TONY PULIS handed Matthew Upson and Ryan Shotton the vacant defensive places for the Barclays Premier League match against Southampton.
England defender Upson and Academy product Shotton were called up with captain Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron serving one match suspensions.
As City looked to end 2012 on a high note, Pulis was also able to include another England international, Michael Owen, among his substitutes.
Owen had recovered from the hamstring injury which has troubled him on and off for the past two months since his last appearance against Sunderland.
While City were forced into making the two changes at the back, Michael Kightly and Kenwyne Jones retained their places in the line-up to face the Saints.
As well as the return of Owen, there was also a return to the bench for midfielder Wilson Palacios, but the Potters were short of defensive cover.
Southampton were without their own captain Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne, but manager Nigel Adkins welcomed back Guly Do Prado.
City: Begovic; Shotton, Huth, Upson, Wilkinson; Kightly, Nzonzi, Whelan, Etherington; Jones, Walters. Subs: Sorensen, Palacios, Owen, Adam, Whitehead, Crouch, Jerome.
Southampton: K Davis; Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fonte, Shaw; Puncheon, Schneiderlin, Cork, Rodriguez; Lambert, Do Prado. Subs: Boruc, S Davis, Ramirez, Fox, Richardson, Mayuka, De Ridder, .
Referee: M. Clattenburg