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The Toe Poke

Balotelli nets twice for Under-21s

Mario Balotelli continued his Manchester City rehabilitation by scoring twice in a 4-0 win for the club's Under-21 side on Monday afternoon.

• Tevez takes Balotelli under wing

Balotelli's future has been cast under a cloud after his much-publicised training ground 'grapple' with manager Roberto Mancini last week, but he let his football do the talking in the game against Blackburn and even turned down the chance to complete a hat-trick as he let his younger team-mates take two penalties.

After a 20-minute cameo performance in the FA Cup against Watford on Saturday, Balotelli topped up his fitness levels with a run-out at Platt Lane training ground and he will now be hoping to force his way back into first team contention ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Arsenal.

Meanwhile, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has reportedly suggested City are ready to let Balotelli leave in this January transfer window and has opened the door to the 22-year-old Italy striker moving to Naples.

He has also reiterated his club's desire to hang onto their marksman Edinson Cavani, amid fresh reports that both Chelsea and Manchester City are lining up mega-money bids for the Uruguayan striker.

"City are considering letting Balotelli go so they can move for Cavani," he questioned in an interview with "I would prefer to see Balotelli playing with Cavani here at Napoli."

He went on to predict there would be little movement of high-profile stars in the January transfer window, saying: "Teams tend to hold onto their best players in January. You take a big risk making big investments now."


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