Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has defended his continued selection of defender Martin Demichelis.
The Argentine defender has been heavily criticised for his performances, particularly the one in the Champions League last-16 first leg against Barcelona which saw him sent off for conceding a penalty from which the visitors opened the scoring.
He was also found wanting in games against Watford, in the FA Cup, and during the league defeat to Chelsea at the Etihad.
Yet Demichelis has established himself as first choice in Pellegrini's central defence alongside Vincent Kompany.
"I think he is a very important player," said Pellegrini. "He is in a very good performance for the moment.
"I think Vincent Kompany and him are playing well so he is a very useful player for us."
Demichelis has moved ahead of Matija Nastasic in the pecking order at the Etihad Stadium, although the Serbian is sidelined with a knee injury.
City's other senior centre-back is England international Joleon Lescott but he appears to be heading out of the club as his contract comes to an end in the summer.
City were linked with a number of other defenders in the January transfer window, most notably Porto's Eliaquim Mangala on deadline day, but Pellegrini does not regret not forcing through a deal.
He said: "No, I don't regret it. One of the reasons we thought about that was because Joleon Lescott wanted to go, but Lescott is (still) here and with Demichelis, Nastasic and Kompany we have enough for the position."