Mario Balotelli is expected to return to action for Manchester City next Sunday when his side face Notts County in the FA Cup fourth round replay, Sky Sports has revealed.
The Italian striker has been out of action since December 28 with a recurring knee problem and Roberto Mancini could be set to hand the 20-year-old his first start since his side’s 4-0 victory over Aston Villa before the turn of the year.
Mancini said: “Mario Balotelli can go on the bench for the next home game against Notts County.”
The former Inter striker will not feature in the Citizens’ Europa League tie on Thursday but should be fit enough to play in their next domestic fixture.
No Neymar contact.
Manchester City have dismissed claims that they have authorised any agent to contact Santos star Neymar about a possible transfer, according to The News of the World.
Agent Andrea D’Amico told the Brazilian club that he had been told by Roberto Mancini that City were interested in the young striker and were looking to open negotiations with him.
A spokeswoman for the club has since rejected any claims that they gave the green light for any agent to contact Santos or their 19-year-old striker: “No one in authority at Manchester City has authorised an agent to act on the club’s behalf in negotiations relating to Neymar.”
The Brazilian international has caught the attention of Europe’s elite over the past few months with Chelsea having a bid rejected for the youngster last summer.
More big names needed.
Manchester City’s owners need to spend more money on marquee signings if they are to challenge for the Premier League title and the Champions League, says former Citizens chairman and player Francis Lee.
Lee believes that the Blues’ title chances are now dead after their 2-1 defeat to league leaders and city rivals Manchester United on Saturday and says that current owner Sheikh Mansour has not spent enough money to challenge the greatest teams in the world to silverware.
Lee told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I don’t think you can win the Premier League with this team – you need a couple of more knockout drops.
“Tevez is a wonderful striker but he just hasn’t got that support up front. We just don’t have that real cutting edge that can dominate games. We can pass it intricately but we just don’t have that knockout drop and if Tevez doesn’t do it we are struggling a bit.
“Dzeko needs time to settle in because it’s patently obvious he had not adjusted to the speed of the Premier League. He should be a very good player [eventually] but if Tevez gets injured you need someone who can really stick it away and they are very difficult to find.
“I think there’s a dearth of very, very high-class players – you are buying a lot of top-class average.”