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By ESPN Staff

Zabaleta could miss Man City's trip to Wigan

Defender Pablo Zabaleta is a doubt for Manchester City's Premier League match at Wigan in just over a week's time after he returned home early from international duty.

The Argentina right-back travelled to South America despite reporting a hamstring problem after Monday's draw with Aston Villa.

Zabaleta has not played for his country since the Beijing Olympics over a year ago but was named in Diego Maradona's squad for crucial World Cup qualifiers against Peru and Uruguay.

However, the 24-year-old's participation was always in doubt from the moment he complained of a problem having come off after 90 minutes at Villa Park.

"Pablo is coming back,'' said City boss Mark Hughes. "He's been with the Argentinian FA who have checked him out, as after the game last Monday he said that he had felt something with the last kick of the game. He'd felt a slight strain in the hamstring but he needed to travel to Argentina to get it verified.

"Pablo's not played that many games, and there is always a danger that this kind of thing might happen to someone who, like Pablo, has not played as much as others. It's a disappointment for him. Argentina have two crucial games and he wanted to be part of that, but it wasn't to be.

"He's played very well of late and that was flagged to the powers that be in Argentina. It would have been great for him to get the recognition for his good form, but it is unfortunate that he's going to miss out. He'll be back today and once we get him scanned hopefully it will not be as bad as feared.

"But as it stands you have to say that there is a real doubt that he would be available for our game next weekend.''

Hughes is more optimistic about centre-back Kolo Toure's chances of facing the Latics at the DW Stadium. Earlier this week the Ivory Coast defender insisted he would be ready, having pulled out of international duty against Malawi.

"Kolo got a really bad bang on the heel pad of his right leg which was very sore immediately after the (Villa) game,'' he told the club's official website. "He was checked out and it was felt that it was not advisable for him to join up with his country.

"He would probably not have been able to train and would have been touch-and-go for the game. He's been kept back and has had treatment. The hope is that he'll be okay but we'll have to see how it settles down over the next few days.''

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