Belfast Telegraph

Mancini backs Balotelli

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has defended Mario Balotelli, who will sit out the derby clash with Manchester United on Wednesday.

The £24 million striker, who arrived from Inter Milan in the summer, was sent off in the victory over West Brom on Sunday after scoring a brace. City are awaiting the outcome of a Football Association appeal hearing against an automatic three-match ban for the 20-year-old Italian's dismissal against the Baggies.

Asked if he was concerned about Balotelli's attitude, Mancini said: "Mario is a young guy, a top player, sometimes he can make a mistake. That is normal. In the last game the punishment was too severe."

He added: "I hope he can improve in all ways. When you are a young guy you must improve day by day. That is important."

Mancini could be short of attacking options as Emmanuel Adebayor is doubtful for the derby.

Adebayor has a calf injury and his fitness will be monitored in the hours leading up the to the game. Aleksandar Kolarov is pushing for a place in the starting line-up following his recovery from an ankle injury.

Meanwhile, midfielder Nigel de Jong has revealed some of City's senior players have spoken to Balotelli and told him to keep his temper under control.

Balotelli was dismissed for an apparent stamp on Albion's Youssuf Mulumbu and struggled to keep his emotions in check during the match.

De Jong told the Manchester Evening News: "When you are on a yellow card you have to watch yourself especially in an away game. He needs to learn from it and stay focused on his football and not talk to much.

"If it is me, Carlos (Tevez) or Vinny (Vincent Kompany) we always try to tell him he has to stop talking and concentrate on his game. But it is not easy for him. He is 20 and has come into the Premier League from Italy, which is a different game for him."

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