Carlos Tevez features in Manchester City reserves defeat to Preston

 

Carlos Tevez played his first 45 minutes of football since returning to Manchester City this afternoon.

The Argentinian was given a run-out in the first half as the City elite development squad were beaten by Preston reserves at Carrington.

The fixture was originally scheduled for tomorrow at Chorley but was brought forward and played behind closed doors at City's training ground.

The switch curtailed potential media presence and gave City the opportunity to ease Tevez back into action following the closure of his dispute with the club.

Tevez, who last played for the first team more than five months ago, is hoping to win back his place in Roberto Mancini's side.

The 28-year-old fell out with Mancini during the infamous Champions League loss at Bayern Munich in September, when he was accused of refusing to warm up.

He spent more than three months in Argentina without the club's permission before reporting back to Carrington a fortnight ago after failing to secure a transfer in January.

He apologised for his conduct and Mancini has said he will consider his former captain for selection again once match-fit.

Tevez has been given his own fitness programme but is also being reintegrated into senior training sessions.

Mancini said last week he believed Tevez was two or three weeks away from fitness. That would suggest this Saturday's home clash against Bolton is too soon for a comeback but the following weekend's trip to Swansea could be a possibility.

Tevez, who has scored 52 goals in 91 appearances for City, is not registered to play in the Europa League but offers Mancini a fourth striking option in the Barclays Premier League title race.

City, chasing their first league success since 1968, lead the table by two points with 12 games remaining.

Tevez, however, will face a tough battle to get back into the side.

City's three leading strikers this term, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli, have scored 52 goals between them in all competitions.

Tevez was withdrawn at half-time in this afternoon's game and his team-mates went on to lose 3-1 without him.

PA

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