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Pellegrini: We have to be at our best to progress

Manuel Pellegrini is planning to select a strong team to face Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fourth round this weekend.

Though there are likely to be one or two tweaks, Pellegrini won’t change his policy of resisting wholesale changes for the domestic cup competitions as he looks for his third trophy since arriving from Malaga in 2013.

Boro are one of the Championship’s form sides with just one loss in 15 games – by coincidence exactly the same as City – and the Blues’ boss says only a high level display will see his side progress into the last 16.

“Of course there are always opportunities for players to impress and stake a claim for a place but we are playing on Saturday and not in midweek and we will have a full week to recover before we play Chelsea so with that in mind, I will try and put out the strongest team I can,” said Pellegrini.

I expect a tough game because Middlesbrough are doing very well in the Championship. I know their manager Aitor Karanka very well and he is doing an excellent job so far



“They are well organised and don’t concede many goals so unless we play with 100% intensity and concentration we will find it difficult to progress into the next round of the FA Cup.

“Middlesbrough may not be a Premier League team but they are fighting to win promotion and this will be a very difficult match and we need to be at our best to win. We are not in the Capital One Cup anymore and we want to do well in this competition because it was disappointing to lose in the quarter-final last season."

City return home from Abu Dhabi on Friday and Pellegrini is confident it won’t have any bearing on Saturday’s game.

He said: “We are not worried about the travelling element. There is only a few hours difference between and we will return to the CFA on Friday and prepare for the game as normal.

"It was the right time to have a break and we've enjoyed our stay in Abu Dhabi. Last January we played eight or nine games so it was important to have this time so we can return refreshed."

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