MANCHESTER CITY are not worrying about Manchester United or missing players as they look to haul themselves back into the title race.
The Premier League champions, who recorded a routine 3-0 victory over Stoke City yesterday, remain seven points behind leaders United without a clutch of stars in the coming weeks.
The most sorely missed will be midfield inspiration Yaya Toure, who is now set to link up with Ivory Coast for the African Nations Cup along with brother Kolo, the defender, and back-up forward Abdul Razak.
A fresh concern is star striker Sergio Aguero, who limped off with a hamstring injury shortly after scoring the third against Stoke from the penalty spot and will definitely miss Saturday's FA Cup tie with Watford.
A number of other players are currently sidelined but first-team coach David Platt insists there is no panic at the Etihad Stadium.
Platt said: "It is irrelevant whether Yaya disappears or not.
"The challenge is to keep winning football matches.
"We have a squad of players - we are missing Aguero for the weekend - that we will have to choose 11 from.
"Whichever 11 we put on the park we would expect to go and take the points.
"We have just got to continue to win football matches.
"We have been producing chances in games over the last month to six weeks.
"We lamented a little bit at Sunderland the chances we produced without scoring enough goals.
"Fortunately we are getting our ratios up."
City dominated from the outset against a Stoke side limited in ambition at Eastlands, and the Potters have now conceded 14 goals in five successive Premier League defeats at the ground.
Although the brilliant Aguero hit the post early on, it was not until Pablo Zabaleta pounced on a rebound two minutes before the interval that City finally broke through.
After that the result was not in doubt. Edin Dzeko tapped in a second just before the hour and Aguero converted from 12 yards after David Silva was felled by Steven Nzonzi, although replays suggested it was outside the area.
"We're happy with the result and performance," said Platt.
City will not know the full extent of Aguero's injury until Thursday but he may also struggle to make the January 13 trip to Arsenal.
Platt said: "He'll certainly be out Saturday and in my experience he'd be doubtful for Arsenal.
"It's a blow but unfortunately, when you have got so many games in a short space of time, you are running the risk with everybody."
Stoke provided little threat during the game and manager Tony Pulis made no excuses for their lacklustre display.
Pulis said: "I've no complaints, they were the better team.
"Someone has just asked me what the difference was - I said about £220million.
"Sometimes you have to open your eyes and reality stares you straight in the face."