Yaya Toure ‘in real pain’ at missing derby

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LONDON — Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has admitted he is “very sad” he won’t be allowed to play in the FA Cup third round game against Manchester United tomorrow.

Toure, along with brother Kolo, has been told he must join up with the rest of the Ivory Coast’s African Cup of Nations squad for a pre-tournament meeting in Paris today, despite a request from Roberto Mancini to allow the pair to play in the derby match before flying out to join the rest of the squad.

And Toure, who has been an instrumental player for the Premier League leaders so far this season, admits it has been a real blow for him to be forced to miss the match.

“I am very sad. Missing the FA Cup derby is a real pain after I have spent weeks trying to seek a solution,” Toure said. “But the (Ivory Coast) Federation would not accept us leaving it to Sunday. I am suffering a lot over this.”

Mancini has previously acknowledged that losing Yaya Toure for the month is a massive blow, with Roma’s Daniele De Rossi once again linked with the club as reinforcement in midfield.

“I have tried to find another Yaya in my squad, but there isn’t another Yaya,” Mancini said on Wednesday. “He is a very important player. For this reason January is a big month.

“If we can stay on the top of the table after January then I think we have a very good chance to win the league.”

Holders Manchester City are preparing to face a Manchester United thirsting for revenge on Sunday as the two rivals collide in a heavyweight FA Cup third round showdown.

City sent shockwaves around English football in October when they thrashed United 6-1 at Old Trafford, a result that Sir Alex Ferguson described as the “worst-ever day” of his career in football.

Since that memorable victory at the home of their rivals, City have kept their noses in front of United in the Premier League title race and head into tomorrow’s encounter having opened up a three-point lead at the top of the table.

United’s preparations for Sunday’s clash at Eastlands could not have been worse, with Ferguson’s men reeling from back-to-back league defeats against Blackburn and Newcastle.

Nevertheless history would appear to favour United, who have not lost three consecutive games for more than a decade.