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Mancini: Europa League will force me to rotate

ESPN staff
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Roberto Mancini will rotate following Manchester City's Champions League exit © PA Photos
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Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is adamant he wants to win the Europa League this season - but will not harm the club's Premier League title defence in order to do so.

The Italian has confirmed he will put his large squad at the Etihad Stadium to full use in the New Year, as he plans to field two completely different lineups in the two competitions in order to prevent fatigue affecting his side.

With European games - potentially involving considerable travel - set to take place on Thursday and league fixtures to follow up on Sunday, Mancini sees no other option, despite being keen to walk away with the European trophy.

"Even though we can't go through to the second stage of the Champions League, it is still important we try to stay in the Europa League," Mancini said. "Our target is the Premier League - that has been the case since the start of the season - but we'll still try and stay in the Europa League.

"If in the New Year we could win the Europa League, it could be an important trophy for the club and we need to win something this season and every season.

"But if we go in the Europa League we will play different teams.

"When you play Champions League, you play on a Tuesday or Wednesday, then Saturday or Sunday in the Premier League. But with the Europa League, this is just impossible.

"If you don't get any help from the FA [with scheduling] then this is the problem with the Europa League.

"But we want to play in it. We want to stay in Europe - however, if we do, we will play two different teams, one on Thursday and another one on Sunday."

Europa League qualification is not guaranteed for the English side, however - they need to beat Borussia Dortmund away in the final Champions League group stage game and hope Ajax do not do the same against Real Madrid if they are to finish third in Group D.

City's game against Dortmund takes place on Tuesday, but Mancini will be unable to rotate as much as he would like ahead of the weekend's derby meeting with Manchester United due to injuries.

Gael Clichy, Aleksandar Kolarov, James Milner, Micah Richards and David Silva are all carrying knocks, while Yaya Toure is suspended.

He said: "We can't qualify but also we have a problem because we don't have a lot of players. All the players who are available will play [on Tuesday]."

Borussia Dortmund player to watch: Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp has promised not to take the game lightly despite already being qualified for the knockout stages, although injuries could affect his team selection somewhat. Nevertheless, if Klopp stays true to his word, gifted attacker Marco Reus could be primed to cause City significant problems cutting in from the flanks.

Manchester City player to watch: City are completely shorn of full-back options, thrusting Maicon back into a position of importance for Mancini. The Brazilian has hardly impress during his infrequent appearances for the club so far this season - this will be a chance for him to put down a marker that he still has a lot to offer.

Betting: The Premier League champions have failed to inspire confidence during their European displays so far this season. We can see Dortmund - a side of unusual attacking energy and invention - causing them significant problems, especially in the second half. The Bundesliga side to be drawing at half-time and winning at full-time is 4/1 with bet365.

Prediction: 2-0.

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