Roberto Mancini’s side host the Magpies at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has criticised captain Vincent Kompany after he ignored advice from the club over the management of his comeback from injury.
The Belgium defender has not played for the reigning Premier League champions City since damaging a calf muscle in January.
But the influential centre-back figured in a World Cup qualifying match this week, much to the annoyance of his club manager.
If Kompany suffers no adverse reaction to his appearance in the 1-0 win against Macedonia, he will lead out his City team-mates for the first time in two months against Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
But Mancini, who has conceded the title to runaway leaders Manchester United, made it clear he was not happy with his skipper.
Having tried to persuade the defender not to join up with the Belgium squad, he said that he had expected Kompany to return “in a day or two” after checking in with the national team for medical formalities.
“Sometimes the player has to understand that the club is more important,” Mancini said.
“I’m not saying that international football is not important, because I never say to my players ‘Don’t go to the national team.’
“But there are some cases when the club is more important – all the players should understand this. The responsibility is also the player’s.
“I tried to explain to the Belgium manager (Marc Wilmots) when Vinny was first injured, but probably he didn’t understand very well. It’s not that I don’t want him to go in the national team, but in this case it was impossible.
“It is not correct, because for 60 days he didn’t play for us. The club pay his salary every month. We did everything, and he went to play in the national team.
“If he had got another injury, or if on Saturday he’s not ready to play because he played for the national team, and I lose him for another month, for me this is not correct for the player or the manager.
“I talked to him, but I can’t put him in jail for two weeks. I said: ‘Stay here to have more treatment but don’t go to play. It would be taking a risk for us because these next two months are really important.’ He said the manager called him and he should go.”
Mancini, who will have striker Sergio Aguero back from injury against Newcastle, is urging his players to finish their campaign strongly, with second place yet to be secured.
“Every time we play against Newcastle, it’s a difficult game. They have changed three or four players and they have a good team and are doing very well in the Europa League,” said the Italian.
Newcastle are not yet clear of relegation danger, but Papiss Cisse believes they should have more lofty aims than mere survival in their final eight league games.
Alan Pardew’s side enjoy a six-point cushion over the bottom three, but Senegal international Cisse claimed: “We have enough games left now to take us to a top-10 finish.
“It’s what the manager wants, and it’d be important for us and give us a solid foundation to build from for next season. Looking at our remaining games, we feel we can come up with the wins needed to do that.”
Massadio Haidara is making good progress following thigh and knee injuries sustained in a sickening challenge by Wigan Athletic’s Callum McManaman, but the French defender is not yet in contention to return.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Dutch international goalkeeper Tim Krul hopes to be available for the upcoming Europa League trip to Benfica after missing the last month with ankle ligament damage.
Venue Etihad Stadium, Saturday 3pm
Last season Man City 3 Newcastle 1
Referee N Swarbrick
This season’s matches 12 Y42, R0, 3.50 cards per game
Subs from Pantilimon, Wright, Garcia, Kolarov, K Touré, Razak, Sinclair, Lescott, Nasri, Guidetti, Dzeko
Injured Richards (knee, 13 April), Maicon (13 April) Rodwell (hamstring, 20 April)
Form guide LWWLDD
Disciplinary record Y48 R3
Leading scorer Dzeko 12
Subs from Harper, Perch, Williamson, Bigirimana, Shola Ameobi, Campbell, Obertan, Gosling
Injured Ben Arfa (hamstring, unknown), Tioté (hamstring, unk), Debuchy (hamstring, unk), Santon (thigh, unk), Haidara (bruised knee, one week), Coloccini (back, 20 April), R Taylor (knee, 20 April), Krul (ankle, 13 April), Vuckic (knee, Aug)
Form guide LWLWLW
Disciplinary record Y56 R2
Leading scorer Cissé 7
Manchester City are on a 12-match unbeaten run against Newcastle, winning the last six (W10, D2).
Newcastle have only earned two points from their last nine league visits in this fixture since Alan Shearer scored the only goal at Maine Road in September 2000.
The champions are 10 points and 20 goals worse off than at the same stage last season.
They have the best defensive record in the Premier League, conceding only 26 goals in 29 games and keeping an unrivalled 13 clean sheets.
City have only dropped four points from winning positions this season, the equal-best record in the division alongside
Arsenal and Manchester United.
According to Opta, James Milner has scored the most goals (29) in Premier League history without finding the net twice
or more in a single game.
Newcastle’s away record – one win and eight points from 15 matches – is the second worst in the division.
The Magpies have kept only one clean sheet in their last 12 Premier League games, conceding 26 goals in that period.
Alan Pardew’s side have conceded 35 second-half goals. Only Aston Villa (37) have fared worse.
They have lost eight of their last nine matches against current top-half opposition. The exception was a 3-2 home win against Chelsea on 2 February.
The last 18 league goals scored by Newcastle have come from overseas players – nine goals by Frenchmen, seven from
Senegalese, and one each by an Argentinian and Italian. They’ve also benefited from own goals by a Northern Irish and Dutch player since James Perch became their last English scorer, against Manchester United on Boxing Day.