Barry looks for solace from Cups

MANCHESTER, England, March 1, 2011 (AFP) - Gareth Barry concedes Manchester City are now focusing on cup success after falling away in the Premier League title race.

City host Aston Villa in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday, with the chance to earn a place in the quarter finals against either Everton or Reading.

Manchester City's manager Roberto Mancini (L) along with his assistant Brian Kidd react during the English Premier League match between Manchester City and Fulham at The City of Manchester stadium on February 27, 2011. AFP

Roberto Mancini's side have won just once in five Premier League matches - including a defeat to Manchester United - which has left them 10 points off the leaders, with Sir Alex Ferguson's side also having played a game less.

City are also through to the last 16 of the Europa League, where they will face Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kiev.

Having spent significantly over the past two years, City were expected to challenge for the title and have not won a major trophy since 1976.

England midfielder Barry admits that City are now targeting a top-four finish, which would take them into the Champions League for the first time, and success in the FA Cup and the Europa League.

"Of course the cups are becoming more important for us. It's a big game for us and we've got the incentive of another home tie in the quarter finals.

"If we get through those two you never know ,and you're getting close to Wembley. Cup competitions have been important to us all season.

"Although fourth spot is going to be our main target, the cup competitions are going to be massive because it's been so long since we lifted a trophy so the lads are concentrating on maybe doing that.

"There are still a lot of games left and we've got to be positive. There's no point in getting down about it, the lads stick together in the dressing room, work hard on the training pitch and we'll try to get some positive results."

Mancini is hoping that Belgium international defender Vincent Kompany will return from a thigh problem against Gerard Houllier's side.

Spanish forward David Silva also missed Sunday's 1-1 draw with Fulham due to an ankle injury but could be back on Wednesday.

Micah Richards is still out with a calf strain and Nigel De Jong is no closer to returning from an ankle injury.

Villa were humiliated in a 4-0 Premier League defeat at Eastlands at the end of December but responded by beating City 1-0 in January.

Ahead of the trip to Manchester, Houllier, whose Villa side beat Blackburn 4-1 at the weekend, believes that Stewart Downing is back to his best after struggling to get over a foot injury that kept him out for eight months last season.

Much of the focus at Villa has been on Ashley Young and Darren Bent but Houllier believes that the performances of Downing should earn him a recall to the England squad.

"I think the injury was maybe in the back of Stewart's mind at the beginning of the season," said Houllier.

"But now he looks like he's doing well and enjoying it. Stewart is outstanding. He has improved a lot.

"Stewart is more confident, he can pass, he can score, his goal against Blackburn was fantastic.

"He can make runs sometimes to cover, sometimes to fill in, and his technique is good, his awareness is good.

"Stewart can play on either side, right or left. He's one of the rare players who can use his right or left foot,

"I hope he is in the next England squad, for us and for Stewart's sake, because I like it when our players go and play for their country."

James Collins could return after missing out on Saturday with a calf problem but fellow defender Carlos Cuellar is still out with a hamstring injury.

Nathan Baker will be handed a late fitness test after being forced off with concussion at the weekend, while midfielder Jean Makoun is suspended.

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