Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is prepared to throw in teenage Belgian defender Dedryck Boyata for tomorrow's Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester United.
The 19-year-old, who made his debut in Saturday's 1-0 FA Cup victory over Middlesbrough, may have to play in the first leg at Eastlands given the absence of Kolo Touré at the African Nations Cup and injuries to Nedum Onuoha and Joleon Lescott.
Micah Richards and Robinho, however, should have recovered in time to play in Manchester City's first semi-final since 1981. Roque Santa Cruz is unlikely to feature against a United side that is certain to be far stronger than planned after their numbing exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Leeds United. Shaun Wright-Phillips is touch and go to feature in a Mancini squad for the first time.
In employing both Boyata and Vladimir Weiss at the Riverside, Mancini signalled his intention to continue to mine talent from the Manchester City Academy as well as use Abu Dhabi's money in the January transfer window. "I have never been afraid of giving young players their chance," he said. "It is important to me and the owners that we continue to bring young players through the academy."
However, Mancini said yesterday that he would not begin transfer negotiations with any club until at least the first leg of the semi-final is concluded. Patrick Vieira, who has fallen out of favour with Mancini's successor at Internazionale, Jose Mourinho, is likely to be first on his list.
"A lot of players want to join Manchester City," he said. "This is normal with a big club that has a big future. People are not only talking about Patrick Vieira, they are talking about Ivan Cordoba and Christian Chivu. They are all good players but the most important thing is the match against Manchester United. We can talk about transfers after the derby."