Mancini: No truth in Zenit talk

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


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


He signed a five-year deal to stay in the Etihad Stadium hotseat

last summer after delivering City’s first league title in 44


“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.”