Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Mario's Got City Staying Power - Mancini ; Blues Boss Quashes Talk of a Milan Move and May Give His Striker a Shot at the Gunners, Writes Rob Dawson

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Mario's Got City Staying Power - Mancini ; Blues Boss Quashes Talk of a Milan Move and May Give His Striker a Shot at the Gunners, Writes Rob Dawson

Article excerpt

ROBERTO Mancini has again insisted Mario Balotelli's future lies at the Etihad Stadium - and could prove it by naming the Italian striker in his team to face Arsenal tomorrow.

There was fresh speculation this week linking Balotelli with a move to AC Milan, despite the club's owner Silvio Berlusconi branding the 22-year-old a 'rotten apple'.

But Mancini insisted the stories were 'not true' before revealing he was 'very, very happy' with Balotelli just a week after photographs emerged of the pair grappling at City's training ground.

The striker, who hasn't started a game since December after suffering from a virus, was in action for City's Elite Development Squad this week, scoring twice in a 4-0 win over Blackburn. His surprise appearance for the second string prompted talk that Balotelli, who was sent off at Arsenal last season, could be in line to start at the Emirates tomorrow with Sergio Aguero ruled out.

"He went with the under-21s because he needed a game after 40 days without a game," said Mancini.

"He played one game and he played well."

Mancini said Aguero, who suffered a hamstring injury against Stoke on New Year's Day, wouldn't be risked against Arsenal but could return for the game against Fulham on January 19. Aleksandar Kolarov is available after missing the last five games with a thigh injury.

"Sergio is not available," said Mancini. "We don't want to take a risk. We recover Kolarov.

"Sergio continues to do treatment this week. I hope he can play against Fulham in the next game. We can't take a risk with him now. If Arsenal was the last game of the season, okay, but like this it is impossible."

" Yaya Toure, who is away with Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Samir Nasri, who will serve the last game of a three- match ban, will also be absent.

City haven't won at Arsenal in the league for 38 years and haven't scored there since DaMarcus Beasley's consolation in a 3-1 defeat in 2007. Mancini is desperate to end the run of poor form but admits the task has been made more difficult with the loss of so many key players. …

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