• Gareth Barry's suspension creates vacancy on bench
• Internazionale make inquiry about Carlos Tevez
Owen Hargreaves has been placed on standby to face Manchester United for the first time since leaving the club in acrimonious circumstances last summer and joining Manchester City.
Gareth Barry's suspension from the FA Cup third-round tie between the two sides on Sunday, having been sent off in City's 3-0 defeat of Liverpool on Tuesday, means Hargreaves will be promoted to the squad as a replacement defensive midfielder.
That raises the possibility of him being involved in a role that will inflame the already high feelings surrounding the match. The former England international, still troubled by the long-standing knee issues that he believes were exacerbated by the treatment he received at United, has made only two starts and one substitute appearance since joining City as a free agent.
In the meantime he has been critical of the United medical staff, accusing them of putting his career on the line with a series of mistakes and "guinea pig" treatment that left him barely able to walk and with a knee that felt "like I was made out of glass".
Roberto Mancini, the City manager, said: "If he can continue to train well he can be on the bench for the weekend. He has been training for the last few weeks with no problem and it was always the plan that he was ready for January."
With Yaya Touré preparing for his final game before leaving for the Africa Cup of Nations, City need Hargreaves to show a greater ability to overcome his injury issues than has been evident in the first five months of his year-long contract.
Internazionale, meanwhile, have joined Milan and Juventus in expressing interest in acquiring City's Carlos Tevez.
"Yaya has won his award for being the best player in Africa and it was well deserved because he has been fantastic for us," James Milner said. "You can see the power he has going forward and he will be a massive loss for us."
The midfielder believes United will be intent on gaining some form of revenge after City not only beat them in last season's semi-final but won 6-1 at Old Trafford in the league. "After the last time we played them, we know they are going to fly out the traps. They will want to get one over us because that will have hurt them badly. Everyone over there, from the players to the management, will be up for it because for as much enjoyment as we got from it, they probably felt three times as much pain."
Greater Manchester police, staging one of their biggest operations for a football match in recent years, have confirmed that the pubs near the Etihad Stadium will be closed. The police also hope many city-centre pubs will close voluntarily to reduce the potential for trouble.