• League Cup

Pellegrini could hand 'Mini Messi' debut

ESPN staff
September 23, 2014
Robson: City should extend Lampard deal

Manuel Pellegrini could hand highly-rated teenager Jose Angel Pozo - who has been billed as the 'Mini Messi' - his Manchester City debut against Sheffield Wednesday as the League Cup winners find themselves short of strikers.

Pozo joined from Real Madrid's academy for £2.4 million in 2012 and has been prolific for City's youth teams, drawing comparisons to Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.

Jose Angel Pozo in action during the Manchester Senior Cup final last month © Getty Images

The 18-year-old was considered for a place on the bench for Sunday's 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the Premier League after being drafted into the 20-man squad and could now be set for his senior bow with Sergio Aguero (knee) joining Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) on the sidelines.

"Pozo is the in squad list," Pellegrini said. "We will see on Wednesday if he will play. There will be some changes as Agüero has a kick in his knee, David Silva has a problem in his ankle and Pablo Zabaleta is suspended. Fernando and Jovetic will continue recovering from their injuries and Samir Nasri has a groin injury."

Pozo scored on his last outing for City's Elite Development Squad, in a 4-1 win against their Bayern Munich counterparts in the Champions League.

The Spaniard is regarded as the most likely candidate among the club's youth prospects to break into the first team and, with Edin Dzeko City's only available senior striker on Wednesday, could get an early chance to prove his credentials.

"I hope that Kun is just a kick and it wasn't good for him to take a risk to play but he will play against Hull on Saturday without any problems," Pellegrini added. "Jovetic will need two or three more days and with those two players at 100% and Dzeko too, we won't have any problems."

Pellegrini will give some of his fringe players a chance to impress and hinted goalkeeper Willy Caballero, who has not featured since the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal, could play his first home game.

"We will see who will start," Pellegrini said. "Willy Caballero will have one or two games in a row because he's a keeper and needs to play. Matija Nastasic and also [Dedryck] Boyata, we will see when they have the opportunity to do it."

Pellegrini also hailed £32 million summer signing Eliaquim Mangala for his fine performance on his belated debut in Sunday's 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

"First of all I think it was very important for Mangala to work for a month with us before he started playing," Pellegrini added.

"It was more important for him to delay it and know how to do it. I was very happy with the way he played on Sunday because he had a feeling of power, he's a very strong defender and he's a player with a lot of experience.

"He's not a young player playing for the first time but it's always difficult to do it for the first time in the Premier League. For him it was a very good experience and he will continue to be part of our squad."

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