Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini said tonight that Sergio Aguero has suffered knee ligament damage which leaves him unlikely to play in Wednesday’s vital Champions League clash against AS Roma - presenting the club with “a big problem.”
Pellegrini said that the Argentine had suffered knee ligament damage two minutes into City’s 1-0 win over Everton, which left him hobbling off the pitch in tears, and admitted it was a blow to have lost the player who was “in a very good moment.” He said that David Silva, who has been missing for five weeks with a knee injury, was “not ready” – leaving City, also without captain Vincent company today, facing an even tougher task in the Italian capital. “It's very difficult with a ligament to recover in three days,” Pellegrini said of Aguero. “Of course it's a big problem.”
The match in Stadio Olimpico will be a severe test of whether those players who do not form the spine of the team can step up. Stevan Jovetic is likely to play, despite having been left out today because of “a small problem with his hamstring” according to the Chilean. But Kompany’s hamstring seems unlikely to be risked, considering his own muscular problems in the past few years, Yaya Toure is suspended and Fernandinho is also a doubt. The Brazilian missed today’s game with what City sources suggested was an injury.
“We have to play such an important game without such important players, it's a difficult challenge but I will never complain,” Pellegrini added.
Aguero will undergo scans on Sunday but despite the setback, the City manager could take huge encouragement from the way his team had put aside the setback to grind out a workmanlike win over Everton – capitalising on Chelsea’s defeat at Newcastle United. City trail Jose Mourinho’s side by only three points now.
“This win was important for a lot of reasons, because Chelsea lost their game, it was important to recover points to be near the leaders,” Pellegrini said. “December is a difficult month when we have to play seven games. It's a month when you don't win the title but it's a key month and you want to be near the leader when you start next month. We have always said this team is not just Sergio Aguero, we will also miss Jovetic, Edin Dzeko, but he was able to play 25 minutes yesterday, and David Silva, who is also an important offensive player.”
City were blessed with good fortune. It was a poor performance from referee Andre Marriner, who awarded a soft penalty to City for Phil Jagielka’s challenge on James Milner - and then failed to spot a studs-up challenge by Eliaquim Mangala on Samuel Eto’ which was a red card offence. Everton manager Roberto Martinez said the challenge left Eto’o with stud marks on his back and he was deeply unhappy about Marriner’s officiating
“It's not a penalty in a million years,” Martinez said. “Jagielka cannot disappear. It's a natural action to get to the ball. Football is a contact sport, if you look at the reaction of James he's trying to get up and fight for the ball. But putting aside the referee's performance, our first-half performance on the ball was not as good as it could be.”
Pellegrini said he was happy that his defence – severely criticised throughout this season – had not conceded, with Joe Hart making a fine save at the end. “It's impossible at this moment to know how long he will be out,” he said. “He has a problem with his ligament in his knee. On Sunday we will know better how serious it is. He will probably miss the game in Rome but it's difficult to say. We are not sure in this moment but it's very difficult with a ligament to recover in three days.”
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