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Mancini ready to axe underperformers

Roberto Mancini is prepared to wield the axe and drop Manchester City's underachievers after their title hopes all but ended with Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Southampton.

• Blog: Tilting at windmills

The City manager was unhappy with his players' attitude and accused them of shirking their responsibilities after a loss that, together with Manchester United's 2-0 win over Everton, left them 12 points behind their neighbours with 12 games remaining.

And he has promised to omit some of them for Sunday's FA Cup tie against Leeds as City pursue the only piece of silverware available to them this season.

Joe Hart and Gareth Barry, who gifted Southampton goals at St Mary's, are reported to be in danger of losing their places in the team, along with City's goalscorer Edin Dzeko and the disappointing Samir Nasri.

Joleon Lescott and Javi Garcia, who struggled at centre-back, could also be left out when captain Vincent Kompany is fit again to partner Matija Nastasic in the middle of the defence.

Mancini told the Manchester Evening News: "I will change the players next week. I only want players who are ready for the fight in the last 12 games.

"I am very angry with a lot of my players, and very disappointed at the performance, because it is impossible to play the way we did.

"We didn't fight for every ball. We can't always win by playing well - that is normal. Sometimes we play well and win, but you also need to be able to win because you fight for every ball, and fight against an opponent who also wants to win the game.

"We now have 12 games left, need to do well in the Premier League, and we have the FA Cup - there are games left and we can do better. We need to finish the season the way we did last year."

Mancini could also recall James Milner, who was only a substitute at Southampton, for the clash with Neil Warnock's team while City are waiting to see if Carlos Tevez, who was unavailable for personal reasons, will be back in contention to give them another option in attack.

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