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Man City V Bolton at Etihad Stadium : Match Preview

03 Mar 2012 08:58:39

Man City V Bolton at Etihad Stadium : Match Preview

Mancini seeks strong finish from Balotelli

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini hopes his side reap the benefits from Mario Balotelli's controversial axing by Italy this week.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli left the maverick striker out of his squad for the midweek international friendly against the United States - a decision which attracted criticism after the game ended in defeat for the Azzurri.

Prandelli publicly cited Balotelli's indiscipline as the reason for his omission and earned a rebuke from the player's agent as a result.

Yet with Balotelli having only returned to Barclays Premier League action after a four-match domestic ban for stamping on Tottenham's Scott Parker last week, Mancini has also recently reminded the 21-year-old of his responsibilities.

He now hopes Prandelli's remarks reinforce his own as City look to claim their first league title since 1968.

Mancini said: "We hope that after Tottenham he can now play all the games until the end without problem.

"I think every year he can improve because he is young but, with Mario, in every moment anything can happen.

"But I hope after this week, when he didn't play for the national team, this can put him in a good way for the last two months.

"He should understand when you play you should have concentration about the game, about your team-mates, the ball, movement - not other things. He needs to improve this."

Prandelli pointed out that Balotelli has been sent off twice for City this season and missed eight games through suspension, although three of those were a European ban hanging over from last year.

Even though Balotelli impressed last weekend with a determined, disciplined and goalscoring display in the 3-0 win over Blackburn, Mancini does not have a problem with the issue being raised again.

Mancini said: "I think it is correct. We know that Mario is a top player but he should improve his behaviour.

"For the national team it is important. When you go to play in the European Championship and you only play three or five games, you should have good behaviour."

Mancini, however, is in no doubt who Prandelli should be looking at to lead his line at Euro 2012 this summer.

"Mario is the best Italian striker, for sure - 100%," he said. Balotelli will again compete for a starting spot with Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko - who also both scored against Blackburn - to face Bolton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The other City striker to have made headlines this week is Carlos Tevez, who had a run-out with the reserves on Tuesday.

The Argentinian is back in training following the closure of his dispute with the club but is still short of match fitness.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle claims Manchester City and their formidable home record will not faze his struggling team.

Coyle not only remains confident his side can beat relegation but feels they are capable of springing a surprise against the leaders.

City have won all 13 of their home league matches this season and 18 in succession stretching back a whole year.

Bolton remain in the bottom three after a 3-0 defeat at Chelsea last week but that result - an 18th defeat of the campaign - has not dulled Coyle's optimism.

Coyle said: "We go into every match thinking we can win. We were terrific against Manchester City earlier in the season when we lost 3-2. We showed we were a threat. "We will go there looking to be positive.

We recognise the quality they have - they have won every home game in the last year and are an outstanding side.

"If you spend £350million you can build a team like that but it won't stop us going there to be positive.

"It will be difficult but all 11 of our players will be focused. "We are not going to say we can compete with elite clubs over 38 games in the league but, on any given day, we absolutely can.

"Who's to say Saturday won't be our day? The lads are always confident."

Midfielder Mark Davies (hamstring) is hoping to prove his fitness, veteran striker Kevin Davies (knee) is again doubtful while Iceland defender Gretar Steinsson (calf) will be assessed after suffering a knock on international duty.

On-loan Dedryck Boyata is ineligible to play against his parent club but fellow defender Joe Riley (foot) is back in contention.

Man City V Bolton - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game live.


PA

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