Football

Published: Saturday December 21, 2013 MYT 12:42:01 AM
Updated: Saturday December 21, 2013 MYT 12:42:11 AM

Aguero and Zabaleta injuries test Man City's squad depth

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (C) celebrates a goal against West Bromwich Albion with teammates Pablo Zabaleta (R) and Samir Nasri (L) during their English Premier League soccer match at the Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (C) celebrates a goal against West Bromwich Albion with teammates Pablo Zabaleta (R) and Samir Nasri (L) during their English Premier League soccer match at the Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England December 4, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

LONDON (Reuters) - Injuries to Argentina internationals Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta will test Manchester City's squad depth ahead of a crowded Christmas schedule.

Aguero could be out for up to eight weeks, manager Manuel Pellegrini said on Friday, after he suffered a calf injury against Arsenal last weekend while right back Zabaleta pulled up with a hamstring problem in the League Cup on Tuesday.

After spending millions building one of the most glittering playing rosters in European football, City will have to dig deep into their reserves ahead of matches against Fulham on Saturday and Liverpool four days later.

"Aguero could be (out for) eight weeks, could be four. We will see the way he is working, but he is improving every day," Pellegrini said on the club website (www.mcfc.co.uk).

"I am confident that he will come back as soon as he can.

"I think Pablo is not so big an injury. Maybe he will be back soon. Maybe a week or two, but the doctor will decide. I am not a doctor. Micah Richards, Matija Nastasic and Stevan Jovetic are also out."

City have an abundance of strikers to replace Aguero, but with Zabaleta and Richards both ruled out, Pellegrini has a decision to make about who to play at right back.

"We will see tomorrow who will play there. We can play Clichy, we can play Kolarov, we can play Boyata or Milner. But we will see tomorrow what is the best option," Pellegrini said.

City's mini-injury crisis could not have come at a worse time as they still have three of their nine December fixtures to play, with only two days between their Boxing Day clash at home to Liverpool and their match against Crystal Palace.

With the Premier League shunning a winter break, Pellegrini is expecting it to be a testing few days.

"We will have to play on the 26th and 28th, less than 48 hours; it is incredible that they have the two games so near. We will see after this match what is the best starting eleven for the next one," he said.

"I think that playing two games in less than 72 hours is not a good thing. The players have not recovered normally in less than 72 hours.

"All these days are very important in the Premier League, but all the other countries stop always and I think it is better for the players to have a break, a winter break, because they play too many games. But the rules are the rules and the Premier League has always been the same, so we must play."

(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Martyn Herman)

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