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Mancini: Man City can mix it with elite

By: Na 24 Feb 2011 08:30:10

Mancini: Man City can mix it with elite

Roberto Mancini claims there is no reason why Manchester City's lack of Champions League experience should count against them if they manage to qualify.

City are on course for a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League this term which will hand them the chance to take on Europe's elite in 2011-12. It would be the club's first appearance in the Champions League, but Mancini does not see that necessarily being a problem for his star-studded squad.

"When you play in the Champions League for the first time, maybe you can have problems, but when I played for Sampdoria 20 years ago we got to the final (of the old European Cup) the first time we qualified," Mancini said. "In football, never say never - anything can happen."

He added: "It is clear that we are not like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Milan or Inter, teams that have played in the Champions League for a long time. But after this year, if we do well in the Europa League, it will be a good experience and all our players play for their national teams."

Earlier this week midfielder Yaya Toure talked up City's prospects, saying he thought they could be a better team than Barcelona - his old club - in the not-too-distant future.

It is something Mancini is also prepared to believe in.

"I think we need to work more, but I hope so - why not?" the manager said. "We have big possibilities for the future because we are a strong club."

Ahead of Thursday night's Europa League last-32 second leg against Aris Salonika at Eastlands, City have been hit by the news that second-choice goalkeeper Shay Given could be out of action for three months with a shoulder injury.

However striker Mario Balotelli is fit to take on Aris - with whom City drew 0-0 in last week's first leg in Greece - while Shaun Wright-Phillips is also in contention after a back problem.

Micah Richards has picked up what appears to be a calf injury so will not feature and James Milner (hamstring), Nigel de Jong and Adam Johnson (both ankle) remain in the treatment room.


PA

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