| 6.5°C Dublin

Balotelli urges fans to get behind Tevez on return

MANCHESTER City striker Mario Balotelli has urged fans to hold back on their boos when fellow striker Carlos Tevez returns to action after his lengthy fall-out with the Premier League leaders.

Tevez, who scored his first goal in a City shirt on Tuesday playing for the reserves, is getting closer to a first-team return, although manager Roberto Mancini has not said whether he will feature against Swansea City tomorrow.

What reception he would get is the subject of much speculation, as fans who burned shirts with his name on during his unauthorised absence prepare to see him don the sky blue kit they thought their former captain would never wear again.

Balotelli, who along with forwards Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko have ensured City have barely missed Tevez, who has not played for the club since September, sought to get fans to welcome back the Argentine as he has apologised for his actions.

"Supporters have to be like they were before," said Balotelli. "If they make pressure on Carlos, they make pressure to all the team, so they should do nothing. Everyone can make a mistake. Carlos is part of the team, so everybody loves him."


The Swansea game is probably too soon for Tevez to return, although there could be an opening if Mancini rests some players before next week's Europa League round-of-16 second leg at home to Sporting Lisbon, when they need to overturn a 1-0 deficit.

The Italian, whose side are two points clear of Manchester United at the top of the table, cannot afford to take any chances at Swansea -- a team he has praised for playing the most attractive football in the league.

"It will be a tricky game because Swansea play well ... and we need to play well if we want to beat them," Mancini said. "Swansea at home are fantastic, they are having a good season, but we must continue to win. It will be a good championship."

City make the trip to Wales without captain Vincent Kompany, who faces at least 10 days on the sidelines with a calf injury sustained in Lisbon.