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Mancini: City have been hit hard

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini thinks that only European champions Barcelona could cope with the huge number of absentees that the club have to deal with at present.

Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, David Silva and Vincent Kompany all missed the midweek Carling Cup defeat to Liverpool for various reasons - the Toures are at the African Nations Cup, Silva is injured and Kompany suspended - while Mario Balotelli had to be replaced at half-time with an ankle problem.

But, despite the investment that has gone into the side, Mancini has been vocal in his calls for more squad depth as the side look for a win that would re-establish their three-point lead at the top of the Premier League at Wigan on Monday night. Indeed, the Italian is adamant only one side could successfully overcome the problems he is faced with.

"Maybe Barcelona could. Manchester City no," he said. "In four or five years, Manchester City probably yes. But not now. When I said one month ago that December and January would be the crucial months it was because I know football.

"Every year in every squad you have one difficult moment. At the moment we are not strong and we have lost important players, so it is difficult."

Meanwhile, Gareth Barry believes Manchester City must be prepared to win ugly.

After steamrollering their way through the first half of the domestic campaign, City have suddenly encountered their first major hurdle. One win in five games includes an FA Cup exit to Manchester United last week and with injuries, suspensions and international calls biting deep into their squad, City must roll up their sleeves and counter anything rock-bottom Wigan hit them with.

''This is the time when people will really be watching us, to see how we respond to this sticky patch,'' said England midfielder Barry. ''If it means going there, not playing great football and battling to get a victory, we might have to do that.

''You can't dominate the whole league playing fantastic football and winning every game easily. Sometimes you have to battle and scrape a result in the last minute.

''Wigan is set up for that sort of game. Everyone in the dressing room has to roll up their sleeves and be ready to do it.''

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