Manchester City are set to hand home debuts to Patrick Vieira and Adam Johnson as they look to revive their faltering Premier League campaign against Bolton on Tuesday.
A surprise 2-1 defeat away at struggling Hull on Saturday has dented City manager Roberto Mancini's hopes of sealing a top four Premier League finish and a spot in next season's UEFA Champions League. But City entertain relegation-threatened Bolton at Eastlands knowing a win will see them leapfrog Tottenham and Liverpool into fourth spot.
Mancini is set to make changes to his team after suffering the second league defeat since he took over from Mark Hughes in December. Former Arsenal midfielder Vieira, who joined from Inter Milan last month, got his first taste of Premier League action for five years when he came on as a substitute against Hull.
Johnson, a £7 million signing from Middlesbrough last week, also climbed off the bench to make his first appearance in a City shirt, and Mancini hinted that both could have handed bigger roles to play against Bolton. "Patrick will start as long as he doesn't have a reaction in his calf and there was no indication he had one immediately after the game," said the Italian.
It was Craig Bellamy who made way for Vieira just after the hour mark at Hull on Saturday. Despite not scoring in his last 10 appearances, Mancini said the Welsh international remains an important part of his plans at the City of Manchester stadium. "Craig is an influential member of the team," added the Italian.
"He is very strong and quick and always gives the team one hundred percent each time he plays for us. It's not hard to understand why the City fans love him so much. "He gives me a number of options and he has the kind of pace defenders fear. He is a vital part of my team and I'm very happy he's here."
Bolton, hovering just one point above the relegation zone, face a defensive crisis as Gary Cahill, Andy O'Brien and Gretar Steinsson are all out on the sidelines. Cahill was a shock absentee from the side that drew 0-0 with Fulham on Saturday, and it has since emerged that the influential defender picked up a shoulder injury in training on Friday. Iceland international Steinsson was included in the side to face Fulham but felt ill in the warm up and had to be replaced by Paul Robinson.
O'Brien, who stepped in to replace Cahill, also had to leave the field after picking up a knock midway through the second half. With no other recognised defender on the bench, midfielder Chris Basham was forced to play in central defence.
It is a headache that Bolton boss Owen Coyle could have done without as he desperately attempts to steer the club, who have picked up just one win in the past seven games, away from trouble. It means Danny Shittu could make a rare start in central defence with Jlloyd Samuel also in line for a recall.