
Kolo Toure
UEFA Champions League
Mario Balotelli
Owen Hargreaves

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