Warnock backs Manchester City to crack top four

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The Independent Football

Neil Warnock tipped Manchester City to break into the Barclays Premier League top three this season after seeing at first hand just how the Eastlands revolution is progressing.

City's £200m team, including England defender Joleon Lescott on his debut, struggled against Warnock's no-nonsense Crystal Palace in the first half of their Carling Cup clash last night.

But their quality shone through after the break as goals from Shaun Wright-Phillips and Carlos Tevez - his first in City colours - saw the Premier League superstars through 2-0 at Selhurst Park.

And afterwards Warnock was left in no doubt City could not only break into that elusive top four, but possibly go one better.

"I think they'll finish in the top three, let alone the top four," he said.

"It's nice to watch a few feathers getting ruffled and that's what they are going to do at the top of the Premier League."

City boss Mark Hughes, mindful of how this competition could provide some silverware this season to justify the club's lavish spending, named his strongest possible line-up.

"It was once bitten, twice shy for us," said Hughes. "Last season we went down to Brighton, made changes and got knocked out.

"We are not in Europe this season, that is one less competition for us, and we want to do as well as we can in the ones we are in."

Hughes backed Tevez to stay on the goal trail after the Argentinian scored with a header from Wright-Phillips' corner to kill off Palace.

Tevez, who hit 34 goals in two seasons for Manchester United, found the net for the first time since swapping red for light blue.

"That was important for him," said Hughes.

"I hoped he would get opportunities and he was able to get off the mark. His energy and enthusiasm for the game shone through.

"The more he plays for us, the better he will become. We've got Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos off the mark now so we are delighted."

Hughes was also pleased to get Lescott's debut out of the way following his protracted, and at times acrimonious, £22milion switch from Everton.

"He did fine," added Hughes.

"He only had 24 hours and one training session with us. But we got clearance for him to play and it was important to get him in the team as soon as possible."