By Greg Stobart
Jack Rodwell could go straight into the Manchester City team for their Premier League opener on Sunday as Gareth Barry is set to miss the start of the season.
Barry was ruled out of Euro 2012 after tearing a muscle in his lower abdomen and he is still struggling following the consequent operation.
The 31-year-old midfielder is certain to miss the start of City’s title defence against Southampton at the Etihad Stadium this weekend and is likely to be out of action for a further fortnight.
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In any case Barry, who also has a slight back issue, has been told to expect a reduced role this term as manager Roberto Mancini rotates his squad in order to challenge on all fronts.
The arrival of Rodwell from Everton in a deal reportedly worth £17 million including add-ons will also provide Mancini with options in midfield and defence.
The 21-year-old has signed a five-year contract worth £60,000-a-week after City moved quickly to land the promising England international in the last week.
Mancini is a long-term admirer of Rodwell but was quoted £25m by Everton boss David Moyes when he twice made personal phonecalls to enquire about the player last summer.
Moyes told Mancini he would keep him in touch with any developments and during talks between the clubs this week it became clear that Everton were willing to sell the youngster.
Mancini spoke on Sunday of Rodwell’s potential to become a top central midfielder ‘in two years’ but the Italian is also believed to see the Southport-born man as a very capable central defender.
Rodwell’s departure means Everton are likely to stick to their asking price of £15m for Manchester United target Leighton Baines.
The Toffees were always expected to offload one of their more valuable assets this summer to ease their finances, but the sale of Rodwell relieves any pressure to sell Baines or midfielder Marouane Fellaini.
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