Real Madrid get helping hand from Manchester City ahead of United clash

• Spanish club to train at Etihad Stadium rather than Old Trafford
• Question marks over poor state of United's pitch

Real Madrid will have Manchester City's help to prepare for the crucial Champions League last-16 match against their crosstown rivals, Manchester United, on Tuesday evening, with José Mourinho's side training at the Etihad Stadium on Monday to "save" the Old Trafford pitch.

The tie is poised at 1-1 following the opening leg at the Bernabéu last month. Madrid were due to train at their Valdebebas facility in Spain on Monday morning before flying to Manchester but an air strike means Mourinho's squad will now make the trip on Sunday.

Juan Camilo Andrade, a Madrid spokesperson, said: "There will be most certainly an air strike on Monday with Iberia so we have to change our plans. We have to go on Sunday just to avoid any possible problems."

If teams in the Champions League do not train at their own club ahead of matches, the convention is for them to use the opposition's surface the day before the match. But Andrade said: "We just want to keep the pitch safe. That's it, that's the idea. We don't want to mess it around."

This season United had well documented problems with the Old Trafford surface. Sir Alex Ferguson stated it had "collapsed" during the Christmas period, though he is now pleased with its recovery.

However, United did not ask Madrid to find an alternative surface to train on to safeguard it. "We just want to make sure. We don't want any problems with that because we're used to training on our [training] field. So we thought Manchester City – they're happy enough to lend us their pitch. We want to train there just in case," said Andrade, who added that Madrid had not been aware of the problems with the Old Trafford pitch.

"I think we just realised it [was best] to keep it safe and let's train at the Etihad Stadium. [City] do not play there Monday so they don't have any problems with that," he said.

Roberto Mancini's side travel to Aston Villa that evening knowing they will be 15 points behind United in their title defence if Ferguson's team defeat Norwich City at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Vincent Kompany is a major doubt to face Villa because of the recurring calf injury that has ruled the City captain out for more than a month. This is the third problem with the muscle Kompany has suffered over the past year after the recurrence in the first half of City's 1-0 win at Stoke City in an FA Cup fourth-round tie on 26 January, and David Platt, the assistant manager, admitted there is concern at the club regarding the extent of the injury.

Mancini said on Friday: "Vinnie is getting better. We hope we can recover him for the next game. We try for Aston Villa for Monday but it is difficult because he did not train with the team, he trained with the physio."

The Italian believes the FA Cup quarter-final with Barnsley on Sunday week is a more realistic target for Kompany's return. "We hope for the FA Cup," Mancini said. "The calf is a difficult injury because you think you are OK and then you have a problem – the calf is a strange injury."

Gareth Barry, who has not played because of a foot problem since the 3-1 loss at Southampton on 9 February, will return. "He will be OK for Monday," the manager said. "He trained with the team the last two days."

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