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Vieira in fight to face Blackburn

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Roberto Mancini welcomed Patrick Vieira to his City squad today - and then revealed that he fears the Blues' injury crisis might claim the World Cup-winning midfielder straight away.

New boss Mancini, who has won his first three games in charge despite a clutch of absentees, is not sure whether he can parade the 33-year-old former Arsenal hero on Monday against Blackburn.

Vieira, who watched his new City team-mates train at Carrington, took a painful knock towards the end of his valedictory performance for Inter Milan on Wednesday, a 1-0 win at Chievo.

Mancini admitted: "I don't know if he plays against Blackburn. He took a kick on the calf at the end of the game. We'll have to see how he is tomorrow and then we have two days to decide."

Vieira is determined to shake off the knock, and played down the notion of becoming skipper, an honour currently enjoyed by Kolo Toure, on African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast. He said: "Kolo is doing a good job, he is a fantastic captain."

Mancini also waved away the idea of Vieira taking the armband - "we have many important players and Patrick is another of those" - but left no doubt as to his admiration for his first signing.

He declared: "He is a big player, an important player. And he is a winner - at Arsenal, at Juventus, at Inter Milan, he won a lot of trophies, and he wants to continue that way here at City.

"You talk about signing big-name players, well Patrick has a big name. He will be a regular player, he can improve our performances. It is most important that he plays well."

Roberto drew a grin from Vieira when he added: "Patrick can help me because he knows my working methods, because his mentality is most important for the team ... and because he is a tall player who can score goals with his head!"

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