City set to lose Toure brothers
Manchester City's hopes of having Kolo and Yaya Toure available for Sunday's FA Cup tie with Manchester United appear doomed.
Earlier today, Blues manager Roberto Mancini expressed the hope that the pair would be allowed to join the Côte d'Ivoire squad for this month's CAF Africa Cup of Nations slightly later than planned, which would allow them to feature in the third-round tie at the Etihad Stadium.
Mancini said he expected to learn within 24 hours whether the Toures would be excused a planned squad gathering in Paris on Saturday before they fly to Abu Dhabi for a two-week training camp. City were unaware of any official developments this lunchtime.
However, Côte d'Ivoire coach Francois Zahoui has apparently said no. "Clubs know the rules," Zahoui told BBC Africa. "I'm expecting them [the Toures] for the FIFA deadline."
If confirmed, the news will be a major blow for City, whose manager has revealed he may struggle to fill his bench on Sunday.
Gareth Barry is suspended, Owen Hargreaves is not considered fit enough to be involved, and Mario Balotelli is troubled by an ankle injury that prevented him playing against both Sunderland and Liverpool.
"We have 17 players," said Mancini. "I do not know how it is going to work. I always said we could have a problem in January. Yaya is an important player for us.
"Kolo is different. We have eight defenders and if we are lucky, we don't have any injuries. In midfield we have a big problem. On Sunday we only have James Milner and Nigel de Jong available."