Roberto Mancini expects key midfielder Yaya Toure to leave Manchester City for the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in January.
The City manager had wanted to retain Toure's services during the early part of 2013 but has confirmed the midfielder is keen to compete in the tournament.
Toure is expected to join up with the Ivory Coast squad following the Premier League club's third round FA Cup tie on January 5.
Mancini said: "I think he will go to the African Nations Cup after the Watford game."
Toure was involved in the 2012 competition when the Ivory Coast reached the final before losing to Zambia on penalties. Next year's competition runs from January 19 to February 10.
Meanwhile, Mancini believes skipper Vincent Kompany has only a 'two per cent' chance of being fit for Saturday's trip to Newcastle after he suffered a groin injury against Manchester United last Sunday.
And while City will give the Belgium international every chance of making the trip to St James' Park, Mancini doesn't expect him to make it.
"We will try but it is difficult," said Mancini. "Probably two per cent chance."
City head to the North-East six points adrift of United following last weekend's game at the Etihad Stadium.
Yet despite that 3-2 defeat, Mancini insists he has total belief in his squad, and that City actually proved themselves to be the superior side no matter what the result.
"We showed that we were better than Manchester United," said Mancini. "But they have more experience than us and it is not a problem to them when they fall behind.
"We need to work hard but we can recover this position. By February everything could have changed."
And the Blues boss also played down talk of nets being required to preserve player safety after Rio Ferdinand was hit by a coin as United celebrated Robin van Persie's injury-time winner.
"Football here is beautiful," said Mancini. "People here are very close to the players. I am very sorry for what happened in the derby. I hope it won't happen again. But football is better without nets."
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