Mancini extends Man City lifeline to Balotelli

London: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has said madcap striker Mario Balotelli can play again under him despite taking the club to the court, but needs to prove himself by showing his true quality. The Italian bad-boy faces a Premier League panel in London on Wednesday to challenge the 340,000 pound fine slapped on him by City for misconduct.

Yet while it seems certain to push Balotelli out of the Etihad exit, boss Mancini, who rubber-stamped the action against his player and dropped him for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle, has hinted that the front man may be needed over Christmas. “We need to have all the players this month as we have a lot of games in two weeks. Mario needs to train. I don’t think he was happy about it on Saturday but, when he starts to show his quality, he will play again,” the Sun quoted Mancini, as saying. City fined Balotelli because he missed 11 of their 54 matches 20 per cent due to suspension after picking up three red cards last season.

AC Milan is among the clubs closely monitoring his situation with the January transfer window looming. The champions start a run of four games in 10 days when they host basement-boys Reading on Saturday, quickly followed by trips to Sunderland and Norwich. Balotelli could find it hard to force his way back in after the impressive display at St James’ Park, where Sergio Aguero scored and Carlos Tevez caught the eye. But Mancini said: “We won the title last year because all the strikers scored a lot of goals. I wanted it to be the same this year. So if a player like Mario is not performing then he will stay at home.”