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Mancini waits on injured stars

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Roberto Mancini faces a defensive injury crisis as City prepare to face free-scoring champions Chelsea at the City of Manchester Stadium tomorrow lunchtime.

The Blues boss will speak with recovering duo Jerome Boateng and Joleon Lescott before deciding on his back four to  tackle the team he suspects will retain their Barclays Premier League crown in May.

England defender Lescott is only just back in training while Germany World Cup star Boateng has been back in training for a week but is returning from a relatively long-term knee injury.

Mancini, with only three senior defenders definitely fit, might have to turn to Dedryck Boyata to fill in at right back with Micah Richards struggling to shake off the hamstring injury that ruled him out at West Brom.

Roberto said: "I'm disapopointed because we need all the players who are injured, it's an important moment for us. But what can you do? I had to make changes in midweek also because we didn't have the players."

City did the double last season over Chelsea, managed by his friend and former team-mate Carlo Ancelotti, but Mancini, in charge for the 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge, knows that counts for nothing tomorrow.

He said: "Chelsea are the best team at the moment. They look as if they will win the Premier League easily, a strong team who have played together for years and who have a fantastic manager.

"They have scored a lot of goals, but even when you score so many goals, the day always comes when you don't score. So I hope it's tomorrow! Why not?. We know it will be a difficult game for us, but it is for them as well.

"Chelsea is the top squad, but I don't think our players are worse than theirs. Our team is a strong team. We have only one problem - the injuries. But the players on the pitch tomorrow will be strong, of that I am confident."

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