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Pablo fighting to be fit for Wigan

Pablo Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta

City will shortly get the chance to assess the extent of Pablo Zabaleta's hamstring injury after the defender was forced to return early from international duty.

The 24-year-old strained a hamstring towards the end of last Monday's draw with Aston Villa but did join his national squad ahead of a vital pair of World Cup qualifying games.

Pablo has not featured at international level since winning an Olympic gold medal in Beijing shortly before his move to City from Espanyol. His bad luck has not only denied him the chance to help his country, but according to City manager Mark Hughes he may now be fighting to be fit for the game against Wigan in just over a week's time.

"Pablo is coming back this evening," said Hughes, "he's been with the Argentinian FA who have checked him out, as after the game last Monday he said that he had felt something with the last kick of the game. He'd felt a slight strain in the hamstring, but he needed to travel to Argentina to get it verified.

"It's a disappointment for him. Argentina have two crucial games and he wanted to be part of that, but it wasn't to be. He's played very well of late and that was flagged to the powers that be in Argentina. It would have been great for him to get the recognition for his good form, but it is unfortunate that he's going to miss out.

"He'll be back today and once we get him scanned hopefully it will not be as bad as feared at the moment, but as it stands you have to say that there is a real doubt that he would be available for our game at the weekend."

Another City player forced out of international commitments due to injury is Kolo Toure, who would have featured for the Ivory Coast against Malawi. However, another knock sustained late in our last game has, as the manager explained, kept the Blues skipper back at the Carrington training ground.

Hughes continued: "Kolo got a really bad bang on the heel pad of his right leg which was very sore immediately after the game. He was checked out and it was felt that it was not advisable for him to join up with his country. He would probably not have been able to train and would have been touch-and-go for the game.

"He's been kept back and has had treatment. The hope is that he'll be OK, but we'll have to see how it settles down over the next few days.

"These injuries happened right at the death," Hughes added, “you're always susceptible to those types of injuries in high-intensity games. Pablo's not played that many games, and there is always a danger that this kind of thing might happen to someone who, like Pablo, has not played as much as others."

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