Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Mancini echoes warning over Balotelli's behaviour

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has urged striker Mario Balotelli to take heed of Italy coach Cesare Prandelli's warning.

Balotelli was left out of the squad for Italy's international friendly defeat by the United States this week with Prandelli publicly citing the player's indiscipline as a reason.

The 21-year-old has been sent off twice for City this season and missed eight games through suspension, although three of them were a European ban hanging over from last year.

Mancini has already asked his maverick forward to focus fully on his game for the closing months of the campaign and he hopes Prandelli's remarks reinforce the message.

Mancini said: "I think it is correct. We know that Mario is a top player but he should improve his behaviour.

"For the national team it is important. When you go to play in the European Championship and you only play three or five games, you should have good behaviour."

Balotelli impressed as he scored the opening goal and produced a disciplined performance in the Barclays Premier League leaders' 3-0 win over Blackburn last weekend.

It is such displays that leave Mancini in no doubt about Balotelli's ability.

Mancini said: "Mario is the best Italian striker, for sure - 100%."

Balotelli has scored 13 goals in all competitions this season while fellow strikers Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko have also struck 21 and 18 times respectively.

As well as that prolific trio, City could also have the striking option of Carlos Tevez as they look to claim their first title since 1968 in the coming months.

Tevez is now back in training following the end of his dispute with the club and had a run-out with the reserves earlier this week.

But the Argentinian, who has not played for City since September and spent more than three months away without permission, is still short of match fitness.

Mancini believes the 28-year-old is at least another fortnight away from a return.

Mancini, speaking at a press conference to preview tomorrow's game against Bolton, said: "I think he needs a minimum of another two weeks.

"In these two weeks it is important he plays two or three games with the reserves. He needs to play on a big pitch.

"For him it is like pre-season, after three months it is not easy to play.

"At this moment he can't play. Maybe in two weeks he could be ready."

Mancini accepted Tevez's apology for his conduct last week and says that matter is now closed.

When asked if the pair had met and put their problems aside, Mancini said: "Yes, we did everything."

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