1:10pm Wednesday 2nd January 2008
Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has vowed not to risk the long-term fitness of star man Elano as Manchester City look to recover their early season momentum against Newcastle on Wednesday.
The Brazilian was one of the central figures in City's superb start to the campaign but his performances have faded somewhat, and Eriksson is being cautious over a minor injury Elano picked up a couple of months ago.
"We must be careful with Elano," said Eriksson.
"He is not 100% fit and has not been for some time, which is a real pity for us.
"He is an important player for us and we will not take any risks with him at all."
He added: "He had to travel a lot for internationals and then he got injured, so we will have to monitor him carefully."
A fit and firing Elano would certainly present Newcastle's ailing defence with a major problem.
Without an away win since the opening day victory at West Ham, City know a success on Tyneside would really pile the pressure on Magpies boss Sam Allardyce ahead of a must-win FA Cup tie at Stoke.
Yet Eriksson has no doubt Allardyce will not allow himself to be distracted by the flak that has been flying in his direction recently.
"Every time you have a team or a club which is not doing exactly what the fans and media expect, the pressure is there," said Eriksson.
"I think we have to live with that.
"I don't know how much pressure Sam Allardyce is under but I do know he has a very thick skin and I don't think anyone will break him down.
"Everyone knows he is a very good manager and if they give him time, I know he will change things for Newcastle.
"I am quite sure he is the right man for that big job."
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