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Zinchenko keen to make up for lost time in Europe

ACTION MAN: Oleksandr Zinchenko takes the game to Wolves

ACTION MAN: Oleksandr Zinchenko takes the game to Wolves

Oleksandr Zinchenko says he is desperate to be involved in Manchester City’s Champions League last-16 tie away at Basel.

The 21-year-old was added to Pep Guardiola’s European squad when the list was resubmitted ahead of the knock-out phase, reward for his impressive performances this season.

He has played nine times in all competitions, emerging as first-choice at left-back in the absence of Benjamin Mendy and Fabian Delph, and has looked increasingly adept with each passing game.

The Ukrainian admits there’s stiff competition throughout the Blues squad, but is targeting a starting berth in Switzerland as he looks to make his European debut for the Club.

“It’s a big pleasure to play for this team,” he said. “I am always ready.

“I hope to play but every player has to help our team. It doesn’t matter if it’s from the bench, the pitch or the stadium – we are one family.

“We have to keep going. We have made some analysis about our game against Leicester and of course we have thought about Basel.

“It’s a very important game for us.”

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READ: Basel scouting report

Zinchenko, a No. 10 by trade, had never played left-back until his City debut against Wolves in October, but his touch and composure have allowed him to excel in an unfamiliar role.

And with a desire to get forward, he’s been an important component in City’s free-flowing attacking style, but not to the detriment to his defensive duties, where he has looked equally assured.

He says full-back is a complex position, particularly in Guardiola’s setup, but believes by playing there he can develop a more well-rounded game.

“The full-backs in our team…it’s a special position because we have to play sometimes inside, sometimes outside, sometimes deep, and we also cannot forget to control our winger,” he explained.

“To be honest, I am still learning. A lot of the guys are giving me advice.

“But I’m getting used to it and I’m enjoying this position.

“I am so happy to be part of this team and I’m ready to help everywhere.”

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City's Champions League season so far

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Zinchenko has been part of a special season at the Etihad Stadium.

We currently sit 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League table and remain involved in all three knock-out competitions, having won 35 of our 40 matches in all competitions.

He says Guardiola deserves much of the praise for City’s fine form, with the manager’s attention to detail crucial to the players’ preparations.

“He is the No. 1 manager in the world,” he said.

“He explains everything intelligently and every player understands what they have to do on the pitch.

“That’s why we have good results and we are first in the league.”

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As City prepare to face Basel in the first leg of our Champions League last-16 tie, Delph believes he will come back from his latest setback stronger than ever.

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