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Mancini: Blues don't have discipline problem

Captain Vincent Kompany and unpredictable striker Mario Balotelli have each seen red twice, while Gael Clichy and Gareth Barry have also headed for early baths.

However, the Italian boss laughed off suggestions that this is becoming a problem, sarcastically comparing his team to the Wimbledon side known as the 'Crazy Gang'.

"Six red cards this season – we are like Wimbledon," he joked. "My players are good players – they never want to hurt other players, that is not in their minds. But we have had two very unlucky months.

"I think we were very unlucky in the last 40 days with some situations on the pitch."

Nevertheless, Mancini wants to put the suspension and injury problems he has suffered of late behind him and push on with the club's Premier League title challenge.

The expected losses of both Yaya and Kolo Toure to the Africa Cup of Nations have not been helped by the unforeseen absences of Kompany and Balotelli through suspension and David Silva due to injury, with City dumped out of both the FA and League Cups.

But Mancini believes they won the game that they really wanted to, saying: "For us the more important game was against Tottenham for sure.

"That is not to say we didn’t want to win against Liverpool [in the Carling Cup semi-final]. We tried, but the game against Tottenham was really important for us.

"December and January have been difficult months – injuries, Yaya, players banned and now I hope we can go on and win in the Premier League if it is possible."

City face Everton on Tuesday evening at Goodison Park hoping to maintain their three-point lead at the top of the Premier League from arch rivals United.

By Phil Haigh