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Quartet missing for Watford clash

Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed that City will be without a quartet of first team stars for the visit of Watford on Saturday.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, the manager ruled out Wilfried Bony, Pablo Zabaleta, Fernando and Gael Clichy from the squad to face the Hornets, but named three youthful beneficiaries who will be included.

Said the boss: “Unfortunately Bony had a cut on his leg yesterday, so he is not able to play tomorrow. I think after the international break he will be ready so he will be out around 7-10 days.

“For tomorrow we have three young players in our squad, because we have a few players who are injured so we have Pablo Maffeo, Patrick Roberts and Kelechi in the squad list.

“I hope Fernando will be fit again during the international break. For Clichy, I do not know exactly because I am not a doctor but around 6-7 weeks, and Pablo will be out for about a month with a his ligaments.”

Watford are unbeaten in their opening three games after being promoted from the Championship, and Pellegrini has sounded a note of caution about underestimating a quality side with a manager he is familiar with from his time in Spain.

Following the win over Everton, the Chilean alluded to lessons being learnt from last year and he is determined that his players approach a home game with the Hornets in the same way as they would a Manchester derby – with no room for any discussion about the Champions League draw until the international break has come and gone.

He declared: “It is a difficult game because they have played three games in the Premier League and have drawn them all. They have a good manager and good players and the greatest mistake we can make in this moment is to think because we have won the last three games we will win the next one.

“We must play in the same way with the same concentration and intensity. The only way to do that is to think only about Watford, so I don’t want to answer any questions about the other competitions.

“I told all the players that we must talk about the Champions League draw after they come back from the international break.

“We must understand that to play against Watford is the same as against Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United. All of them are in the Premier League and if you play with less intensity then everything can go wrong, so it is important to continue playing in the same way as we have been and not to make the same mistakes as we did last year.”

If City do secure all three points then they will break a club record that has stood for over a century, with a sequence of ten consecutive victories.

However, the boss remains concerned with points rather than history, and added: “I will be very pleased [with the record] because we will be at the top of the table with 12 points.”

Although Pellegrini once more refused to discuss transfer rumours, the manager was happy to answer questions about newest signing, Nicolas Otamendi.

While the Argentine will have a tough job to displace Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala on present form, Manuel pointed to the importance of having  a strong, competitive squad to challenge on four fronts, rather than relying on the same starting XI throughout the campaign.

He argued: “We did not sign Otamendi for one or two games, we signed him for three or four years. We are doing very well at defending at the moment but we don’t just need a team, we need a squad.

“We play in four competitions and will have around 60 games before the end of the season, so it is very important to have a strong squad not just a good team. If you only have 11 good players you will not win anything.”

The early season form of Mangala has won him plaudits from the media and fans alike, but Pellegrini maintains that his young defender is improving all the time as he continues to adapt to English football.

“He is not the first player who has had a problem in his first season in the Premier League, because it is not easy to play in the Premier League,” said Pellegrini.

“Last season Mangala had some very good games - he also made some important mistakes but he is a young player and is trying to improve. I have always said we have bought a good player and he must demonstrate that in the next year.”

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