Roberto Mancini may have to do without Carlos Tevez this weekend, but the Manchester City manager believes the Argentine will be at Eastlands for the long term, despite the pair's very public disagreement last Saturday after Tevez was substituted late on against Bolton.
"I think we can talk about this situation every week," said Mancini yesterday. "Now we must have a focus on the games. We have a difficult month and big games ahead. We can't speak about him [Tevez] every week. We can cope without him. He has spoken this week, but I've explained about 1,000 times now. I think he will stay here for a long time as he's never spoken to me about anything else with this situation."
Tevez's touchline dissent came not long after collecting his fifth yellow card of the season. That means the striker will be missing against bottom-placed West Ham tomorrow; and that doesn't bode well for City as the club's over-reliance on Tevez this season has almost become crippling.
The statistics simply don't make easy viewing, with Mancini's side winning just once since January when Tevez has failed to find his way on to the scoresheet. According to Mancini that is about to change given the rich talent in the expensive squad that has been assembled at Eastlands.
"I think that this is a time when we can try to win without Carlos," said Mancini. "He is an important player for us. But the players that will play will have a good game. I'm sure of that. If we continue to play like we did against Bolton and against Stoke in the second half we can win without him.
"But we know we must try to score with the other players. There's enough quality there with Mario [Balotelli], Jo, and [Adam] Johnson. We can do this. Carlos is an important player inside the box as he's very dangerous. He is a fantastic player. He is one of the most important players in Europe, in the world maybe. For us he is very important. But if we play like we did against Bolton, we can still win without him."
In a week when Tevez has quashed speculation that he wants to quit the club, the dependency on the former Manchester United striker this season has been eased somewhat in recent weeks thanks to the introduction of Balotelli.
But Tevez remains the vital cog in Mancini's wheel. With the Italian's faith in the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Jo remaining somewhat limited, Tevez can perhaps do with a week off before the hectic Christmas backlog of games fast approaching.
Yet given the number of talented players in Mancini's squad, the defensive, safety-first approach may have to be put on the back burner if Manchester City are to go joint top of the Premier League tomorrow afternoon.
More significantly this is a chance for them to finally step out of Tevez's shadow and do the unthinkable, prove they can score without their captain in their ranks.