Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Balotelli Now Ready to Come in from the Cold ; City Striker Back in Training and Could Replace Injured Aguero for Cup Clash

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Balotelli Now Ready to Come in from the Cold ; City Striker Back in Training and Could Replace Injured Aguero for Cup Clash

Article excerpt

MARIO Balotelli might have timed his comeback to perfection.

Missing since the December defeat to United through a combination of Roberto Mancini's selection policy and then a virus, the 22-year- old striker is back on the training pitch.

And he's arrived back at full health just in time to replace injury-stricken Sergio Aguero in the City squad.

Aguero (pictured right) is set to miss Saturday's FA Cup third round tie with Watford after suffering a hamstring injury against Stoke on New Year's Day.

He's also a doubt for the trip to Arsenal a week later.

City have already been linked with big-name strikers David Villa and Radamel Falcao just three days into this month's transfer window.

But they could have a readymade replacement waiting in the wings.

David Platt revealed he and Mancini would see how the Italian striker trained today and tomorrow before deciding whether to throw him back in.

"He has had two or three days training and will have another few days before the game at the weekend," said Platt. "There is every chance he will be available for selection."

Balotelli has been linked with a move to AC Milan - who are set to sell either Robinho or Alexandre Pato - despite Mancini's insistence that no-one will be allowed to leave in the January window.

And Platt insists that stance extends to Joleon Lescott as well, after he was linked with a move back to former club Everton.

Lescott, who will have one eye on the England squad for the friendly against Brazil at Wembley on February 6, made his first start in a month against Stoke on New Year's Day after losing his place to 19-year-old Matija Nastasic.

With Kolo Toure set to miss up to five Premier League games at the Africa Cup of Nations, Lescott is in line to play a more central role in the coming weeks.

And Platt hit back at the suggestion Lescott might be allowed to leave the Etihad Stadium this month while insisting his selection against Stoke was nothing more than squad rotation during the busy Christmas fixture period. …

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