Mario Balotelli displayed more evidence of the fiery temperament his Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini, is so desperate to remove from his game yesterday, when he clashed with his team-mate Jerome Boateng in training.
Balotelli, who is expected to start for City at home to Bolton today, reacted after a tackle from the German defender and the two had to be pulled apart, though they later made up. City insisted last night that the clash had lasted for a few seconds and was reflective of the competitive spirit in the ranks but the fact that the two have been pictured will be an irritation to Mancini, who has said that 20-year-old Balotelli's temperament is the only impediment to him becoming a world-class player.
More evidence of the struggle to maintain harmony at the club has come in a declaration from City's £22m signing Joleon Lescott that he wants to leave because he believes his lack of starts is jeopardising his England career. Lescott has said he is "not happy with the situation" after Vincent Kompany's presence has limited him to five league starts all season and sees a time when the England manager, Fabio Capello, will stop selecting him.
It is not thought Mancini will want to lose the player, but the club might be willing to consider a loan request and the player's availability will be of interest to other Premier League managers. Harry Redknapp is among those who inquired after him in the summer, although the Tottenham manager infuriated City by suggesting that they were offering the player on loan at that stage and even if City do sanction a loan it is unlikely that they will allow a Premier League rival for a top four place to take such a player from them
Lescott, 28, has looked overvalued at the £22m Everton managed to get out of City for his services, though the player's problems in establishing himself were compounded by the hamstring injury sustained at Fulham last season which also ruled him out the World Cup. Despite his limited chances, both at centre-half and at left-back at City, he did perform well for Capello in England's Euro 2012 qualifier in Switzerland in September.
Lescott said: "Of course, I'm not happy with the situation. I don't enjoy sitting on the bench, and sometimes not even making the bench, so I'm not happy with that. If some weeks I'm not involved and the next week I'm starting I have to give 100 per cent at all times.
"Fabio has kept his confidence in me when other players have gone down with injury and I'm grateful for that but there's going to come a time when, if I'm not playing [for City], I'm not going to be in the England squad as well. It means I need to keep playing well when I get the chance." Asked if he would seek a January loan, Lescott replied: "That's down to me and the club. The club might say, 'If there's a chance to play, go and play', and if not, I will have to stay here."
Shay Given is equally desperate to be away from City, having started only one League Cup and two Europa League games this season. "From a personal level, even to go on loan for a few months to be playing again because I do miss the feeling of playing and the buzz you get from that," the goalkeeper said. Asked whether he could face another five months on the bench, Given said: "I can't say I wouldn't and [I can't say] I would. I miss playing football, that's the thing I miss the most.
"It is frustrating training and knowing you're not going to play. I don't know what's round the corner and what's going to come in January, if anything. It's frustrating. This is the manager's decision and you have to respect that. Joe [Hart] has had a great season so it's tough for me at the minute. I think, hopefully, the club will be understanding [and] in January they might let me go on loan for a few months to get some games again."
Lescott's arrival was a source of huge acrimony with Everton but the defender insisted that he had not regretted the move. "I've never regretted my decision to come here," he said. "At the time Mark Hughes was in charge and I was playing every game and, even now, I still don't regret it. It's unfortunate that I'm not playing as much as I'd like, but you just have to get on with it sometimes. I'm a professional and level-headed person. I know situations come and go. At the moment I'm not playing but next week there might be an injury and I will be in the team for the rest of the season. I just have to be ready for that."Reuse content