Man City V Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium - Match Preview.




Mancini dismisses striker speculation

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini showed his lighter side before addressing some serious issues as he met media ahead of this weekend's clash with Aston Villa.

After sending David Platt to speak on his behalf before and after last Sunday's defeat of Tottenham, the Italian joked with press by arriving for his latest briefing wearing a mask of his assistant.

It was the 47-year-old's way of showing he had lost none of his sense of humour despite a couple of recent fiery exchanges with journalists.

But the City manager was soon dealing with more weighty matters as he was asked about reports linking the club with Luis Suarez, last week's omission of Mario Balotelli and Joe Hart's form.

Mancini dismissed out of hand claims that City are lining up a bid in the region of #50million for Liverpool's in-form striker Suarez.

He even said the Barclays Premier League champions have no intention of adding to their squad at all when the transfer window opens in January.

Mancini said: "Firstly we have a good team and we don't need to buy other players in January.

"Secondly, we can't buy Suarez because we don't need him and we have four strikers. Suarez is a top player but he plays for Liverpool."

Midfielder James Milner (hamstring) and defender Joleon Lescott (back) are back in contention.

Left-back Gael Clichy (back) could also be fit after missing France's midweek international against Italy and forward Samir Nasri has recovered from illness.

Striker Mario Balotelli will hope to play after being dropped last week but midfielder Jack Rodwell (hamstring) and right-back Micah Richards (knee) are not ready to return.

Villa manager Paul Lambert insists he is happy to put his faith in young talent.

Lambert spent #22million on rebuilding his squad in the summer, with the emphasis on up-and-coming players such as Christian Benteke, Matt Lowton, Joe Bennett and Ashley Westwood.

It is the philosophy that brought him success at Norwich, although the Scot will not shy away from signing an experienced player if he fits in with his plans.

When asked if signing young players is out of choice or financial necessity, Lambert said: "It's my way. I'll not deviate from my way.

"You speak to other managers and take advice from them. It would always be my decision. Yes, I love to win but the project is long term.

"I know I need to get results but I'd rather a team that is giving everything. I know you take knocks, but it's how you come back from them.

"I think they all growing into it, the young lads. If you look at the average age, it is a very young side but that is great for the future. If we keep growing together, we'll have a right strong side.

"I couldn't ask for anymore, not just the effort but the way they have played. Would I sign experienced players?

"It's not something I'll turn away from. If they have got the right attitude to go and do it, and they fit into the group, then I'd look at that."

Source: PA