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Hull face key fortnight amid Martinez talk

Hull City

Mancini eager to close gap on United

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes his side are "very close" to rivalling Manchester United for the Premier League title.

• Roo has City in his sights
• United trio ruled out

FA Cup holders City finished third last season, nine points behind United, who claimed their 19th league crown. Mancini has since bolstered his side with Gael Clichy, Stefan Savic and Sergio Aguero in a bid to close the gap on their rivals.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's Community Shield meeting, Mancini accepts United are currently the benchmark but warned the Red Devils that City are striving to knock them off their perch.

He said: "Manchester United at the moment are on top. They are a strong team, they won the Barclays Premier League and have bought four or five good players. I think we are very close but at the moment they are above us."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, is relishing the competition, while predicting further additions at the Etihad Stadium, after Mancini confirmed his intention to bring in "another two or three players".

He said: "I thought maybe they would spend more this summer and that may still happen - they may still sign a couple more players. We get this almost every year when clubs around about us buy, and that's how you view the importance of winning the league these days.

"Chelsea had this great spell of buying when Jose [Mourinho] first went there and we accepted that challenge. It's good to accept challenges, it keeps the complacency away from your door and we carry on as best as we can."

Regarding Carlos Tevez, Mancini confirmed the Argentina international will return to the club on Monday amid conjecture over the striker's future after a move to Corinthians collapsed earlier this summer.

Mancini said: "We said he needed to come back on August 5 with Zaba [Pablo Zabaleta] but it was my mistake because I told him come back on August 8. Carlos comes back on Monday because he has 21 days after the Copa America."


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