Roberto Mancini last night issued Carlos Tevez with a fitness ultimatum as the Manchester City captain steps up his bid to play a part in this season's FA Cup final.
Tevez, who is currently sidelined with a tear in his hamstring, faces a race to make the Wembley final with Stoke City on 14 May. The club's 21-goal leading scorer sustained the injury in the 3-0 defeat to Liverpool last week, and the striker is currently undergoing lengthy treatment sessions from the Argentina national physiotherapist in Milan. But Mancini has now set a target, warning Tevez that he must return during the club's Premier League run-in to stand a chance of featuring in his side's bid to end a 35-year-wait for silverware next month. City play Tottenham on 10 May, the game before the final, and Everton three days before that.
"I hope Carlos can recover in time as we have four weeks," said Mancini. "It is important for Carlos to play one game before the final, for sure. At this moment he has a bad injury and it is important for him to recover. I hope that we can call on all of the players for the final because, for me, it would be better to have all my players available for the final.
"Of course it is important for us that he is recovered in time for the FA Cup final and the last few games in the Premier League," Mancini added. "But I think he has confidence in his own physio. His injury is not easy to deal with and he always works with this physio. It is not unusual for him to be in Italy and for this to happen. Every person is different."
The burden of firing his side to success this season has weighed heavily on the shoulders of Tevez, even though his team-mates cope admirably without him in their Cup semi-final win over Manchester United last weekend.
His goals, and work-rate, will be sorely missed though as his side pursue the top-four finish that would secure Champions League football at Eastlands next season.
Mancini dismissed claims from the Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp that Stoke could try to manipulate a result to boost City's top-four challenge in the league game that follows after the final, ensuring that they can qualify for the Europa League in the process.
"I think that every team plays at 100 per cent," Mancini said. "When I was in Italy, I watched on TV a team that was relegated in the last game of the season and they played at 200 per cent like a team that maybe played in the Champions League or for the title. I have never had a team that played against a side that didn't play a game. I think that in England every manager and every player wants to play."
Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, also rejected Redknapp's concerns yesterday. "I can see where he [Redknapp] is coming from but whichever team we send out will do their best," said Pulis. "The fixture is there, we are happy with it, Manchester City are happy with it and it has nothing to do with anyone else."
Mancini's side sit two points ahead of Tottenham after the drawn north London derby on Wednesday night. The clubs are due to meet at Eastlands on 10 May and the result could prove decisive for the second successive year. Tottenham won 1-0 last year's encounter thanks to Peter Crouch's late headed winner to progress into the Champions League for the first time. City had to be content with the Europa League.
Mancini, though, remains relaxed about the situation. "It was a good game between Tottenham and Arsenal," he said. "But everything is in our hands. We do not depend on Tottenham or other teams. If we win our games we will go in the Champions League."Reuse content