Man City V Leeds at Etihad Stadium : Match Preview
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Mancini taking cup clash seriously
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini will take few chances as his side face Leeds in an FA Cup clash critical to his side's season this weekend.
After falling 12 points behind leaders Manchester United in their bid to retain their Barclays Premier League crown, the knockout competition appears to represent City's most realistic hope of silverware.
Mancini may have rubbished suggestions he could face the sack if beaten by the Championship outfit in their fifth-round tie, but he remains aware of the game's importance.
After starting the season with such high hopes in the Premier League and Champions League, he is anxious to ensure the campaign does not disintegrate.
The Italian said: "We play with the best team. I will do some changes because I have two or three players injured but after that, I will play with the best team."
Although captain Vincent Kompany will not be risked as he continues his recovery from a calf strain, the only deviation in that policy will see back-up goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon given a chance.
Mancini said: "I will play Costel like always in the FA Cup. Costel is a good keeper, he deserves to play. He always does in the FA Cup and he did well against Stoke."
First-choice Joe Hart will therefore be rested but Mancini stressed that has nothing to do with the much-highlighted error the England goalkeeper made in last week's damaging loss at Southampton.
He said: "For a keeper it's normal sometimes to make a mistake. If the keeper makes a mistake you lose a game but if the striker doesn't score a goal, maybe you can draw 0-0.
"Their job is difficult because of this."
Leeds manager Neil Warnock admits he would not swap jobs with Mancini.
Warnock, sacked by QPR last term after leading the club into the top flight, has had little financial support at Leeds but is adamant he is happy in his current environment, while Italian Mancini has spent millions on assembling a world-class squad at the Etihad Stadium.
"I don't think I'd be able to cope. I only had six months with the current type of Premier League players and I didn't enjoy that at all," Warnock said.
"I wouldn't like to have two teams where you've got 11 or 12 not in the team to deal with, who are world class players, who all think they should be in the team, who all their agents think they should be in the team. Good luck to them.
"I don't envy that at all. It's fabulous to have a team like that, but I don't envy the off-the-field things that you get.
"It's a major problem at the top clubs I think. I'd love to go up with Leeds, with a genuine bunch of lads, like we did at QPR - most of them are back in the team now - it's great to go up with a team like that.
"I think people like Mancini, and I'm not being disrespectful to him, need the financial support they've got. Like Mourinho. I don't think they could manage at Leeds in the current climate, or anywhere else other than top level, that's the way they are."
Goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown is expected to start. Ashdown has operated as cover for Paddy Kenny this season, but has been involved for Leeds in the cup competitions.
Warnock has no major new injury or suspension worries, but hinted he could rest "one or two" players who are nursing knocks with Wednesday's league clash against Blackpool also in his plans.
"There won't be many changes, maybe one or two," Warnock said. "It'll be a strong team.
"After talking to the physios there might be one or two left out with Wednesday in mind. But they all want to play in this one."
Recent signings Steve Morison and Stephen Warnock started in Tuesday night's defeat at Middlesbrough and are both available, while striker El-Hadji Diouf and midfielder Rudy Austin are hoping to return to the starting line-up.
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