Manuel Pellegrini has dismissed suggestions he is punishing his Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany for playing for Belgium.
Kompany has been on the bench for both City games since Pellegrini expressed frustration that the defender played for his country in a Euro 2016 qualifier last week.
The 29-year-old had missed City’s previous five games with a calf injury and Pellegrini had insisted he would not be fit to play during the international break.
That proved not to be the case and Pellegrini consequently left him out of the starting line-up for games against Bournemouth last weekend and Sevilla in midweek. He has still offered no guarantees that the influential skipper will return for the Barclays Premier League leaders’ derby clash with Manchester United on Sunday.
But Pellegrini said: “I don’t have any problem with Vincent Kompany. I need every week to choose the XI that I think is the best for that game and when the others play they must wait, exactly the same for the players of the squad.
“I’m not punishing Vincent and I don’t have any problems in the relationship with Vincent.
“I think that after one month or five weeks without playing and without training you must be fit and you are not ready to play an important game. It’s important to work some days before he returns to the team.”
Kompany did appear as an injury-time substitute in the Champions League win over Sevilla on Wednesday. His late introduction did lead to some confusion as captain for the night Yaya Toure offered him the armband only for Pellegrini to stop him.
Pellegrini claims his actions have been misinterpreted by some and he was not trying to deny Kompany the captaincy, but tell Toure that he was not being substituted.
Speaking at a press conference, Pellegrini said: “The only thing that I thought was that Yaya was changing his armband because (he thought) he was leaving the pitch, but it was not Yaya, it was (Kevin) De Bruyne.”
Toure gave the armband to Kompany when he was about come on, but Pellegrino takes the armband off from him. pic.twitter.com/nWxyzKOugM— دا فا (@MD17b) October 23, 2015
For his part, Kompany is confident of hitting the ground running when he does return to the team.
The 29-year-old told NBC: “Every game I have played so far this season has been really good so I wanted to keep that going, so an injury is never a nice thing to happen at that moment.
“I came back against Israel and it was fine and I felt good and was able to produce the same level of performance again. It just has to carry on.”
The Kompany issue has overshadowed the build-up to the derby from City’s point of view but Pellegrini recognises the importance of the game.
The Chilean said: “It’s a very important three points. I always say that it’s a match of six points because it is a match against a team that is behind you, but it is not a game that will decide the title this year.”
While City were at home in the Champions League in midweek, United had to travel to Moscow.
United boss Louis van Gaal feels this will benefit City but Pellegrini does not see it that way.
He said: “I don’t think that will be a key factor. Normally the key factor in the big games are the individual performance of the players.
“Maybe if the derby was tomorrow instead of Sunday it’s a small advantage, but from Wednesday until Sunday I don’t think that United will have any problem to recover.”
City’s rivalry with United has gained a new edge in recent years following City’s elevation to the top of the domestic game.
Kompany thinks the current squad, enhanced by the summer buys of Raheem Sterling, De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi for around £130million, is the best he has experienced at the club. He does, however still retain a fondness for the side that memorably pipped United to the title in 2012 despite trailing by eight points with six games to go.
Kompany said: “It is the best squad, definitely. I think our first title win, we had something in the squad. Our personalities were massive in that squad and I think that was the way we managed to come back from that far and win it.
“I think the talent this year is bigger than it has ever been but the personality the first year was probably the biggest it has ever been.”