MANCHESTER CITY striker Mario Balotelli displayed more evidence of the fiery temperament his manager Roberto Mancini is so desperate to get rid of when he clashed with his team-mate Jerome Boateng in training.
The City manager, who has seen midfielders James Milner and Yaya Toure involved in a heated tunnel argument and Emmanuel Adebayor and Vincent Kompany row on the pitch this season, separated Balotelli and Boateng.
Balotelli reacted after a tackle from the German defender and the two had to be pulled apart, though they later made up.
City insisted last night that the clash had lasted for a few seconds and was reflective of the competitive spirit in the ranks but the fact that the two have been pictured will be an irritation to Mancini, who has insisted that 20-year-old Balotelli's temperament is the only impediment to him becoming a world-class player.
More evidence of the struggle to maintain harmony at the club has come in a declaration from City's £22m signing Joleon Lescott that he wants to leave because he believes his lack of starts is jeopardising his England career.
Lescott has said he is "not happy with the situation" after Vincent Kompany's presence has limited him to five league starts all season and sees a time when the England manager, Fabio Capello, will stop selecting him.
The former Everton defender has been behind both Kompany and Kolo Toure in the City pecking order, and has often been deployed as a left-back when he has played.
With Mancini even preferring Belgian teenager Dedryck Boyata on occasion, Lescott admitted he is considering his future.
"I'm not happy with the situation. I don't enjoy sitting on the bench, and sometimes not even making the bench," he said.
Lescott said he would be open to a loan if his salary and transfer fee ruled out a permanent move.
"That's down to myself and the club," Lescott said.
"The club might say 'If there's a chance to play, go and play' and, if not, I will have to stay here."
However, Lescott insisted he never regrets joining City.
"The squad's big and there is a lot of quality here so I knew it wasn't going to be a foregone conclusion that I was going to start every game," he said.
"You have to respect the manager's decision and it's warranted because Kolo and Vincent have been outstanding so far this season, but when I've gone in I think I have done okay.
"I've never regretted my decision to come here.
"Mark Hughes was in charge at the time and I was playing every game but, even now, I still don't regret it.
"It's unfortunate that I'm not playing as much as I'd like, but you just have to get on with it sometimes. I'm a professional and level-headed person. I know situations come and go.
"Next week there might be an injury and I could be back in the team for the rest of the season. I just have to be ready for that, in case it happens."
Lescott has retained his England place to date, but believes that might soon change if he does not get in the City team.
"Fabio [Capello] has kept his confidence in me when other players have gone down with injury [Lescott has started the last three matches] and I'm grateful for that but there's going to come a time when, if I'm not playing for City, I'm not going to be in the England squad as well," he said.