Manuel Pellegrini has revealed Kelechi Iheanacho will replace Samir Nasri in Manchester City’s 25-man Champions League squad.
The 19-year-old striker, who scored a hat-trick in Saturday’s FA Cup win at Aston Villa, was not included in the 25-man squad for the group stages because City had already filled their quota of 17 foreign players.
Nasri underwent major surgery to repair a thigh muscle and tendon in November. He has expressed hope of being back in training in March but Pellegrini believes it will still be some time before he is ready to play.
The deadline for changes to be made to the squad is Tuesday. City play Ukraine in the last 16 with the first leg in Ukraine on February 22.
Pellegrini said: “I have decided and I have told Samir Nasri I will take him out of the Champions League list because he needs at least two months more to be fit.
“We need Kelechi now because (Wilfried) Bony is also injured and we cannot take the risk that something happens with Kun (Sergio Aguero) and we don’t have a striker for the round of 16.
“So, Kelechi will be in the Champions League.”
Pellegrini made this announcement at a press conference overshadowed by his later revelation that he will be leaving the club in the summer, to be succeeded by Pep Guardiola.
The Chilean’s immediate priority is a Premier League trip to relegation-threatened Sunderland on Tuesday, which could see his team return to the top of the table if results go in their favour.
Pellegrini said: “It is always a very difficult game, they are a team fighting not to be relegated.
“They will play every ball as a final, to win the game. That happens in all games in the Premier League. If you don’t play with 100 per cent intensity and concentration you are not going to win.”