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Mar 12, 2011

De Jong: Euro fatigue won't affect us

Manchester City did not arrive home after their Europa League tie with Dynamo Kiev until 5am but midfielder Nigel De Jong says the loss of a night's sleep will not affect the team ahead of Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final against Reading.

David Silva on settling in Manchester

• Manchester City v Reading preview
• Man City suffer in Kiev

Manager Roberto Mancini has a policy of flying straight home after European games but a delay, believed to have been caused by issues over a gas bottle in City's medical equipment, means the players did not land in Manchester until Friday.

City lost their Europa League tie 2-0 in Kiev and after struggling to beat the Premier League's bottom side Wigan just a few days before Mancini has voiced concerns over his players' fatigue.

However, the Italian stood by his decision not to stay overnight in Kiev. "If we left on Friday, we would have lost another day," Mancini said. "Usually after a game the players don't sleep so we felt it was better to get them back and try to get them right for Sunday.

"This is one of the problems we have playing every three days. We are playing on Sunday at 5pm and I hope we can recover in time."

De Jong backed his manager's decision, saying: "I don't think it will affect us. We're not little kids any more. We've all got experience of how to handle this schedule and make sure we are right and ready for them on Sunday. I'm sure I'll be okay."

City were back in training on Friday afternoon, including striker Mario Balotelli who suffered a bizarre allergic reaction in Kiev and had to be substituted, and De Jong believes the players are fully focused on their FA Cup challenge.

"The fans obviously really want to win a trophy. So do we," the Dutchman said. "We know all about the history of this club so we know how long it's been (since a cup was secured). We are often reminded about it. Everyone knows what's at stake.

"You need that spark to go on. For us, that spark could be any cup. It doesn't matter which - the league, the FA Cup, the Europa League. It would be something to make the guys hungry for more success.

"We'd love it if it could be this year and, yes, it looks like the quickest way could be the FA Cup."

City captain Carlos Tevez, who came off the bench to replace Balotelli in Kiev, is almost certain to return to the starting line up against Reading. However James Milner is expected to be ruled out with a hamstring injury.

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