LONDON: Manchester City are out of Europe. They have two trophies on which to fix their attention and, for all the issues off the pitch, they remain focused during matchdays.

In the Premier League they have edged to within five points of leaders Manchester United while they stepped into the fifth round of the FA Cup after winning away to Stoke for the first time this century.

Pablo Zabaleta scored the goal which rewarded both his consistently steady form this season and his leadership after he took on the role of captain after Vincent Kompany went off injured in the first half with a calf muscle strain.

Kompany’s susceptibility to muscle strains is starting to cause concern at Eastlands. Kompany suffered calf injuries towards the end of last season and also during the club’s summer tour; in July, he had to fly home early from Malaysia for treatment.

Assistant manager David Platt said City’s rock in last season’s Premier League triumph will miss Tuesday’s visit to struggling Queens Park Rangers and perhaps Sunday’s home game against Liverpool. Platt added: “I think we’ll lose Vincent for a little while. It’s too early to say how long.”

Uncertainty remains over whether City will spring into transfer window action. They are among a number of clubs linked with Aston Villa’s Belgian top scorer Christian Benteke for whom they might press their interest if they can unload Mario Balotelli.

Manager Roberto Mancini would be devastated to concede failure in his attempt to transform Balotelli’s mental approach but if Milan come back with an reasonable offer above €20M City’s management will be happy to rid themselves of a steady source of negative headlines.

Balotelli has signalled his own intentions by putting his house on the market to rent out and flying some personal items back to Italy. If he is to follow them this week then City expect to hear from his agent Mino Raiola no later than Monday.

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