Tevez granted leave as City are held

Tevez was missing on Saturday evening as Manchester City were held

to a 1-1 draw at Eastlands by Tony Pulis’ men in the FA Cup fifth

round, and Mancini is already planning without his star striker for

the midweek match after he returned home for family reasons. “I

don’t think Carlos will be here,” said Mancini. “Hopefully he will

be back in three days but that would mean he couldn’t play on

Tuesday.” City missed Tevez’s industry as they failed to take

advantage of a defensive calamity by Ryan Shawcross – who picked

the worst possible time to make such an horrific lapse as England

coach Fabio Capello was in the stands – which presented Shaun

Wright-Phillips with a simple tap-in. Instead, they were undone by

one of Rory Delap’s famous long throws as Ricardo Fuller powered

home with Shay Given rooted to his line. “Shay couldn’t have saved

that,” said Mancini. “The problem was that our starting positions

were bad. Stoke ended up with two players free. That was the

problem.” Wright-Phillips’ display is bound to have caught

Capello’s attention, while Wayne Bridge also produced a solid

performance before Mancini once again reaffirmed his belief the

full-back will make himself available for England’s friendly

against Egypt on March 3 despite the likely presence of John Terry.

“Wayne played very well,” said Mancini. “He is a good player who

can play for the national team and I expect him to do so. “That is

what he told me and I think it is important for him.” The draw

means City must tackle Stoke three times in 11 days, with the

replay confirmed for February 24 at the Britannia Stadium. Mancini

is facing a real selection headache ahead of the second of those

games though as, in addition to Tevez, Craig Bellamy is also out,

while Martin Petrov, Stephen Ireland and Wright-Phillips picked up

injuries during this evening’s encounter which make them doubtful

as well. “It is a problem but I hope some of the players recover

because we need to prepare properly for a game that is very

important if we are going to do well in the league,” he said. With

a beaming smile, Pulis confirmed that while he did not want a draw,

he was happy to accept one knowing a place in the quarter-finals is

now a realistic prospect given Stoke’s form on home soil. However,

Pulis also has his injury problems, with Matthew Etherington taken

for a scan on a serious-looking knee injury. “There was nothing in

the actual tackle,” shrugged Pulis. “His studs got stuck in the

ground. The doctor said it might be one where the ligament has just

gone over the bone and Matthew might be OK on Tuesday. Fingers

crossed.” In addition, Liam Lawrence and Andy Wilkinson were forced

off either side of the interval with knee and ankle problems

respectively. “I thought we performed really well tonight and we

will give it our best shot in the replay,” Pulis said.