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ESPN: Toon hope Europe distracts City

Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne

There's a host of thoughts and opinions on tonight's match at St James' Park, plus the almost inevitable transfer talk.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has a battle on his hands to keep the Magpies in the Premier League, but he’s mused on whether the Champions League semi-final that’s looming for City may be a distraction.

ESPN pick up on the wily Spaniard’s comments thus: “Manager Manuel Pellegrini has already had to contend with the circus surrounding the impending arrival of successor Pep Guardiola, and Benitez is hoping the Chilean's players have other things on their minds as Newcastle look to drag themselves out of the drop zone.

“He said: ‘I'm sure Pellegrini will try to do that (keep them focused), but in the back of your head, you are thinking the semi-final is massive, to be in the final and have the opportunity to win the final, so imagine if you pick up an injury or have any problem, so I think the players will be thinking about that - hopefully, a lot of them.

"’But they are professionals and will try to win. They are in a good position now in the Premier League and they will want to stay higher. But in the back of their head, for sure, will be the doubt that if they pick up an injury, they cannot play in the semi-final or final.’"

Benitez’s City counterpart will welcome back the talismanic figure that is Vincent Kompany, and in several places including the Guardian, Manuel Pellegrini backs his skipper to get over the injuries that have blighted his season.

“Manuel Pellegrini is confident Vincent Kompany is not mentally scarred by having continually to return from injury as the Manchester City captain makes his latest comeback at Newcastle on Tuesday.

“The manager said Kompany could start at St James’ Park. ‘He is a very strong player mentally so seeing him working – and we delayed a little bit his return to the first team – I think he is without any problems and he is working 100% with normality. So I don’t think he has any mind problems and I hope that we will see him returning to his best performances.’”

The baffling absence of Sergio Aguero from the six-man shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award also rates many a mention, with the Mirror saying Pellegrini is “stunned” by the omission.

And of course, this being Manchester City’s media review, there’s a bit of transfer chat. Today the Ilkay Gundogan rumour resurfaces in the Mail.

Simon Jones writes, “Manchester City expect to finalise the £23million transfer of Ilkay Gundogan from Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season. City are understood to have ironed out details on a five-year contract for the Germany international, who has been dogged by back and foot injuries in recent years.”

So while you reach for the large pinch of salt, we’ll say see you on Wednesday for more media musings and reflections on tonight’s meeting with Newcastle, which you can follow right here on the Matchday Centre.

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Zabaleta expecting Magpies to go for broke

Men's Team

Kompany, Sterling back for Magpies clash


City have skipper Vincent Kompany and winger Raheem Sterling back in the squad for the Premier League trip to Newcastle.

Kompany (calf) and Sterling (groin) have been out for around a month but are ready to return to action against the relegation-battling Magpies.

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