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Manchester City pick on me because I play for my country, says Kolo Toure

Kolo attack! City pick on me because I play for my country, claims disgruntled Toure

Former captain Kolo Toure appears to have paved the way for a January exit from Manchester City after launching a stinging attack on the Barclays Premier League leaders.

The Ivory Coast defender has hardly played for City this season after missing the first part of the campaign through suspension.

Now Toure would appear to have burnt his bridges at the Etihad Stadium by claiming he is being left out for reasons nothing to do with football.

City slicker: Kolo Toure has fallen out of favour at Manchester City

City slicker: Kolo Toure has fallen out of favour at Manchester City

In an interview in France, Toure claimed he is still paying for missing Premier League games while at the Africa Cup of Nations two years ago and rubbished 20-year-old City defender Stefan Savic.

The comments are remarkable after City stood by him during his six-month drugs ban.

Toure said: ‘I know my qualities and I have got nothing to prove here in England. They know me here. When you look at the performance of Savic against QPR, excuse me but I am relaxed.

Turning your back: Toure claims he is marginalised over his decision to represent his county

Turning your back: Toure claims he is marginalised over his decision to represent his county

‘To compete in the Africa Cup of Nations is catastrophic for a player these days. Coaches no longer want to sign players because of it. I feel it’s going to be more difficult for the Africans in football in the future.

‘I’m convinced that, if I’m not playing for City, then it’s not only for football reasons. If it was only about that then I would be playing every week. I’m a victim of that and it has to be said.

‘When I was in Angola for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2010 the club hired a plane so that I could get back quickly to play in a game against Manchester United. I could not get back in time and we lost. I believe the club have not got past that and I’m paying for it now.’

Toure was a key signing for City in 2009 and was made captain by former manager Mark Hughes.

However, the former Arsenal defender lost his place last season and was then suspended for six months by the FA after failing a drugs test at the start of this year.

Toure has failed to re-establish himself in Roberto Mancini’s Premier League team because of the form of Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott at the heart of the City defence. His appearances have been largely restricted to the Carling Cup and one Champions League game, a 2-0 defeat at Bayern Munich in September.

Toure believes African footballers in general are being discriminated against because of their obligations to the Africa Cup of Nations. Next year’s tournament takes place in January and will see Toure and brother Yaya leave City for three weeks after Christmas.

Kolo Toure added: ‘Clubs at this level always have big squads. It goes one way and then the other. I was captain here and so was Carlos Tevez. He is no longer here and who would have thought that would have happened African players are the victim of discrimination.’

Unimpressed: Toure hit out at the performance of team-mate Stefan Savic

Unimpressed: Toure hit out at the performance of team-mate Stefan Savic

Toure has interested newly wealthy French club Paris Saint-Germain and may join them in the January transfer window.

These latest comments will not endear him to Mancini after the club stood by the player during his ban that came after he took a diet pill given to him by his wife.

Another City defender, Aleksandar Kolarov, is expected to be out for four weeks with a groin problem.

Meanwhile, Manchester City have given AC Milan permission to speak to Carlos Tevez’s representative, according to the Italian club’s vice-president Adriano Galliani. The Serie A champions are interested in signing Tevez on loan in January.

Shay Given out for a month Aston Villa

Villa suffer blow as keeper Given faces spending festive period on the sidelines

Aston Villa goalkeeper Shay Given will be sidelined for a month after suffering a hamstring injury against Manchester United on Saturday.

Scans showed the 35-year-old Republic of Ireland international had suffered a small tear in his left hamstring during the 1-0 home defeat against the Red Devils.

American Brad Guzan, who replaced Given seven minutes before the break on Saturday, will continue to deputise between the posts in this weekend”s Barclays Premier League game at Bolton.

Sidelined: Shay Given will miss a month of the season through injury

Sidelined: Shay Given will miss a month of the season through injury

Villa manager Alex McLeish said: “It is disappointing to lose Shay in such circumstances but, unfortunately, these things happen in football.

“We have to meet these challenges and we will. We have total faith in Brad who, as I said after the game against Manchester United on Saturday, can be proud of the way he stepped in when Shay had to come off.

“We will need within the football club for everybody to stick together and that strength of unity will help massively.”