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Jan 4, 2013

Mancini plays down Balotelli row

Roberto Mancini has said he will not sell Mario Balotelli after their training-ground bust-up and is prepared to give his badly-behaved striker "another 100 chances".

• Bennett: Mario v Mancini
• Blog: Transfer list or team sheet?

The Manchester City manager admitted he lost his temper with Balotelli for a couple of seconds on Thursday but insists pictures of him grabbing the forward made the incident look worse that it really was.

Mancini insisted his relationship with Balotelli is unchanged and said the 22-year-old could be on the bench for Saturday's FA Cup tie against Watford.

He has ruled out taking disciplinary action against the former Inter Milan player but urged him once again to change his attitude to realise his potential.

Mancini was pictured grabbing his fellow Italian after Balotelli's challenge on Scott Sinclair in a practice match.

The 48-year-old explained: "We were playing a game and Mario kicked his team-mate and I said to him: 'Go inside, leave the pitch'. He said 'no', and I took his shirt and push him off the pitch. This is what really happened. There is no fight. The photo is worse than what happened. It wasn't a bad thing like [it looked] in the papers."

But he said that Balotelli does have a future at City. Asked if he would let the forward leave, he replied: "My thoughts don't change. No.

"I will give him another 100 chances if I think he can change. I give him another chance, sure, because he is 22 and he can do a mistake."

Mancini said he still has faith in Balotelli but admitted that the forward's temperament is a worry.

"What he did yesterday he can also do during the game," he added. "This is the problem. But I have faith, yes."

The manager said such incidents are normal on training grounds but accepted he lost his cool in the heat of the moment.

"For two seconds, yes," he conceded. "Because he didn't want to leave the pitch and he should leave. This is a thing that can happen. Usually it happens between two players but this was different."

He again warned Balotelli that it is up to him to realise his potential and that he must change before it is too late.

He added: "The problem could be himself. He doesn't change, for him it will be very difficult in the future: for him, not me. Mario could stay with me one day, one month, five years but his problem is himself. He is 22 years old. He needs to change. It is not easy to manage him."

Balotelli has not appeared for City since December's 3-2 home defeat in the Manchester derby - but Mancini believes he has not trained enough since recovering from a virus to start against Watford.

He said: "He trained only four times this week. He will not be in the starting line-up, but he may be on the bench."

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