x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Premier League previews: Man City coach Platt brushes off Balotelli AC Milan speculation

Manchester City face a selection dilemma in defence for match against QPR, Stoke's Glenn Whelan free to face Wigan Athletic.

Mario Balotelli may face QPR tonight. Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
Mario Balotelli may face QPR tonight. Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

Manchester City have continued to play down speculation that Mario Balotelli could leave the club for AC Milan.

Roberto Mancini, the City manager, has consistently said his fellow Italian is not for sale throughout this month's transfer window but that has not quashed rumours linking him with the San Siro club.

Milan have made clear their liking for the 22-year-old striker but have previously baulked at City's reported £28 million (Dh161.6m) valuation.

Now fresh reports have emerged claiming negotiations between the clubs have begun but City's public message on the matter has not changed.

David Platt, the first-team coach, said yesterday: "I saw that speculation but I've not heard anything. As far as we are concerned I think he is still a Manchester City player. I don't think there is anything going to happen."

Platt was speaking on Mancini's behalf at a press conference ahead of City's trip to bottom side Queens Park Rangers tonight, with a victory allowing City to close the gap to the leaders Manchester United to two points, for 24 hours at least, until United entertain Southampton tomorrow.

Despite the speculation Balotelli, who missed Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round victory at Stoke City because of illness, is expected to be available for tonight's game.

However, Vincent Kompany, the club captain, will be missing after straining his calf at the Britannia Stadium and the Belgian is also doubtful for Sunday's clash with Liverpool.

Platt said: "It could be a fortnight, it could be three weeks. We'll know more this morning.

"My experience of calf strains would be no chance for tomorrow, Liverpool a big doubt with an outside chance, but that would depend on the gravity of it.

"In all honesty you're probably looking at the game after that being a potential realistic target."

Kompany's absence increases City's defensive problems with Kolo Toure on international duty and Matija Nastasic also doubtful with a minor knee injury.

Platt denied City would look to sign another defender before the close of the transfer window on Thursday, adding: "We'll find out soon, but it's not a six-month gap, it's not something ridiculous that we feel we can't do with the squad that we've got available."

"We're at Manchester City. It's a top club that competes for top trophies and as a result of that you can't just get anybody and think they are going to fill the gap that somebody leaves."

* Press Association

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