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'Super' Otamendi crucial to record run says boss Pep.

Premier League CRYSTAL PALACE v MAN CITY TOMORROW, NOON KICK OFF PEP GUARDIOLA has hailed defender Nicolas Otamendi as Manchester City's 'Superman'.

Most of the plaudits during the Premier League leaders' record 18-game winning streak have been shared among their formidable attacking players.

But centre-back Otamendi has also been vitally important, both defensively and by contributing to other aspects of play.

The Argentine, arguably City's most improved player this season, has proved a key component of the attacking build-up and has also weighed in with five goals in all competitions.

| Nicolas of the hugest says Pep City manager Guardiola said: "We have a 'Superman' in the team, as Nico Otamendi helped us absolutely.

"Without Nico, it would not be possible, what we have done.

"Everyone speaks about players such as Raheem (Sterling), like David (Silva), like Kevin (De Bruyne), like Sergio (Aguero) - and they deserve it - but if I would like to point to a player who deserves full respect for what they have done until now, it's Nico. Nico has been amazing.

"He is a guy who, even with pain in the ankle, in the knee, in the back, always fights. He's one the hugest competitors I've ever seen in my life. He was so important."

Guardiola's praise for Otamendi comes at a time when City are thought to be considering buying another centre-back in the January transfer window.

Otamendi has missed just one Premier League match this season - through suspension - but John Stones and Vincent Kompany have both had injuries, leaving Eliaquim Mangala as the only cover.

But Guardiola said: "I don't know what will happen.

"Maybe if we are in the position with Vincent and what happened to John Stones (we could buy), but we cannot forget Mangala has helped us a lot.

Otamendi is 'one competitors' Guardiola "If I have to live for the rest of the season with these players, and with the young players, we are going to live with that."

City will check on defenders Vincent Kompany, Fabian Delph and John Stones ahead of tomorrow's trip to Crystal Palace.

Kompany's calf injury is not as bad as feared while left-back Delph could return after a minor muscle problem.

Centre-back Stones is now back in training after 11 games out with a hamstring injury and closing on a return.

Palace midfielder Yohan Cabaye is a doubt and could be replaced by James McArthur.

Defender Joel Ward has been struggling with a groin problem, but he could yet return to contention.

CAPTION(S):

| Nicolas Otamendi is 'one of the hugest competitors' says Pep Guardiola

| Vincent Kompany's calf injury is not as bad as first feared and he could be involved against Crystal Palace tomorrow

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Date:Dec 30, 2017
Words:449
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