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Pablo tackles toughest task

Pablo Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta

Pablo Zabaleta is taking it on the chin as he pays a higher price for his commitment to the cause than the two-match ban he served at the start of the month.

The popular Argentine, whose tenth booking of the season against Wigan triggered an automatic suspension, is now battling to force his way back into Roberto Mancini's side.

Zaba admitted: "Being suspended for two games after Wigan was bad for me. I was playing in every game - as every player wants to do - but while I was out the team played well.

"The derby was a really difficult game for me because it was the best, and everyone in the squad wished to play, but at least I was on the bench and able to feel involved.

"We know that in every position we have two or three players with fantastic quality. That's how it is if you want to become a great team, and that is happening in this squad now.

"Sometimes you give an opportunity to another player because you are suspended or injured.

The fight is very intense, but it is a friendly fight. We all want to do our best for the club



Pablo's versatility earned a heartfelt salute from manager Roberto Mancini earlier in the season,  and his ability to slot into midfield or defence could yet come into play.

He said: "It can be an advantage when you can play in different positions, and good for the manager as well. Maybe I've played in too many this season, but I am always ready and it's good the manager has confidence in me.

"Sometimes I am an aggressive player, but I saw John Terry's challenge on James Milner in the FA Cup semi-final and it was only yellow for him. Maybe for me it would be a red card!

"Two or three yellow cards were not deserved, but you need to accept that. Sometimes it's difficult, but where I play it's too often one-to-one with the winger. It can be a hard call."

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