Mancini expects Balotelli clashes

PA Sport
Mario Balotelli
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Mario Balotelli

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has warned striker Mario Balotelli to expect opponents to test his temperament.

Mancini accused Liverpool players of provoking the mercurial Italy forward when he was sent off in the Barclays Premier League leaders' draw at Anfield last week. Balotelli's dismissal, after he received a second yellow card for a challenge on Martin Skrtel, was his third since joining City 16 months ago and Mancini fears he could become a target for streetwise opponents.

Mancini said: "Mario should pay attention and he should be clever. I can do nothing - only he is on the pitch. He should pay attention and think only about football and not other things."

He added: "I think he made a mistake only for the first foul when he took the first yellow card. Then he should not take any risks."

Balotelli, a second-half substitute, had been on the field just 18 minutes when he clashed with Skrtel in the 83rd minute.

It was another controversial moment in the eventful career of the 21-year-old, who has shown greater consistency this season and scored nine times.

Mancini said: "He is more mature, this is clear. But in my opinion, if Mario was on the pitch in the last 20 minutes we could have won the game.

"It is important Mario understands we need him as a player on the pitch."

Balotelli is back in contention for Saturday's home clash with Norwich after serving the ban for his red card by sitting out the midweek Carling Cup quarter-final win at Arsenal.

Midfielder Gareth Barry is also available again after a one-game suspension for reaching five yellow cards.

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