MANCHESTER: Manchester City midfielder Fernandinho insists the FA Cup remains a priority for his side despite their bid to advance in the Champions League.
Last week’s thrilling 5-3 victory over French side Monaco has left Pep Guardiola’s side in a strong position to advance to the quarter-finals in a competition in which the coach has excelled throughout his career.
But before the return leg, City must face second tier side Huddersfield Town in an FA Cup fifth round replay, with a place in the last eight of that competition at stake.
And Fernandinho insists City are keen to add to their five successes in the FA Cup, the last one coming under Roberto Mancini’s leadership six years ago.
“If we win we are in the quarter-finals and after that we can be at Wembley,” Fernandinho told the club’s website.
“It’s extremely important because the FA Cup it’s a beautiful competition and we want to go as far as possible.
“The support of our fans in the FA Cup will be very important. For us the aim is to be in the final.”
City flew to Abu Dhabi for a spell of warm weather training immediately after the Monaco victory, returning to Manchester on Monday.
– ‘Looking so confident’ –
Guardiola is likely to rest key players, ahead of Sunday’s Premier League visit to bottom side Sunderland, for the replay although, given the depth in his squad, City are certain to field a strong line-up.
Fernandinho, 31, has proved particularly important for Guardiola this season as he has rotated his squad with the Brazilian used in a number of positions, including both full-backs spots as well as a variety of midfield roles.
“No matter what position I play, the aim is always to have possession of the ball, create supremacy, to allow the team to feel that we have more players in the midfield — to help create more passes and chances,” he said.
“I don’t know what position I will be playing from now on. I will try to play as often as possible as a midfielder, but for me the most important is the team’s victory and try to achieve a good position on the Premier League table.”
Huddersfield remain in contention for automatic promotion from the Championship, despite a weekend draw at Barnsley.
Manager David Wagner has also been rotating his squad and is likely to do so again for the visit to Premier League opponents.
“We are looking so confident and so strong at the minute that I am not concerned about the fact that we have another match,” said the German, who was assistant to his close friend Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.
“It’s another opportunity to test ourselves against a very good opponent.
“The players who came in for the first match gained a lot of confidence from the performance. They are very hungry to play again and show that they deserve a chance.
“We are not concerned about the number of matches. We played Tuesday when Barnsley were at home lying on the sofa, yet we were the team pushing right to the end to try and win it.
“It was good to see how we were fitness wise. It was a strong performance from the whole group and there is a really positive feeling in the dressing room.” -AFP