Roberto Mancini has revealed he is likely to be without four key players for the second leg with Sporting Lisbon on Thursday evening.
Gareth Barry, Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta all unlikely to play, though Joleon Lescott could make the bench. Mancini believes Barry should be fit for Chelsea, but Kompany and Zabaleta will likely need another 10 days or so.
“Gareth was ill on Tuesday, but he hasn’t been right for around three weeks with a back problem,” revealed the boss.
“That is why he didn’t play as well as he normally does when we played Swansea and he probably needs two or three days’ rest.
“Joleon could possibly make the bench against Sporting, but will definitely be back for Chelsea.
I would love to have Vincent Kompany back for Sporting but if he is fit for the trip to Stoke, I will be very happy
...Mancini Sporting preview.
“I think Zabaleta will also be fit for the game at Stoke, but no sooner. We will play the strongest team available against Sporting because we want to progress to the next stage, but it won’t be easy.”
Mancini is hoping to see his team return to something close to their best after back-to-back defeats in the Europe and the Premier League.
The Blues must win by two clear goals if they are to progress to the last eight of the Europa League and have drawn blanks in the last two games against Sporting and Swansea. The City boss believes it is vital his team returns to winning ways and gets back on track as quickly as possible.
“In Portugal and against Swansea we didn’t play as Manchester City normally do,” he said. “I don’t think we deserved to lose but we didn’t play as well as we could and were punished on each occasion.
“Our destiny is still in our own hands and now is the time to be strong. If we want to change our mentality, we have to try and win every game.
“Throughout history, the top teams win their league and win a major European trophy and if we want to be successful, we have to try and win everything we enter.”
“Of course, there is pressure on us because we want to win the title. If Manchester United go out against Atletico Bilbao, maybe it will give them a slight edge in the remaining weeks so for that reason, we hope they win in Spain!”