De Jong still important for City
Dutchman remains in City's plans despite fall down pecking order
Last Updated: January 2, 2012 5:18pm
Nigel de Jong: City midfielder still in Roberto Mancini's plans despite fall down pecking order
Manager Roberto Mancini insists out-of-favour Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong remains an integral part of his plans.
De Jong made his first start since November at Sunderland on New Year's Day and was removed at half-time by Mancini.
The Netherlands international, who had a spell out in August and September with a foot injury, is out of contract at the end of next season and is yet to agree a new deal.
Speculation has surfaced over whether the 27-year-old will remain at Ethiad Stadium but Mancini still regards him as an important player.
The manager said: "Nigel had too many problems when we started the season, two months off for injury.
"After this the squad played a different system with two strikers, two offensive players like wingers and only two midfielders.
"For this reason Nigel did not play a lot of games but he is still an important player. There is no change in this situation. Now he can play.
"I think it is normal that one player, when he doesn't play, is frustrated.
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"For him it is difficult but now we are playing five games in 16 days and we need our players."