Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini avoided media duties on his 48th birthday, leaving first-team coach David Platt to sing the praises of defender Matija Nastasic.
Earlier this month Mancini walked into one of his press conferences wearing a Platt mask, a jovial reference to his recent habit of asking his number two to speak on his behalf. And it was Platt again who addressed reporters as City previewed their midweek Barclays Premier League trip to Wigan.
The former England midfielder claimed it had nothing to do with the fact it was the Italian's birthday, but said there was work to do with the game coming just three days after the last. Platt said: "It's not just his birthday, the games are coming thick and fast and his words are in the system."
Platt went on to speak positively about the champions' defence, with Sunday's goalless draw at Chelsea bringing a fifth clean sheet in seven Premier League games. Among their key performers has been 19-year-old Nastasic, who is now blocking the return of fit-again England centre-back Joleon Lescott to the team.
The Serbian, signed from Fiorentina on deadline day in August, has started the last seven matches in all competitions. Lescott missed part of that sequence with a back injury but has been back in contention for the last three games.
Platt said: "That is testament to him (Nastasic). He has stepped in. The first couple of games he has had to get used to English football but he has done that very quickly. The really, really good performance - he has had several good ones - but the real one where it might have been a bit alien to him was when we went down to West Ham.
"You knew the ball was coming in, they were hitting the diagonal balls towards Andy Carroll and I thought he acquitted himself exceptionally well. You get that a lot in the Premier League that you don't get in Serie A and it shows there is an old head on young shoulders to adapt to that."
Lescott did not even make the bench at Stamford Bridge with Kolo Toure preferred as back-up central defender, but Platt does not think much should be read into that.
He said: "Joleon is fine. He will be available for selection like he was available for selection at the weekend.
"He has been available for selection for a few games, but we can only put 11 on the pitch."