Manchester City are likely to have to cope without the services of £32 million defender Eliaquim Mangala for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow lunchtime.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini revealed the young defender is struggling with a muscle injury and is unlikely to play against Spurs, although the tough trip to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday could be a realistic comeback.
Speaking ahead of the lunchtime clash, Pellegrini told reporters: "The position about all of the players is good. We just have a small problem with Mangala. He has a small muscle injury but I think he will be fit for Tuesday [against CSKA Moscow] and able to play without a problem."
Mangala, a big money signing from Porto in the summer, had played the whole 90 minutes as France beat Portugal 2-1 in an international friendly last weekend, but was an unused sub in their most recent fixture, a 3-0 friendly win against Armenia on Tuesday.
Pellegrini will be delighted to have a near full compliment of players available to him after an international break which saw some of his players travel as far as Hong Kong.
Following a busy week for his multicultural squad, the Chilean boss said: "All the other players are okay. Of course it's not easy to say which is the best starting line-up for Saturday, with so many different players arriving at different days of the week."
"The position about all of the players is good. We just have a small problem with Mangala. He has a small muscle injury but I think he will be fit for Tuesday" - Manuel Pellegrini
One of the main concerns had been Yaya Toure, who was in action in the Ivory Coast as recently as Wednesday, but the powerful midfielder allied any fears by returning to training as early as Thursday morning.
"Yaya Toure arrived back with Aleksandar Kolarov and Matija Nastasic, others arrived on Monday and Tuesday, so we're going to see who will play on Saturday. But all of them are involved in the squad list for Saturday," added Pellegrini.
In Mangala's absence Pellegrini will likely have to decide between veteran Martin Demichelis or Matija Nastasic, who hasn't made a first team appearance since August's Community Shield.
Both travelled with their countries this week but had vastly different experiences. Argentine Demichelis watched on from the bench as his side beat Hong Kong 7-0, but Nastasic had a far more dramatic evening.
Having been named in the startling line-up for Serbia's clash with Albania he was on the pitch in Belgrade when fans rushed from the stands to clash with players and officials after an Albanian flag was flown through the stadium by a drone.
The disturbance caused the game to be abandoned after just 42minutes play, depriving the young defender of some much needed game time.
If last season is anything to go by City can probably afford to be without a defender for their game against Spurs.
When the pair met at the Etihad last time out City claimed an emphatic 6-0 victory, while the White Hart Lane fixture didn't fare much better for Spurs as they were trounced 5-1 on home soil.
However, Pellegrini doesn't expect those results to have much impact on tomorrow's fixture, he said: "I am sure it will be a different Tottenham. Last season, one of the best games we played was against Tottenham away.
"Here[at the Etihad Stadium] we also played well, but we are not expecting we can score five or six goals every time we play Tottenham."
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