Last weekend’s win at Stoke was the first since Yaya Toure left for the Africa Cup of Nations, and in his absence City have slipped seven points behind leaders Chelsea.
Toure will be back in the side against Newcastle on Saturday Night Football??as the champions set out to win at home for the first time in four games, and Pellegrini said: “It’s important to have Yaya back, he’s an important player for us.
“We are sure Yaya will be the same player as he was before he left. We didn’t win a lot of games without him but there were other problems too. We had players coming back from injuries – when you put both together, maybe that explains it.”
Those injured players – notably Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero – have now had a run of games, and the manager made it clear on the eve of the Newcastle game that he expects no more slip-ups.
“We cannot drop more points,” he said. “But the important thing also is, if we win we will have the same amount of points at the same moment as last season.
“We can’t think about where Chelsea is – it’s important not to drop points and the only way to do it is to play well.
“I always say Newcastle are a very good team with very good players – it’s not easy to play against them. I hope we will recover our normal performance at home – we will have to play well with lots of intensity.”
James Milner, a goalscorer in City’s last two games, will be missing on Saturday with a knee injury, but ??25m signing Wilfried Bony is available to make his debut after playing alongside Toure in Ivory Coast’s cup win.
“Bony is an important player for us,” the manager said. “We’ll see if he starts or if he’s on the bench.
“He’s a player who has played in England, he knows he Premier League, he knows our team – I think it will be easy for him to settle in. He can play with Aguero, with Edin Dzeko, with Stevan Jovetic, with David Silva – all of the players in our squad.”