MANCHESTER -- Manuel Pellegrini has denied that Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott are unhappy at Manchester City but said that giving the right-back a new contract is not important right now.
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Neither Englishman has been a regular in the City side this season and centre-back Lescott is expected to leave the Etihad Stadium in the summer, when his contract expires.
And fellow defender Richards, who is out of contract in 2015, has only been given two league starts by Pellegrini, leading to suggestions he is considering leaving his only club.
But the City manager said at a news conference: “I don’t think they have any problems. They feel an important part of what we have done so far and they will be important in the future from now until the end of the season.”
However, Pellegrini said he is not thinking about giving Richards a new deal, adding: “I can’t answer now about that. He has one year more of contract here at the club so it is not important at this moment. The important thing is Wigan.”
City face Wigan in the FA Cup on Sunday and will again be without the injured pair of Stevan Jovetic and Matija Nastasic.
Both will also sit out Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Barcelona but could be back in contention for City’s next Premier League game, at Hull.
City lost last season’s FA Cup final to Wigan but beat them 5-0 in the Capital One Cup in September.
However, Athletic have since changed manager, with Uwe Rosler replacing Owen Coyle, and Pellegrini is anticipating a tougher game.
He said: “We play against them at the beginning of the Capital One Cup but today they are a different team. We know it is a tough game, they are playing very well and they win all their last [five] matches.”
Rosler was a City favourite in his time at Maine Road, between 1994 and 1998, but Pellegrini said: “I know he has an important link with this club also but now he is the manager of Wigan and he will want to win.”