Yaya Toure: 4 Manchester City Candidates to Cover During African Cup of Nations
Yaya Toure's departure for Gabon and Equatorial Guinea leaves a 6'3” gap in the Manchester City midfield. With the colossal midfielder on international duty at the African Cup of Nations until February, several players will have the opportunity to plug the Ivorian gap left gaping in the centre of the pitch.
Financial Fair Play regulations mean that Roberto Mancini will more than likely have to find the solution from within the club rather than simply outsourcing a short-term solution.
Nigel de Jong
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Nigel de Jong has been on the periphery for most of the season, following an opening-day injury and the formidable partnership formed by Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry. The Dutch midfield enforcer started the Manchester derby and will seek to reaffirm his position as a vital member of the City team following an excellent 2010/11 season.
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James Milner's versatility has seen the former Aston Villa man deployed in a variety of positions this season, but he started the FA Cup derby in a central role alongside Nigel de Jong. An impressive second-half performance from the tireless midfielder has shown Milner as a potential candidate to work with Gareth Barry in Toure's absence.
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Owen Hargreaves continued his footballing comeback with a 10-minute cameo against Manchester United, but a gradual reintroduction to action is more likely than a starting position due to the former Bayern Munich man lacking match fitness.
Hargreaves' last start was in the Carling Cup victory at the Emirates Stadium, with a Premier League start still evading the summer signing. With his contract expiring in six months, the January/February period will be vital in ensuring Hargreaves has a long-term future at the club.
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Abdul Razak has impressed in his limited first-team opportunities so far. After making his Premier League debut against West Brom in February of last year, Razak has featured just three times this term. A national compatriot of Toure, the 19-year-old box-to-box midfielder has drawn natural comparisons to Toure due to his style of play.
Highly rated and extremely talented, it would be no surprise to see Razak becoming a more prominent member of the squad before the season's end.