Daniel Farke said he was disappointed not to progress into the next round of the FA Cup but was pleased to give some crucial game-time to players who have been out for several months.
The City boss made eight changes to his starting line-up for today’s game against Portsmouth, resting several key players who have been involved in the busy run of league games.
However, despite going down to 10-men 15 minutes in and dominating possession throughout the game, City went 1-0 down in stoppage time to send them out of the competition.
Farke said: “We are disappointed because the cup had high importance for us and we were greedy to go into the next round. The lads invested everything and tried their best, and for several lads it was the first game for a long time.
“For Grant Hanley it was his first appearance in our First Team since the end of August, the same for Kenny McLean and Ben Marshall since August and Felix Passlack was last involved in the Carabao Cup against Bournemouth in October. So, we had several lads on the pitch who were not involved in the starting line-up for the last four or five months and they were there with big desire and commitment because we faced a really good opponent who are dominating League One at the moment.
“I got the feeling we were closer to winning the game than Portsmouth were, but in the last situation sadly we conceded the counter and we have to accept the loss.”
Grant Hanley was shown a red card for a foul on Ronan Curtis, but Farke said he was pleased with how his team reacted to the set-back.
“You couldn’t see such a big difference because we didn’t give too many chances away,” he said. “Of course, it’s a bit more tricky because you are one lad down against a really good side, and when you are pressing you have to stand 10-15 metres deeper and you have one guy less to create chances.
“But from minute to minute we got more and more control back over the game and especially in the second half we had many good chances to win the game. In the last minutes we tried to invest and risk everything, we played man-against-man in the defence and brought all of our offensive players in because we wanted to win this game.
“We had to risk today to give some game time to prepare the lads for the next months and also give some players a rest. I got the feeling that Teemu Pukki, Max Aarons, Onel Hernandez, Mario Vrancic and Timm Klose needed a rest today and I didn’t want to risk any of our injury problems.
“We are disappointed but there are more important games for us in the next four months and now we will just concentrate on West Brom."