Mancini backs Bridge for England

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The Independent Online

Roberto Mancini believes Wayne Bridge will have done enough to impress watching England manager Fabio Capello in Manchester City's 1-1 FA Cup fifth-round draw with Stoke.

Left-back Bridge, who looks certain to play in next month's international friendly against Egypt after Ashley Cole underwent surgery, was one of City's better performers - particularly going forward - in a largely lacklustre showing, with Capello watching from the stands.

"Wayne played very well," said City manager 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."

City took advantage of a defensive calamity by Ryan Shawcross which presented Shaun Wright-Phillips with a simple tap-in early on, but failed to build on that start and were undone by one of Rory Delap's famous long throws as Ricardo Fuller powered home in the second half.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis, who saw Matthew Etherington, Liam Lawrence and Andy Wilkinson all forced off through injury, said: "I thought we performed really well and we will give it our best shot in the replay."

There is added incentive ahead of the replay with the winners set for a mouthwatering quarter-final clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Portsmouth boss Avram Grant vowed to carry on fighting after his side's 4-1 win over rivals Southampton at the end of a week when his club nearly went out of business.

Victory in the fifth-round tie means Pompey have bragging rights on the south coast and go into the quarter-finals where they will host Birmingham - but the bigger picture is they have to return to the High Court to fight a winding-up order from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

"I will fight until the last moment, as long as we have a chance on the pitch," Grant said. "What happens in court is out of my hands.

"If they need to punish someone then it is a person that does something wrong. I don't know who that is but it is not us."

Pompey defeated their neighbours 4-1 at St Mary's, pulling away with goals from Aruna Dindane, Nadir Belhadj and Jamie O'Hara after Rickie Lambert had cancelled out Quincy Owusu-Abeyie's opener.

Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins insists Chelsea are happy with Joe Cole's form after the England international was taken off at half-time during their 4-1 FA Cup fifth-round win over Cardiff.

Wilkins revealed Cole's removal was a tactical decision by Carlo Ancelotti with Coca-Cola Championship side Cardiff holding the Blues 1-1 at the interval.

Chelsea had gone in front in the second minute through Didier Drogba's 23rd goal of the season but Michael Chopra put City level before the break.

Second-half goals from Michael Ballack, Daniel Sturridge and substitute Salomon Kalou ensured holders Chelsea reached the quarter-finals.

"Joe wasn't injured, it was just a tactical thing," said Wilkins. "When you have had a long lay-off like Joe, it really is a shock to the system. But it does take a bit of time to get back into your tip-top form.

"That will come with Joe. He is working extremely hard day by day, so we don't see any problems there at all."

Elsewhere, Birmingham came from behind to win 2-1 at Derby, while Reading and West Brom played out a 2-2 draw in an all-Coca Cola Championship tie and the winners of the replay will face another second-division side if Crystal Palace defeat Aston Villa at the second time of asking.

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