Roberto Mancini optimistic of swift Carlos Tevez return

Roberto Mancini is confident Carlos Tevez still has a major role to play in Manchester City's battle for a place in next season's Champions League.

Tevez limped out of last night's 3-0 hammering at Liverpool with a hamstring injury sustained as Andy Carroll was driving the Merseysiders in front at Anfield.

Although Mancini is not prepared to write his captain out of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United at Wembley, he accepts even round-the-clock treatment from City's medical staff could prove fruitless.

However, the City manager does not feel the damage is so bad it will rule Tevez out of the final six games of their Premier League programme and he expects the South American to be fully fit within a fortnight.

"It will be very difficult for Saturday but he should be okay to return in two weeks," said Mancini.

City fans will cross their fingers that Mancini's assessment proves to be accurate.

Although Tevez has scored just twice in his last 12 games, he is by some distance City's top scorer this season.

Edin Dzeko is still to bag a Premier League goal despite making nine appearances since his £27million arrival from Wolfsburg, whilst the enigmatic Mario Balotelli - who has not scored in seven games - was so bad against Liverpool that Mancini took him off, even though he had only been introduced as Tevez's replacement.

With Yaya Toure failing to make any impact until his late piledriver forced Pepe Reina into his only meaningful save and David Silva's form dipping sharply over the past few weeks of an otherwise outstanding debut season at Eastlands, City fans optimism has been punctured ahead of that eagerly-awaited FA Cup semi-final.

Yet Mancini, who accepted all the blame for last night's awful display without saying exactly what went wrong, insists it will be all right on the night.

"If we won this game we probably would have had a 100% chance to go to the Champions League," said Mancini.

"Now we should fight until the end because Tottenham are very close.

"Now some people might be worried because we have an important game.

"But we have more chances and I think we will get into the Champions League and we will go into the final."

The bold words must be backed up with substance though.

It could be argued that of the twin target now facing City, Saturday represents the least important staging post given a top-four place was laid down as the minimum requirement demanded by owner Sheikh Mansour for his vast outlay on the club.

However, no-one at Eastlands is unaware of the significance of this latest derby clash.

There may be no trophy at stake on Saturday but in terms of prestige and morale, victory, which would bring with it a first major cup final since 1981 - and immediate installation as favourites - is priceless.

Little wonder midfielder Gareth Barry has no fears about his team-mates rediscovering their focus ahead of the weekend blockbuster.

"Last night was our worst performance of the season," he told

"It is tough to put your finger on anything.

"I am not sure we can blame Saturday too much. Our focus has always been on the league position.

"At times like this, you just have to bounce back and I believe it will be easy for us to pick ourselves up.

"It is a massive game for the club. A semi-final at Wembley.

"It is the sort of game that will help us rather than hinder.

"If you can't get yourself up for that you shouldn't be in the game."

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