Touré says title race with Manchester United is too close to call


Despite City's two-point lead at the top of the Premier League, Kolo Touré thinks the title race between the two Manchester clubs is too close to call.

Both sides go into tomorrow's fixtures after defeats in the Europa League. However, while Sir Alex Ferguson could talk of resting Rio Ferdinand for United's home game against West Bromwich Albion, Roberto Mancini will probably require every fit and available defender at Swansea.

Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta are definitely out for City while Joleon Lescott is a doubt. That will put a significant load on Touré's shoulders as the season enters its decisive phase.

"It will be tough now because of all the experience and quality Manchester United have," said Touré. "To be honest, it's 50:50. We need to be careful, but it's going to be a great end to the season. The best scenario for us would be to win all our games and then have a 'final' against Manchester United to win it; but the season is a long one and there are no small teams."

Swansea have lost as many games at the Liberty Stadium as Manchester United have at Old Trafford – two – and Mancini's side will be flying directly to Wales from Portugal after their 1-0 defeat by Sporting Lisbon on Thursday, where their performance seemed dulled by tiredness.

Perhaps it was a night when City missed the marauding presence of Touré's brother, Yaya, who has been the club's most effective outfield player in the second part of the season.

Seven years ago, Newcastle, having suffered a far heavier defeat by Sporting at the Jose Alvalade, stayed on in Portugal, flew straight to Wales and were humiliated by Manchester United in an FA Cup semi-final staged at the Millennium Stadium. City would hope for better.

"The Swansea game is going to be like a final for us," Kolo Touré said. "Every game we play between now and the end of the season is going to be massive. We will give our all against Swansea."

With Mancini suddenly short of defenders and competing on two fronts, Touré is a central figure on the pitch a year after he was given a six-month ban for taking an unauthorised substance – his wife's slimming pills.

"That is why I am here," he said. "We have a big squad and every time the manager needs a player to come in and give of his best, we have to do it. I will give everything, as I have always done. I am more hungry than ever after the difficult time I have had and I just want to play well for the team. I am here to pass on my experience. The team needs experience and quality and now is the time to show it."

* Swansea will be without the winger Nathan Dyer tomorrow, as he begins a three-match ban following his red card in last weekend's win at Wigan. Wayne Routledge will start on the right for Brendan Rodgers' side.

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