Mancini: I didn't fall out with Bellamy

Manager says injury issue is now 'resolved' and that striker may face Liverpool
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The Independent Football

Roberto Mancini has denied any rift with Craig Bellamy, his combustible striker, following reports the pair had had a furious exchange earlier this week.

The Manchester City manager said yesterday that the situation had been "resolved" and, rather than being banished for the remainder of the season, Bellamy may even be in contention to play against Liverpool tomorrow.

"The discussion with Craig was about the injury, the problem with his knee," said Mancini. "He worked one way, I preferred another way. It is the sort of problem a manager can have with a player. I prefer him to work with the fitness coach, he prefers to work another way. It is resolved. I am happy with the way it is resolved. It is important the players are happy. We have agreed, no problem"

Bellamy's involvement against Liverpool will depend on fitness and he has trained for the last three days. The availability of Bellamy, who has missed the last three games, would be a boon to Mancini as he will be without Carlos Tevez, who remains in Argentina after his wife gave birth prematurely. The Argentinian striker is expected to return to Manchester in time for the FA Cup replay with Stoke City on Wednesday.

"I think that the baby's OK now," said Mancini. "I hope Carlos comes back very quickly because we need him. This is a difficult situation. There have been some problems with the baby because it was born one month early. Now it is important that everything is OK, Carlos comes back here to work, to play.

"I am frustrated because we don't have Carlos here. The other things are normal on a team. It can happen, if not every day, every week, every 10 days, every month. Sometimes it is in the newspapers, sometimes not. But it's not a serious problem. Carlos is a serious problem because he can't play Sunday and didn't play against Stoke two times."

Mancini also criticised Patrick Vieira, his first signing for City in January. The former Internazionale midfielder was yesterday banned for three games by the FA for violent conduct after kicking out against Stoke's Glenn Whelan. "For me, Patrick made a big mistake," said Mancini. "Today, it is impossible that you can do these things against another player. It is not right, for him and for us."

Martin Petrov will also be missing from City's midfield. The Bulgarian faces a month out with a knee injury.