The Manchester City boss
insists he is picking the team
on merit and refused to
confirm if his captain would
return for the 170th
Manchester derby at Old
TraffordManchester City
manager Manuel
Pellegrini insists he is not
‘punishing’ Vincent Kompany
but hinted his captain may
again be benched for Sunday’s
derby with Manchester United.

Kompany has been among the
substitutes in City’s last two
matches – victories over
Bournemouth and Sevilla –
after playing 60 minutes in
Belgium’s Euro 2016 qualifier
against Israel, despite being
short of fitness.

Before the 3-1 victory in
Brussels, which sent Belgium to
number one in the Fifa world
rankings, the 29-year-old
hadn’t played since limping off
in City’s defeat to Juventus on
15 September.

The centre-half reportedly went
against Pellegrini’s wishes in
playing an hour for the Red
Devils but the City boss insisted
he is not punishing his skipper
by keeping him on the bench.

“I’m not punishing Vincent. I
don’t have a problem in my
relationship with Vincent. We
need to choose the starting
eleven that’s best,” the Chilean
told a press conference.

“It was important for him to
work some days before he
returns to the team.”

However, Pellegrini refused to
confirm if Kompany would start
the 170th Manchester derby at
Old Trafford, hinting that
Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim
Mangala are in the team on
merit.

He said: “It’s crucial to play with
the best players for the
moment. Football is moments –
now, Mangala & Otamendi are
doing well.” Pellegrini also
confirmed that a host of City
stars will miss Sunday’s short
trip across the city for a match
he described as worth ‘six
points’.

“[David] Silva, [Sergio] Aguero,
[Samir] Nasri, [Fabian] Delph &
[Gael] Clichy will miss the derby.
Maybe next week one or two of
them can start working with
the team. It will be difficult for
Nasri to return before the
international break. I hope he
will be back after those ten
days.”

With Aguero still missing,
Wilfried Bony is expected to
start up front but Pellegrini is
not opposed to experimenting
with his team.

“Last season we had a lot of
different ways to play – when
our strikers were injured, we
played with Milner and scored
goals,” he added. “We can play
in different ways and we can
win. Kevin de Bruyne is not a
striker but he could play as a
striker if we need him to.”

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