Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has promised to moderate his temperamental behaviour and will return to the squad this weekend after being dropped, his manager, Roberto Mancini, said yesterday.
Balotelli has tested the patience of his manager in his first season at the club, picking up two red cards, including one against Dynamo Kiev which played a major part in the side's exit from the Europa League last month.
He was subsequently left out of the City squad as well as the Italy squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Slovenia and friendly with Ukraine.
"All the strikers will be available," Mancini said when asked whether the 20-year-old Balotelli would feature in tomorrow's Premier League match at home to Sunderland.
"I hope that after Dynamo Kiev his behaviour will be good. I think he wants to show he can change his behaviour in the last two months because he lost also the national team for two games. It's not a good thing for a young player like Mario."
City are without three of their main defenders for tomorrow's game, with Micah Richards sidelined with a hamstring problem, Jerome Boateng out with a knee injury and Kolo Touré provisionally suspended after a failed drugs test. Richards hopes to be back for the FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United on 16 April but Mancini has little choice but to rush Pablo Zabaleta back into action against Sunderland. The defender returned this week from Argentina where his father is seriously ill following a car crash.
"Boateng will have surgery in the next two or three days," Mancini said yesterday. "Maybe he will be fit for the last two games. But we are trying to get Richards fit for the semi-final. I don't know if it is possible but we hope." Such is the player's desire to make the derby semi he is considering installing an oxygen tent in his house to speed recovery.
With the inclusion of Zabaleta, Mancini can still field an experienced all-international back four. However, one member of it, Joleon Lescott, is unlikely to be looking forward to facing Asamoah Gyan, who bamboozled him before scoring Ghana's equaliser at Wembley on Tuesday.
"We have got three ecstatic Ghanaians here, one in particular – who is normally larger than life – burst into the building today," said Sunderland manager Steve Bruce yesterday. He added: "It's the first time when England have conceded a goal I have jumped up for the opposition, and how great it was when I saw four players [on the pitch at Wembley] involved from Sunderland [Ghana's Gyan, John Mensah and Sulley Muntari and, for England, Danny Welbeck]. Everywhere I looked there was a Sunderland player [on international duty], so it shows the improvement here."
One of those was Marcos Angeleri, who has been fined after suggesting to a South American radio station that he was not being picked by Bruce because he is not English.Reuse content