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
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
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.”