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Pellegrini confident Yaya Toure will return from the Africa Cup of Nations as good as he left

Manchester City welcome the return of talisman Yaya Toure for their Premier League game with Newcastle. City won impressively, 4-1 at Stoke, on their last outing but had failed to win any of their previous six league outings without him.

Pellegrini said: "Yaya is always an important player for us. It is also important for him and Bony to come back winning the Africa Cup. Always the trust is better. With Yaya I suppose he will come back the same player he was before."

However, James Milner has been ruled out of the match and is doubt for their Champions League tie with Barcelona on Tuesday.

Milner, impressive this season in various positions, has taken a knock and although City are hopeful it is not serious, they are still to learn the extent of the problem.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini said: "We will see. It is not very, very serious but he couldn't work in the whole week, so we will see how he improves in the next (few) days but he has a kick in his ligament in his knee.

"He is not available for tomorrow. All the other players in the squad are fit."

Attention is already starting to turn to the visit of Catalan giants Barca, but with a seven-point deficit to leaders Chelsea in the Premier League to make up, Pellegrini wants to keep focus on Newcastle.

The Chilean is so keen to prevent the Champions League becoming a distraction that a planned player interview session for Spanish-speaking media to preview the game on Thursday was cancelled at short notice.

This attracted some negative coverage in the Spanish press but Pellegrini has promised to rearrange.

He said: "It was nothing important. I think it was not the right day to have a press conference about a game that we must play on Tuesday.

"I think it is more important to finish with Newcastle and then we can do a press conference on Sunday or Monday."

New signing Wilfried Bony is in contention to make his City debut against the Magpies.

The £25million striker has not been available since being signed from Swansea last month due to his involvement, along with key City midfielder Yaya Toure, in Ivory Coast's African Nations Cup triumph.

Bony finally linked up with the City squad earlier this week and is set to be included in the squad, although Pellegrini was offering no guarantees.

He said: "I think that Bony will be an important player for us. He will be in the squad list but we will see if he will be in the starting 11 or have some minutes after that. He has worked with our team the whole week without any problems."

The signing of Bony has led to City omitting fellow forward Stevan Jovetic from their Champions League squad. City are limited to 21 players for the competition this year - rather than the usual 25 - after breaching Financial Fair Play regulations and Jovetic has been sacrificed for the second half of the season.

The Montenegro international last week voiced his frustration at the situation but Pellegrini expects him to respond on the pitch.

He said: "I think that Stevan is a professional and he must work to try to play in the ways he knows in the matches that he can do it."

City want to build on their Stoke victory, which ended an indifferent run of five games without a win.

Pellegrini said: "It is important for us to try not to think about where Chelsea are or the other teams. It is important for us not to drop points but the only way to do it is to play well.

"But I always say Newcastle is a very good team, they have very good players. It is not easy to play against them."

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Wigan sign former Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant

Jermaine Pennant Credit: Dave Howarth/EMPICS Sport

Former Liverpool and Stoke winger Jermaine Pennant has signed a deal with injury-hit Sky Bet Championship side Wigan until the end of the season.

The 32-year-old last played in England on New Year's Day in 2014 and was a free agent having recently returned from a stint in the Indian Super League.

Pennant trained with Wigan last week and was in attendance at the DW Stadium on Friday night as their worrying form continued in a 3-0 loss to Charlton which leaves them deep in the relegation mire.

Wigan boss Malky Mackay has recently lost Emyr Huws and Chris Herd to season-ending injuries, while William Kvist and Leon Clarke were also forced off with problems against Charlton, meaning Pennant bolsters a squad lacking numbers.

Pennant has had a nomadic career across the divisions having also featured for the likes of Arsenal, Leeds, Birmingham and Wolves, while he also spent time in Spain with Real Zaragoza.

He played all 90 minutes in the 2007 Champions League final with Liverpool as they went down 2-1 to AC Milan in Athens.

"Jermaine needs no introduction in terms of what he has achieved in the game," Mackay told Wigan's official website.

"He's got terrific experience and is hungry for a way back into the English scene. There were a number of clubs interested, so we are delighted we can now call upon him to help us.

"He has been with us throughout the week and has trained excellently, he's brought a breath of fresh air to the place and we've been bowled over by his hunger and enthusiasm.

"Jermaine has integrated straight away into the group and I'm sure he's going to be a great addition for us."

Louis van Gaal says Manchester United 'can perform better'

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal says his team can play better.

United have been criticised for their lacklustre performances in recents matches.

Van Gaal is calling for his players to play well for 90 minutes when they travel to Wales to face Swansea in the Premier League.

The Dutchman has been left with another selection conundrum after he revealed Robin van Persie is back fit.

Van Persie missed the 3-1 win over Preston on Monday because of an unspecified injury, but the striker is in the squad for this weekend's game at the Liberty Stadium.

Van Persie's return means Van Gaal will have to decide whether to hand his Dutch compatriot a start at the expense of Wayne Rooney or Radamel Falcao - or drop his captain into midfield.

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