Belfast Telegraph

Mancini poised for double swoop

Roberto Mancini hopes to have Mario Balotelli and James Milner hitched to his Manchester City bandwagon by next Thursday.

Although Martin O'Neill hinted on Friday night that Milner was on the verge of completing a big-money switch to Eastlands, the contract remains unsigned. Milner is due to link up with the England squad ahead of Wednesday's friendly with Hungary early next week, which further complicates matters.

Balotelli has Italian national commitments as well, although Mancini is hoping to tie up both deals very swiftly once those midweek fixtures are over. "We are close with both players but now they are going with their national teams," said Mancini after Saturday night's 2-0 friendly win over Valencia.

"We hope that we can have these players by next Thursday.

"For now we have two days off and we are not going to talk about the market. Next week we will see. These deals could happen but we need to wait."

It is Mancini's task to try and mould the huge number of stars into a winning team. Craig Bellamy did not even get off the bench, with Mancini confirming: "I cannot use 25 players in one game."

Bellamy will almost certainly resolve that situation by finding another club. For Shay Given and Joe Hart the situation is not quite so simple.

Both men were given 45 minutes to impress as Gareth Barry and Jo scored the goals that cemented victory. Only one will play in next Saturday's Premier League opener at Tottenham though, which must be very difficult for Hart given he is expected to start for England in midweek.

"It is not a big decision," insisted Mancini. "I am fortunate that I have two strong goalkeepers. This is important when you have a long season with three matches every week.

"I have an idea who I will play but I still have a week to decide."


From Belfast Telegraph