WEST BROMWICH, December 25 – Manchester City’s attacking injury problems remain ahead of Friday’s trip to West Bromwich Albion, but manager Manuel Pellegrini expects better news concerning on-loan midfielder Frank Lampard before 2015 arrives.
Lampard’s loan move from City’s sister club New York City in Major League Soccer is due to expire at the end of the month.
But Pellegrini is confident he will sign the 36-year-old for the remainder of the season, regardless of whatever difficulties it may present to the American club as they prepare for their inaugural season.
“I hope Frank’s situation will be resolved in the next days,” said Pellegrini, whose side trail leaders Chelsea by three points in the Premier League.
“I said in the beginning it will be during December we are going to have the last decision. I repeat, Frank is very important for our team so I hope he will stay here.
“I don’t think it will upset New York. That is why we have long conversations with all of them. That is just one club, so I think that what is better for the club is better for all the clubs.”
While Lampard will be part of the City squad at The Hawthorns on Friday, Pellegrini will be without his injured front-line forwards Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and, most damagingly of all, leading scorer Sergio Aguero.
Jovetic may play again before the turn of the year, with City hosting Burnley on Sunday, but Dzeko and Aguero are expected to be sidelined until the second half of January.
Club captain Vincent Kompany is also due to return from injury over that period, but in any case, City have hardly stuttered during their current personnel problems.
The defending Premier League champions will take an eight-game winning run in all competitions to West Brom, while the four games since Aguero injured his hamstring at the start of the month have all ended in victory.
– Irvine not fussy –
“I think we need them as soon as we can,” said Pellegrini of his injured players.
“They must be fresh, but it is better for them to be playing so they will be playing in 100 percent of their possibilities.
“When you come back from long injuries, you always need some games to return to your normal performance.
“We have a team. We have a squad for the whole year. We make some rotations. It is important the whole squad arrives at the end of the year with the freshness.”
James Milner, pressed into emergency action as a lone striker in City’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace last Saturday, is likely to continue in that role against West Brom.
West Brom head coach Alan Irvine said: “A lot has been made of the fact that they didn’t have any striker for the game against Crystal Palace, and they won 3-0. It just shows the quality of the players that they’ve got in the squad.”
Irvine is looking for a reaction after the disappointment of watching his team surrender a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at Queens Park Rangers last weekend.
“I am still desperately disappointed and I need this game to move on completely, but as far as the performance overall was concerned, it was a really good performance,” he added.
“I’d take a scrappy win every week and then start getting fussy about the level of performance. I don’t know too many managers who wouldn’t say the same thing, because in the end it is about getting the points.”
West Brom striker Victor Anichebe is unavailable with a groin problem, but captain Chris Brunt is in line to return following hamstring trouble.