Wilfried Bony, Jesus Navas and Eliaquim Mangala return to Manchester City squad for League Cup final with Liverpool
Manuel Pellegrini expects Wilfried Bony, Jesus Navas and Eliaquim Mangala to be a part of Manchester City’s League Cup final squad after the trio trained on Friday ahead of Sunday’s clash with Liverpool.
Striker Bony and central defender Mangala, who was an unused substitute in the Champions League on Wednesday, have not featured since early January due to respective calf and hamstring injuries, while Navas has missed the previous four games with a hamstring strain of his own.
“Wilfried Bony, Mangala and Navas are training now with the squad so the three of them are available for the game,” said Pellegrini.
However, captain Vincent Kompany, ex-Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling and full-back Bacary Sagna, who has been troubled by a knee problem, did not work with the rest of the group at City’s training ground on Friday morning after initially being present for Pellegrini’s address to the squad.
The Chilean explained that the three players were all doing separate recovery work having each played 90 minutes on Wednesday when City recorded a 3-1 win in Kiev in the Champions League.
“They are recovering from the last game that they played,” Pellegrini added.
“For different reasons, the recovery of the players that played the complete game is not the same for all of them. They have different ways of recovering but I hope the three of them will be fit for Sunday.”
City have a chance to clinch the season’s first piece of silverware at Wembley and, despite being eliminated from the FA Cup when a weakened side were thrashed 5-1 at Chelsea last weekend, they could still achieve a treble in Pellegrini’s swansong campaign.
The departing boss believes a victory over Jurgen Klopp’s Reds can propel them to further glory this term, as it did in his maiden season two years ago when they followed up a League Cup final win over Sunderland with a Premier League title.
“It was a very important season,” Pellegrini recalled.
“This season is different but to win in February, one title, that gives you a lot of trust to try to continue fighting in the other competitions.
“After we finish on Sunday we have to return to the Premier League, we have another 36 points to fight for. We are six points behind the leaders but we will continue fighting until the end and we are not giving up. It gives you a lot of trust if you win this title.”
City will come up against Liverpool on neutral turf just three months on from a shock 4-1 home loss to Klopp’s side in the league.
Pellegrini was reluctant to dissect that loss further on Friday and does not think it will have a psychological effect on the team he picks to walk out at Wembley.
“Liverpool made a very good game here at the Etihad,” he said. “We make a lot of mistakes in the first 15 minutes so they decide the game early, but all the games are different.”
talkSPORT has live commentary of Sunday’s League Cup final between Liverpool and Manchester City, kick-off 16:30