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Jan 31, 2010

City players were wearing "Team Bridge" t-shirts

Roberto Mancini revealed some of Manchester City's players wore shirts bearing the words "Team Bridge'' in support of team-mate Wayne Bridge during Sunday's Premier League win over Portsmouth.

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Bridge is still missing with a knee injury but the City stars felt it was important to show their backing for the England full-back, who has found himself at the centre of a media storm following allegations England captain John Terry had an affair with the 29-year-old's former girlfriend.

And the City players showed whose side they are on with their statement, which Roberto Mancini recognised.

"The players are very close to Wayne,'' Mancini said. "He is a fantastic player and a good guy. It was a nice gesture.''

In a statement released yesterday, Bridge outlined his intention not to speak about Terry's relationship with Vanessa Perroncel and was interested only in the welfare of their three-year-old son.

But Bridge is known to be deeply distressed about the situation, not least because he regarded Terry as his friend, even to the extent of quitting the England team.

City captain Kolo Toure preferred to focus on football matters after the game, insisting that City can break into the top four this season.

"We have good players and the determination," Toure said. "We are now working very hard and we have a chance to be in the top four, so why not? Yes, we can, definitely.''

And Mancini also hailed his team's efforts, picking out the returning Emmanuel Adebayor for particular praise. The Togo striker scored in his first appearance since the horrific experience at the African Nations Cup when three of his country's backroom staff, including their driver, were killed in a gun attack on their team bus.

"I am very happy for Emmanuel to score this goal,'' Mancini said. "It was an incredible situation he has been involved in. For his sake I hope he can forget it but I think both he, and his family, know he has been very lucky.''

Vincent Kompany added another with a powerful header in first half stoppage time that ensured City gained maximum points against a limited Portsmouth outfit without ever getting near to their best.

"Physically we were probably a bit tired after the Manchester United game last Wednesday,'' Mancini said. "There are three or four teams who are pushing for fourth spot and we will keep fighting until the end of the season to get it.''

It was also confirmed Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta broke his nose in a first half collision with Kevin-Prince Boateng, while a deadline-day move for Parma's Kenyan midfielder McDonald Mariga is anticipated.

Portsmouth boss Avram Grant declined to speak with the written press after the game, preferring to wait until the transfer window has passed before offering his opinions on the crisis at Fratton Park.

It was however confirmed the player's wages are expected to be paid tomorrow - financed through the sale of Younes Kaboul to Tottenham - just one day late.

Coach Paul Groves claimed Portsmouth's performance said a lot about the players' character, although he admitted he had no idea how many more players would be sold before tomorrow's 5pm GMT deadline.

"It is not a question I can answer,'' he said. "Obviously once 5pm comes around then we can start moving forward again.''

However, Groves said he expected goalkeeping duo David James - who featured this afternoon - and Asmir Begovic - whose move to Tottenham has collapsed - to still be at the club tomorrow evening, in addition to Grant.

"Avram has already shown his commitment to the club,'' said Groves. "He is being positive and working very hard to try and get some results. We are not in this for professional pride. We are in this to win matches.''