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Squad first, Mancini tells local heroes

Mancini scarf

Mancini scarf

Roberto Mancini has told fans' heroes Shaun Wright-Phillips, Stephen Ireland and Nedum Onuoha they will have to be patient as the Blues boss manages his squad for the good of the team.

The homegrown trio were all on the bench for Tuesday night's 2-0 Premier League victory over Bolton, with supporters chanting in vain for Wright-Phillips to come on in the second half.

All three could find themselves back in the starting line-up for tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round tie against awkward visitors Stoke, but Mancini is making no promises to any of his players.

City's injury list is finally easing, and the manager said: "It's not a matter of fitting them in. We've played ten or 11 games and they have all played, but it's impossible for them to play always.

"We have 21 or 22 players when they are all fit. This is better for us, but they can't play every game. Sometimes they need to recover, and they cannot always do that in two or three training sessions.

"Yes, I heard the fans singing Shaun's name, and I am happy for him. He is a good player, but it is important that he keeps improving - not only Shaun but all the players, the whole team.


If we want to win and reach our target, then we must keep improving


"Now I know all the players here very well, I know their qualities in my mind. I have to decide before a game if it is better for the team to play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, whether to play Stevie or Shaun or somebody else. If I decide, then he plays. It's easy!

"But if we want to become an important squad we must work harder and we must BECOME a squad. One player or manager is not important, it is the club that is important, the squad that is important."

Craig Bellamy will rest his tweaked knee tomorrow and Mancini is also ready to give several Tuesday night starts a breather. He added: "We are playing every three or four days, it's impossible to always pick the same players. We are playing Stoke on Saturday and Tuesday, and they will be two very hard games."


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