Developing

Mancini Plans To Keep Balotelli Despite Clash

Manchester City's manager has played down a training ground bust-up with Italian footballer Mario Balotelli.

Roberto Mancini told reporters that the confrontation did not amount to a "fight" and that he would not take action against the temperamental striker or sell him as a result of the incident.

"I will give him another 100 chances if possible, if I think he can change," said the manager, also an Italian.

Mancini did say he had lost his temper when Balotelli made a reckless challenge on team-mate Scott Sinclair at the club's Carrington training base on the outskirts of Manchester on Thursday.

The manager told Balotelli to leave the pitch, and when he refused, Mancini went up to him and gripped his orange bib.

Photos show the two men being separated by members of the coaching staff.

"I said to him, 'Go inside, leave the pitch'. He said no and I took his shirt and pushed him out of the pitch," Mancini said, adding it was "nothing special".

Asked if he had lost his temper, Mancini said: "For two seconds yes. Three, four seconds because he didn't want to leave the pitch. For me he should leave because he did one thing he can't do against anyone."

But Mancini said he had no regrets over the incident.

"These are things that can happen" - though, he conceded, "usually between two players".

Balotelli, 22, has a history of controversy and several red cards since he arrived in Manchester from Inter Milan in 2010, and the incident rekindled doubts over his future with the Premier League champions.

But Mancini said: "Mario is like this but my thought doesn't change. "This is not important."

The manager has previously warned Balotelli, an Italy international, that he risks wasting his talent.

Amid speculation that Balotelli might move back to Italy, AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi appears to have closed the door, saying: "He doesn't convince me as a man."

And an online survey in top-selling Gazzetta dello Sport reveals that 70% of football fans in Italy do not want to see Balotelli in Serie A on grounds he is a "hot head".