LONDON • Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure yesterday apologised on behalf of his agent for controversial comments which led to his exclusion from the Premier League team.
Manager Pep Guardiola has refused to pick Toure since Dimitri Seluk claimed the midfielder had been "humiliated" by his omission from the club's Champions League squad in early September.
Guardiola insisted Seluk apologise before he would consider the 33-year-old Ivorian for selection again.
In a statement published on Facebook, Toure said: "I wish to apologise - on behalf of myself and those who represent me - to the management team and all those working at the club for the misunderstandings from the past.
"Those statements do not represent my views on the club or the people who work there. I have nothing but respect for Manchester City and only wish the best for the football club."
At his press conference yesterday, Guardiola refused to say whether the apology would enable Toure to get back into the first team.
"I spoke with Yaya today, of course it's a private conversation. It's good news for Manchester City," the manager said.
"Yaya is in all our meetings and all our training sessions. I spoke with him and it's good, that's all. Now we focus on Middlesbrough."
City play Middlesbrough in the Premier League today and midfielder Kevin de Bruyne has urged his team-mates to quickly regain their focus after the euphoria of their victory over Barcelona.
City beat Barcelona 3-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday in what was their first win over the Spanish side in six attempts.
But Belgium international de Bruyne, who scored from a free kick against Barca, is wary of complacency creeping in ahead of the Premier League leaders' home match against Boro.
"The game against Middlesbrough is going to be another tough test," he said.
"If you lose at the weekend it doesn't matter what happened in the Champions League.
"We have to do the same as we did (against Barcelona) and try to win to go into the international break with a good series and try to maintain top spot in the league."
City captain Vincent Kompany will press his claims for a return to the starting line-up in defence as he edges closer to full match fitness.
Guardiola remains without right-back Bacary Sagna (hamstring) while midfielder Fabian Delph is still recovering from a muscle injury.
Meanwhile Middlesbrough forward Alvaro Negredo has been backed to rediscover his scoring touch as he prepares to face his old club for the first time since leaving City 18 months ago.
The 31-year-old has failed to find the net since the opening-day draw with Stoke in August, but Middlesbrough team-mate Antonio Barragan has faith in his ability.
"Alvaro is one of the best strikers out there," Barragan said. "He's in a good place right now, and he knows how to score goals. In my opinion he's still good enough to be playing for one of Europe's top sides."
Despite a 2-0 FA Cup win at the Etihad Stadium at the start of last year, Middlesbrough have not won away to City in the league for more than a decade.
Manager Aitor Karanka will be forced into at least one change with Uruguay midfielder Gaston Ramirez serving a suspension.
Marten de Roon, Cristhian Stuani, Grant Leadbitter and Viktor Fischer are on standby as Middlesbrough look to extend their unbeaten run to three consecutive games.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
MAN CITY V MIDDLESBROUGH
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