We will still win the league title, claims City's calm coach

Mancini confident in title race but will miss Kompany tonight
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By Ian Herbert

The world has moved on for both Roberto Mancini and Carlos Tevez since the tense – and evidently very brief – encounter at the Manchester City manager's Alderley Edge house in October, during which their conversation did not gravitate beyond Mancini demanding an apology and Tevez making it clear there would not be one.

Tevez is, to borrow the word City's South Americans use, tranquilo, as he rebuilds his reputation and a transfer market value which Mancini will need to be back at its peak if he is to sell him for a substantial enough sum this summer to move for Arsenal striker Robin van Persie.

Mancini, who will give Tevez no more than "25 to 30 minutes" from the bench against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium tonight as City try to close the four-point gap on leaders Manchester United, said: "We will win the title – or we will do everything we can to win the title. Ten games is nothing.

"We can't think about this, we need to always think positively. Until now we have had a fantastic Premier League campaign, and we need to continue playing like this."

Mancini has a defensive problem that is bordering on a crisis. Joleon Lescott has not recovered from a hip injury to face resurgent Chelsea, themselves hell-bent on drawing level on 52 points with fourth-placed Arsenal. And Vincent Kompany's chances of shaking off a calf injury in time to play are growing more distant by the hour.

Forget the circus that will surround a substitute's appearancefor Tevez . The lack of a reliable back-up centre half, with Stefan Savic's struggles against QPR, Wigan and Swansea posing the question of what damage Didier Drogba could do him, is far more significant.

Micah Richards may move into central defence and though there is a man for all seasons, Pablo Zabaleta, ready to operate at right-back, it is not as Mancini would have wanted at the moment the pips have squeaked.

The real motivating factor for the return of Tevez was clear enough. "We were top of the league until one week ago," Mancini said.

"I am confident because the players are very strong and they know we have a big chance to win this title. I also think we deserve this after being top for seven months. We don't want to lose this chance to win."