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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

2016/2017 Season

POS TEAM W D L PTS
3 Liverpool 19 9 6 66
4 Man City 19 7 6 64
5 Man Utd 17 12 3 63
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Top four at stake in Manchester derby

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Transfer Rater: Dele Alli to Man City

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Kevin De Bruyne won't be dropped from Manchester City's UCL squad

MANCHESTER -- Kevin De Bruyne will not be axed from Manchester City's Champions League squad despite being ruled out for up to 10 weeks.

The Belgium international, who damaged his knee ligaments in Wednesday's Capital One Cup victory over Everton, is set to miss both legs of the round-of-16 clash with Dynamo Kiev.

And he will face a race to be fit for the quarterfinal legs in early April should City get past the Ukrainian side.

Striker Kelechi Iheanacho was left out of Manuel Pellegrini's European squad at the start of the season, and the City boss must remove a player from his 25-man squad if he is to include the young Nigerian.

Samir Nasri is a player who could drop out after missing five months of the season with a tendon injury, although the French midfielder could return to action ahead of De Bruyne. It leaves Pellegrini with an awkward decision on who to leave out.

Pellegrini told a news conference: "We have until Monday to make a decision but we hope Kevin will be ready at the end of March, so he will just miss the one round-of-16. So I don't think we will take him out of the Champions League list."

Asked if Nasri will miss out, the Chilean added: "We are thinking about that, we are going to make the decision on the last date that we have to send the new list.

Kevin De Bruyne has made a big contribution since joining Manchester City last summer.

"It's an option, we are talking with the doctor also to be realistic in thinking which is the less days that Samir can be again in our squad. That's a decision that we are going to take next week but it's an option of course."

Pellegrini faced a similar dilemma last season when Wilfried Bony joined the club in January in a £25m move from Swansea City. Pellegrini omitted Stevan Jovetic, who later accused the City boss of "killing" him. The Montenegrin attacking midfielder made just three substitute appearances after the decision and is now on loan at Inter Milan.

Meanwhile, Pellegrini has challenged his squad to cope with the loss of De Bruyne, who has made a big contribution since his £55m switch from Wolfsburg in August, scoring 12 goals and adding a further 12 assists.

Pellegrini said: "It's impossible to have 25 Kevin De Bruynes in the squad but I answer you the same answer for the same question about when we couldn't play with Sergio Aguero. You have some players that are impossible to replace because they are top players, but we did it. We replaced Kun, we replaced David [Silva] and we replaced Vincent Kompany -- that is why we are involved in all the competitions and three points from the leaders of the Premier League.

"Now we have to replace Kevin. If you tell me we are going to replace him with any player: No, because he is a very important player. But as a team we must find a way to replace him."

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.

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