The Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini, has reiterated his unhappiness that forward Sergio Aguero made the trip to Argentina despite not being able to feature in his country's recent World Cup qualifiers and hinted that the player might have been in a better position had he stayed in England.
Mancini revealed Aguero could make the bench for the Premier League champions' visit to Stoke today, but admitted the trip was an inconvenience to his recovery from the knee injury suffered in City's opening win over Southampton.
Aguero flew back to his homeland for just five days before returning to training at City's Carrington training ground on Wednesday, but while Mancini insisted he had to go because he was requested to, he does believe it would have been better to stay in Manchester.
"No [he shouldn't have stayed in Manchester], because the Argentina manager wanted him there. He went there for five days. He worked with the physio and then came back. The Argentina manager wants him there," explained the Italian.
"This is a stupid rule because if we had a player who is injured for two weeks it is better he stays here to recover very well.
"Sergio is not 100 per cent but his knee is OK, he doesn't have pain. Maybe he could be on the bench."
Mancini has backed the Argentine to score more than his 23 league goals last season should he stay relatively injury free for the remainder of the campaign. "It is difficult to score more than 20 goals in the first season in the Premier League. This year if he is lucky with injuries I think he can score more goals."
The arrival of full-back Maicon from Internazionale has led to Micah Richards, who is out with an ankle injury, fearing for his City future, with Pablo Zabaleta also vying for the right-back slot.
However, Mancini insists that England international Richards does not have to worry. Mancini said: "I think we probably play more games than last year and we need to have one or two players more. It changes nothing because I trust Micah 100 per cent."
The Blues face Stoke today at the Britannia Stadium, with the former England striker Michael Owen set to make his debut for the home side. City have struggled on their last three league visits with 1-1 draws in each game. Mancini said: "They are very strong, tall, but with this kind of football they are always in the Premier League and for them that is important. It is a difficult place. There are some teams that play in a different way but every team also, United, Arsenal, Chelsea, they have a problem because it is difficult to play there."
Mario Balotelli should keep his place up front after recovering from laser-eye surgery last week.
Mancini added: "Now we solve this problem and maybe he [Balotelli] can see the goal better. This is very important."
Days since Owen's injury-time winner for United v City in 2009.