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Football | Barclays Premier League

Pellegrini upbeat despite draw

Manuel Pellegrini insists his Manchester City squad has enough depth to cope with challenging for two major competitions despite a difficult start to an important week.

Pellegrini's side head to the Czech Republic to face Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League, a competition that has seen them fail to get out of the group stages in their previous two campaigns, on Tuesday.

After that they host Manchester United at Eastlands in the first Manchester derby of the Premier League season.

But those two key games come in the wake of a frustrating goalless draw at Stoke on Saturday that saw Pellegrini's first attempts at rotation fail to come off.

The Chilean stuck with a similar starting line-up for each of his first three Premier League games in charge but included Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo in his team for the first time at the Britannia Stadium.

Yaya Toure was the only midfielder who had started a game this season and it showed as Pellegrini's side were fortunate to hold on for a point.

But Pellegrini insists his squad can deal with the demands that will be placed on it in a busy run of matches.

"I don't think we must expect to win every match," he said. "Of course we want to win every game but it's impossible and it's a special week for us because we haven't had the players (due to the international break).

"I won't always be happy when I draw away but for this match it's good.

"We have four of five injured players that are important. From the back four, Micah Richards, Vincent Kompany and Gael Clichy are out, and David Silva is out as well and we have the Champions League on Tuesday, so it's a good point for us."

Pellegrini will make a late decision on whether Kompany, who sustained a groin problem in the 4-0 win over Newcastle in the opening match of the season, will feature on Tuesday.

He is also confident that Silva will overcome a thigh problem to play in the Manchester derby.

Joe Hart has faced significant criticism this season but kept a fifth clean sheet in five games for club and country at the Britannia Stadium and Pellegrini added: "I have trust in Joe Hart and it was a clean sheet again in the last four games and the two last games we played in the Premier League.

"That's always important for a goalkeeper and I'm sure Joe will continue with this."

Stoke are now unbeaten in four matches since their 1-0 defeat at Liverpool on the opening day of the season.

After pushing Pellegrini's team all the way at the Britannia Stadium, manager Mark Hughes believes the Potters are making significant progress.

He said: "If we keep that up we'll have a good season. We've improved and it's still early days but we've got to maintain that."

Hughes also suggested that his players felt disrespected by Pellegrini's team selection against them: "City have big games coming up, seven in 21 days, so it's a busy period.

"But maybe they picked a team they thought could win and maybe they prioritised the wrong game.


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