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Liverpool and Man City renew hostilities

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Mancini plays down Balotelli omission

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has insisted his decision to leave Mario Balotelli out of his squad to face Newcastle was not an indication that the tempestuous striker is on borrowed time at Eastlands.

• ESPN analysis: Newcastle 1-3 Man City

Mancini's side bounced back from last weekend's derby defeat with a 3-1 victory over Newcastle at St James' Park, but Balotelli did not travel with his team-mates.

The Italy international was brought off by a disgusted Mancini during the 3-2 loss to Manchester United after a poor performance, but Balotelli's omission on Tyneside was not a sign that he is no longer part of the manager's plans.

Asked if Balotelli still had a future at City, Mancini said: "Yes. Why not? He was at home only because he needs to work.''

Mancini was happy to get back on track after losing ground on Premier League leaders United last Sunday.

He said: "I think all the players played very well - if not it's difficult to beat Newcastle. It could have finished six or seven.''

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