Balotelli set for Manchester City comeback

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli could return to the side for their FA Cup clash with Watford on Saturday, assistant manager David Platt has revealed.

The Italian has been out of action over the festive period through illness, while his agent Mino Raiola has recently insisted his client will remain with the Premier League champions, with revealing AC Milan are preparing a bid to sign the former Inter man.

City were hampered by hamstring injury picked up by Sergio Aguero in their 3-0 win over Stoke on New Year’s Day which could see him ruled out for a couple of weeks while Yaya Toure played in his last league game before departing for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Platt told reporters: “Mario’s been back on the training pitch for the past two or three days, it looks as if he’s shifted the illness off. He trained this morning.

“The problem Mario had was he was ill, came back, trained, had a relapse with his illness and went back down again.

“It looks as though he’s got past that now and he’s had three days on the training pitch and he’ll have another three days before the game at the weekend so there’s every chance that he’ll be available for selection come the weekend.

“It’s irrelevant whether Yaya disappears or not, the challenge is to keep winning football games.

“We have a squad of players that we’ll have to choose 11 from them and whichever 11 we put on the park we would expect to go and take the points.”

Platt was speaking on behalf of Roberto Mancini following City’s win over Stoke, a result, and performance, that delighted the former England international.

“[I’m] happy with the result and the performance,” he said.

“We’ve just got to continue to win football matches. We’ve been producing chances in games over the last month or so, we lamented a bit at Sunderland but fortunately we’re getting our ratios up.

“I think you’ve got to give us credit, we didn’t give any silly fouls away that would’ve enabled them to put dangerous balls into our box.

“We stopped them from having a platform to come forward as well. We got the second and third goals in quick succession which basically killed them.”

Stoke boss Tony Pulis refused to criticise his players, despite slipping to a defeat at the Etihad Stadium, insisting he was satisfied with the work-rate displayed by his team.

“No complaints, they were the better team,” he admitted. “Don’t take anything away from City, they’re a good team, they played well today and they were better than us.

“If you ask me what the difference was it’s about £220m, for us to come here we have to bring our ‘A game’ and City have to be off it and that wasn’t the case today.

“But you have to open your eyes and look at the reality of everything and they’ve got a bit of a headstart on clubs like us.

“I’m not going to criticise the players, they’ve worked their socks off. There are certain clubs in this league that are ahead of us, and City are [one of them].

“For us to come and play against them and do well, it’s the same with four or five other clubs, we have to be at our maximum, we weren’t today.”

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