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Mancini hails Zabaleta

A player such as Pablo Zabaleta is most certainly a benefit to any squad, not only for his versatility in performing well in a number of different positions but also for his attitude as a 'team man'.

You sense that for the Argentinian - who often flies under the radar, the team ethos is far more important than any personal gain or accolades. So much so that it could harm his chances of making the Argentina squad for this years World Cup.

So in that respect it is nice to see a little credit go his way from Roberto Mancini:

"It's great for a manager to have a player like Pablo around. He can play in almost every position - maybe not striker, but I'm sure he would do it if I asked him!

"He has done very well in every position I have asked him to play, but for me he is at his best in midfield. I prefer to play him there, but he has been good at left back, right back or anywhere across the midfield.

"It's also important that if I am making changes during a game, I have players like Pablo can change position when I ask them."

Zabaleta is of course one option to fill the left back position freed up through the injury to Wayne Bridge (although I do think Javi Garrido will get the nod), but Mancini's comments regarding his best position are interesting.

Whereas Mark Hughes was reluctant to play Zabaleta in midfield unless it was an absolute last resort, Mancini has often fielded him in midfield ahead of some more obvious candidates (yes, you Stephen Ireland).

Given Mancini's preference for a solid unit in the midfield, it is easy to see why he likes Zabaleta there. Bringing a no-nonsense style of play, he is able to break the play up and keeps things simple in terms of distribution.

Ideal for Mancini's vision of what a midfield should look like.