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KEVIN KEEGAN will not train all his big guns on TNS from the start of tonight's Uefa Cup tie.
The Manchester City chief will resist the temptation to play three strikers in the search for a huge first leg lead.
Instead he will stick to the tried and tested partnership of Nicolas Anelka and Robbie Fowler to kick- start the home side's first European campaign in almost a quarter of a century.
"For a start I don't think Paulo Wanchope is ready for a full 90 minutes because the most he has played is about 40," reasoned Keegan.
"The next stage with Paulo is to get him through 60 minutes whether that be in the first team or the reserves. He is coming along great.
"Jon Macken is now fitter than he has been at any time since he has been at the club, but the two in possession of the shirts are scoring goals. Nicolas has been more prolific than Robbie but that could change against TNS.
Keegan has admitted it would be a 'disaster' if the Blues failed to overcome the qualifying hurdle and his side goes into the contest at prohibitive odds against the Welsh League side.
They will be looking to better their best ever European goals tally of five - achieved against SK Lierse and FC Schalke in lifting the Cup Winners Cup in 1969-70 - but if they are to do so, will need plenty of creativity from midfield.
In the absence of Antoine Sibierski who signed from Lens after the deadline, the Blues are likely to look to Eyal Berkovic in central midfield.
There are likely to be few changes to the side that started the Blue Camp showpiece friendly with Catalan giants Barca though Aussie Danny Tiatto could step down after winning rave reviews from the manager.
German star Michael Tarnat is fit again and ready to resume his promising partnership with Trevor Sinclair.
"Michael Tarnat will play. He is back in training after missing Sunday's friendly with a slight knock," reported the manager. "Had that been a cup final he would have played. The extra few of days have done him good."
Despite being suspended for the opening two Premiership games, Dutch ace Paul Bosvelt will start in central midfield against TNS and will do so with a plaudit from the manager.
"Paul did terrific against Barcelona because he had some big holes to fill. Ronaldinho kept coming back in there and there are not many better than him that's for sure, but Paul handled it all so well," said Keegan.
"He just said that he felt there had maybe been too big an area for him to cover. He said maybe we were a bit too attack-minded at times eventhough it looked good. Paul knows the game inside out and is a real man. He does not back way from anything and having him on the pitch is like having an extra coach out there."
Meanwhile, Saints will be without central defenders Steve Evans and Tommy Holmes, both injured, but the rest of the squad are reported fit.
CITY (probable): Seaman; Sun, Sommeil, Distin, Tarnat; Wright-Phillips, Berkovic, Bosvelt, Sinclair; Anelka, Fowler. Subs from Weaver, Nash, Dunne, Horlock, Wiekens, Wanchope, Macken, Barton, Tiatto.
14 August 2021