Manuel Pellegrini has included Kelechi Iheanacho in Manchester City’s Champions League squad ahead of the commencement of the round of 16 fixtures.
The City manager made the confirmation in Monday’s pre-match press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League clash away to Sunderland.
Iheanacho takes over from Samir Nasri who drops out of the squad as he is still two months away from a return.
Pellegrini admitted it was a difficult decision to make but the need for a striker had to take precedence as Wilfried Bony’s injury lay-off continues.
“Yes, Kelechi will be in the Champions League squad. I told Samir Nasri I would take him out of the list as he needs two months more to be fit. We need Kelechi now as Bony is injured too. We couldn’t take the risk to go into the last 16 game with just Kun,” Pellegrini said.
“It’s always difficult to tell a player he will not continue in the list but Samir understood perfectly that he needs at least two months more.
“It wouldn’t have been easy for him to recover his best performance in that length of time.
“We needed another striker and Kelechi is in a good moment.
“Kelechi is one player in our squad – it’s important when young players have the option to show why they’re an important player. He will continue trying to fight to start every game. For me, as a manager, you have to work with the whole squad as we have to play so many games.
“It’s important for everyone, not just for the players but for the club who’ve invested a lot of money in the training ground to have players arriving from the Academy into the first-team.
“It’s important to bring young players into the first-team but they must be good players so that we continue to be a competitive team.”
Iheanacho was in sparkling form at the weekend after he netted his first ever hat-trick in City’s 4-0 win against Aston Villa.
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