Manchester derby: City boss Manuel Pellegrini denies Vincent Kompany rift
Manchester, United Kingdom: Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists he has no problems with Vincent
Kompany - but has given his captain no guarantees that he will be recalled for Sunday's Premier League derby against United.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini. Pic/AFP
Kompany has played just two minutes for the club since defying his manager's wishes by featuring for Belgium in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Israel. Pellegrini did not want the centre-back to play for his country during the last international break, wanting him instead to spend more time recuperating from a calf injury.
Kompany suffered the injury during the 2-1 Champions League home defeat against Juventus on September 15, with Nicolas Otamendi since establishing himself as Eliaquim Mangala's regular central defensive partner. City have not kept a clean sheet this season without Kompany in the side, but Pellegrini has hinted that he is prepared to stick with Argentina international Otamendi alongside Mangala at Old Trafford.
Pellegrini said: "I don't have any problem with Vincent Kompany. I will pick the starting XI I think will be best for the game. "I'm not punishing Vincent. I have no problem in my relationship with Vincent. After five weeks without playing, you must be fit. He must be fit before he returns." Kompany was an unused substitute as City retained the leadership of the Premier League by beating Bournemouth 5-1 last Saturday. He then came on for the final two minutes of stoppage time on Wednesday as Pellegrini's side secured a late and dramatic 2-1 Champions League win over Sevilla.
Asked why he brought on Kompany for Kevin De Bruyne at that moment, Pellegrini said: "We had just scored to make it 2-1, and they were going to put a lot of crosses in the box, so it was important he was there. "For me, the most crucial thing is to play with the best players I have at the moment." Pellegrini has indicated that he feels Otamendi and Mangala are his in-form defenders going into Sunday's meeting with Manchester United.
"I think that both of them are in a good moment, as were Vincent and Mangala at the beginning of the season," the manager said. Pellegrini will remain without several injured players for the trip to Old Trafford, with Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Fabian Delph, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy all unavailable.
Top scorer Aguero will be out for at least another three weeks with the hamstring injury sustained while on international duty with Argentina earlier this month. Nasri, who has been dogged by hamstring trouble in recent weeks, missed the win over Sevilla, and is also not expected to return for another three weeks. Pellegrini said: "It be difficult for Samir to return before the international break."
The manager, meanwhile, has expressed his support for the fans who booed the Champions League anthem before the win over Sevilla. City have been reported to UEFA over the incident, with fans understood to be angry at the club being sanctioned under Financial Fair Play restrictions, and at the decision to play a match against CSKA Moscow behind closed doors in last season's competition.
Fans were annoyed that they were punished when the sanction was imposed against the Russian club for a series of offences, which included racist chanting. Pellegrini said: "I think everyone has the right to express how they feel. "I don't know why UEFA thinks these things about our fans. The fans pay for a ticket and they can express how they feel."