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Ball back in Tevez court

ROBERTO MANCINI has hinted at a softening stance on Carlos Tevez by claiming the Argentine will be restored to the Manchester City squad if he says the "easiest word" and apologises for the actions that have made him an outcast at the club.

Tevez, absent for the Champions League Group A match against Villarreal in Spain, is considering an appeal against a fine of two weeks' wages -- reduced from four weeks following the intervention of the Professional Footballers' Association -- after being found guilty of five breaches of contract as a substitute during the 2-0 defeat against Bayern Munich on September 30.

City manager Mancini had declared that Tevez was "finished" at the club and would "never" play under him again after accusing the 27-year-old of refusing to play in the Allianz Arena.

But with Tevez and his advisers considering suing the Italian for defamation and City faced with the prospect of the player triggering FIFA's Article 15 and attempting to force a cancellation of his contract at the end of the season should he continue to be overlooked, Mancini is open to the prospect of a truce -- but only if Tevez apologises for the events in Munich.

"Everything depends on Carlos," Mancini said. "If he apologises to the squad and to me, then everything will be as before. Every morning -- every day -- we can all make mistakes, but it's important that we apologise. If we do, then it is finished. I think like this.

"He needs to do it first. It's an easy word. I think it's one of the easiest words to say. It's very easy to say sorry." Mancini held talks with Tevez at his Cheshire home three weeks ago in an effort to resolve the situation, but those discussions failed to persuade Tevez to apologise.

But with both parties involved in an increasingly divisive war of words, Mancini claims that Tevez is being undermined by the guidance offered by his advisers.

Mancini said: "I always did (apologise as a player). Every time. I told Carlos this 20 days ago. If he doesn't (apologise), then Tevez has a value that everyone knows and something will happen in January.

"No one from City will be given away. But he is totally unprepared and being badly advised. I don't want it to be like this and I would be the first to forgive him."

With the prospect of Tevez invoking Article 15 -- which allows players to request a cancellation of their contract on the grounds of sporting just cause if they appear in less than 10 per cent of first-team fixtures in a season -- it is understood that Mancini is aware of the likelihood that he may have to reintegrate the player into his squad at some stage, perhaps even restoring him to the first team.

The 2009 precedent of Goran Pandev successfully challenging Lazio's decision to force him to train alone after falling into dispute with the club has been raised by the media in relation to the Tevez situation, although the two cases are not identical.

Sources close to Tevez last night declined to comment on Mancini's call for an apology, however, and the situation on the player's part remains unchanged, with discussions still ongoing as to whether he should appeal against the punishment issued by the club last week.

Mancini, who has named Kolo Toure in his squad despite the defender being the subject of a club disciplinary hearing on Monday over his failed drug test, has warned his players to expect a tough test against Villarreal tonight. The Spaniards left Manchester after a 2-1 defeat last month aggrieved by comments by Sergio Aguero, who scored an injury-time winner for City, suggesting that Villarreal "deserved" to suffer the agony of conceding the late goal.

Aguero had already earned a reputation as a controversial figure at Villarreal as a result of highly charged clashes against the club while with Atletico Madrid, but Mancini insists the forward will not be distracted tonight.

"Sergio didn't do anything (after the Villarreal game)," Mancini said. "If he plays he will be okay. He is experienced and has played at Villarreal many times with Atletico. It won't be easy because it is a difficult place to go to. But Sergio will cope with it."

Having been held to a draw by Napoli before losing to Bayern, City must beat Villarreal, who are without cruciate ligament victim Giuseppe Rossi, to ensure they remain in control of their Champions League destiny.

But Mancini, who has Mario Balotelli available again after a three-match European suspension, believes that his team's fate will be decided by their trip to Naples later this month.

"If we do well in Naples, then maybe we can play Bayern in the last group game for the right to finish first," he said.


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