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Manuel Pellegrini claims injuries have crippled Manchester City as they prepare for Champions League action on the back of a dismal 2-0 defeat at Stoke.
Pellegrini frustrated by crippled City's injury woes

Manuel Pellegrini claims injuries have crippled Manchester City as they prepare for Champions League action on the back of a dismal 2-0 defeat at Stoke.

Pellegrini's side surrendered first place in the Premier League to Leicester following their woeful effort on Saturday and have little time to pick themselves up from a damaging loss before they face Borussia Monchengladbach at Eastlands on Tuesday.

But Pellegrini will be forced to call again on an injury-hit squad after midfielder Fernando limped off at the Britannia Stadium with a hamstring problem to join the growing list of casualties.

Captain Vincent Kompany, fellow defender Pablo Zabaleta, midfielders Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri and striker Sergio Aguero sat out Saturday's game and all five are likely to miss the Borussia tie, which City need to win to have a chance of finishing top of Group D.

"We need to play now on Tuesday. If we had the complete week to recover it might be easy but we must play again on Tuesday and are going to play with the same players that played in this game except Kelechi 

Iheanacho, who cannot play," Pellegrini said.

"Fernando has a problem with his hamstring so we will see how long he will be injured.

"We played very badly because we are playing with the same 12 or 13 players.

"It is difficult when don’t have your whole squad and you have an average of six or seven players injured every game."

- Toughest spell -

Lethargic City were punished by two first-half goals by Marko Arnautovic as Stoke claimed a deserved win and Pellegrini conceded his players were well below their best.

"We were playing with the same players as the last three games and that maybe is the reason why we didn't play with the energy we need to win," Pellegrini said.

"It is not just a matter of defending badly. We didn't create chances also.

"When we defend, all the players must be involved in defending.

"Over the complete game we didn't have the energy to compete in the same way as Stoke and it is difficult because we are the only team that is involved in all the competitions."

Despite leading the table at the start of the day, City now have just one win from their last four Premier League games as they experience their toughest spell of the season.

They improved slightly after half-time but rarely threatened a fightback after a dreadful defensive display before half-time.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes said: "It's satisfying because we've gone up against the team top of the pile in the Premier League and been able to not only match them but take the game away from them.

"I wanted to get on the front foot and to win the ball in their defensive half and then release creative players in and around the box and allow them freedom and flex to create in that final third.

"All teams have weaknesses. Every Premier League team, ourselves included, have very talented players, so if the top teams against bottom teams aren’t quite right they will come unstuck."

Source: Steve Madeley/ AFP
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