Mancini urges Balotelli to behave
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has pleaded with Mario Balotelli to control his on-field behaviour for the remainder of the season as the striker prepares to make his return from a four-match suspension.
Balotelli, slapped with his most recent ban for stamping on Tottenham's Scott Parker, is expected to feature alongside Edin Dzeko and David Silva in a three-pronged attack for City when they face Europa League title holders FC Porto on Thursday.
Mancini revealed he has confronted Balotelli over his discipline so that the 21-year-old can remain part of the club's challenge for silverware, both domestically and on the continent.
"I have spoken to Mario two weeks ago. I said: 'Please, we have 13 games to play [in the league] as well as the Europa League - try to have good behaviour on the pitch and think to only play football.
"Mario is an important player for us, he has a good quality. He can play with Edin [Dzeko], with Sergio [Aguero]. I think if his head will be OK in the next two months, he will be an important player.
"It's difficult to find a good definition for him. We know that Mario is a fantastic player. He's young, sometimes he will do some mistakes but for this reason, if he can keep his composure for the next months, he will be an important player for us, in the Europa League and the Premier League.
"It's my opinion that at this moment all the players will be important. It's important for me to have all players between now and the end of the season. If we want to get to the final of the Europa League or win the Premier League, it's important to have all players ready and available for all games. Mario is one of them. Now we'll have three strikers for tomorrow, I think that's a good thing for me and for this game."
Meanwhile, Yaya and Kolo Toure have flown directly to Portugal after competing in the African Cup of Nations final, which the Ivory Coast lost to Zambia on penalties. But Mancini remains unsure whether the pair will take part in the Europa League encounter, saying: "I don't know. Before I need to speak to them and tomorrow it will be decided. They arrived here this morning."