Premier League

Mancini: No truth in Zenit talk

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Fri, 15 Mar 2013 11:56:00

Leeds pair Steve Morison and Tom Lees face late fitness tests ahead of Saturday's Championship clash with West Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield at Elland Road

Morison was replaced at half-time during the midweek draw with Peterborough due to a calf strain, while defender Lees was forced off in the first half with a hip problem.

Jason Pearce will continue alongside skipper Lee Peltier in central defence if Lees is ruled out.

Ross McCormack is also rated doubtful after taking a blow to his head on Tuesday night, while manager Neil Warnock revealed goalkeeper Paddy Kenny, midfield pair David Norris and Michael Tonge, plus defender Sam Byram are all nursing knocks.

Striker El-Hadji Diouf impressed as a second-half substitute in midweek and is pushing for a recall to the starting line-up, and midfielders Michael Brown and Rudy Austin also provide Warnock with alternative options.

Huddersfield manager Mark Robins has confirmed Jermaine Beckford will play no part in the derby clash with his former club.

The striker, on a season-long loan from Leicester, has been sidelined since January with a hamstring injury and will not be included in Robins' plans.

But fellow forward James Vaughan will return to contention after a two-game ban and Sean Scannell has an outside chance of returning to the squad after sitting out two matches due to a hamstring problem.

Winger Danny Ward is pushing for his first start since January after recovering from a broken bone in his foot. He has stepped off the substitutes' bench in Huddersfield's previous two matches.

Defender Calum Woods is also pushing for a recall after missing out recently with a hamstring strain, but midfielder Keith Southern remains sidelined with an Achilles injury.

Zenit see the Italian as the man to replace Luciano Spalletti under whom the club are third behind CSKA Moscow in the domestic league table.

Mancini insisted he did not fear the axe if he failed to defend the Premier League title and lose it to their cross-city neighbours United.

He signed a five-year deal to stay in the Etihad Stadium hotseat last summer after delivering City's first league title in 44 years.

"It is cold here I think St Petersburg is (colder)?" he said. "It is absolutely not true."

Mancini also rejected the theory of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger that a lack of English representation in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 1996 was a massive "wake-up call" for the Premier League.

"Last year Chelsea won it and this year English football has three teams in the quarter-finals of the Europa League," said Mancini. "For three or four years English teams have won, or been to the final. For one year, other teams have done it.

"When I read this thing about English football being down I thought it was stupid.

"It is impossible to win every year. This reaction is like Italy where if you win one game you are the best team and if you don't it is a disaster.

"This is football. If every year the same teams win, football would be like other things. Football is good for this. Every year things can change."

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