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Manchester City manager Kevin Keegan revealed yesterday that he is looking to strengthen his midfield in view of Ali Bernabia's departure for Qatar and doubts over Eyal Berkvic's fitness. In an interview with the club's Web site, Keegan said that he could not afford to start the new season with only one creative midfielder.

"We are one down in the creative department now that Ali is gone and that is a concern for me,"' Keegan said. "I won't go into the season with just one creative player.I may only play with one but I will go and replace Ali if I can. I can only do it if I can find the right quality and that is what I am looking for.

"Eyal's fitness is in doubt at the moment, he is not fully fit yet. If something else happens to Eyal we don't have any cover for that creative role which you need at home more than away."

But the English media claimed yesterday that Berkovic, who has two years left on his contract, could be on his way out and some journalists said that Berkovic may retire if he fails to recover completely from a nagging injury picked up last season. Sky TV reported that Berkovic had requested to be placed on the transfer list. The midfielder suffered another knock in the club's pre-season friendly with Feyenoord last week.

If Berkovic does leave the club, Premier League newcomers Portsmouth, managed by Harry Redknap, Berkovic's former manager at West Ham, would be the most likely candidate for a move. Redknap is known to be an avid fan of the Israel international.