London: Mario Balotelli cannot be trusted in Manchester City’s crucial title run in, manager Roberto Mancini has admitted.
The Italian boss, who lost top scorer Sergio Aguero to an Achilles injury this week, is facing a striker crisis with Edin Dzeko only hitting the net twice in his last 17 games while Carlos Tevez is returning to match-fitness after a three-month absence in Argentina.
And the burden could be left upon Balotelli, although Mancini is unsure whether the fiery 21-year-old can be trusted in such an important time of the title-race.
"I don’t trust Mario, but he is like this. I don’t think anyone can trust Mario," he told reporters.
"He could easily score two goals tomorrow or in the next game at Arsenal. But we can’t trust him."
The 47-year-old, however, has no doubts over the former Inter man`s ability, but questioned his recent form after he took the striker off at half-time in City’s home win against Chelsea.
"He is a top player, he can do everything in a game. He can score three goals, but he can also take a red card.
"It’s his job, he needs to work, he needs to rest, but he is young. I just hope he can score five or six important goals in the last eight games.
"I was disappointed with his performance against Chelsea, but not against Stoke," he said.
The pair were pictured earlier in the week having a disagreement, but the former Sampdoria man played down the argument.
He said: “I spoke with him during training because I explained some situation on the pitch, this is all.”
But there were further problems for Mancini this week when Balotelli returned back to Milan during his two days off.
The Sicily-born star unexpectedly burst into an Inter press conference to greet new boss Andrea Stramaccioni, who has replaced Claudio Ranieri, and promptly left after a matter of seconds.
Mancini, however, hopes that the £20 million man can spend his time more wisely and act maturely.
"I can’t take him and put him in his house for two days! Probably the moment will arrive when he understands what he should do when he has two days off.
"I hope for him he grows out of it because he needs to improve in this."