Balotelli loses cool in training ground bust-up
Mario Balotelli displayed more evidence of the fiery temperament his Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is so desperate to remove from his game yesterday, when he clashed with his team-mate Jerome Boateng in training.
Balotelli, who is expected to start for City at home to Bolton today, 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 only a few seconds and was reflective of the competitive spirit in the ranks but the fact that the incident was caught by cameras will be an irritation to Mancini, who has said 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" -- Vincent Kompany's presence has limited him to five league starts all season -- and the defender sees a time when Fabio Capello will stop selecting him.
It is not thought Mancini will want to lose the player, but the club might be willing to consider a loan request and the player's availability will be of interest to other Premier League managers.
Harry Redknapp is among those who inquired after him in the summer, although the Tottenham manager infuriated City by suggesting that they were offering the player on loan at that stage -- and even if City do sanction a loan it is unlikely that they will allow a rival for a top-four place to take such a player from them
Lescott (28) has looked overvalued at the £22m Everton managed to get out of City for his services, though his problems in establishing himself were compounded by the hamstring injury sustained at Fulham last season which also ruled him out the World Cup.
Despite his limited chances, both at centre-half and at left-back at City, he did perform well for Capello in England's Euro 2012 qualifier in Switzerland in September.
"Of course, I'm not happy with the situation," said Lescott. "I don't enjoy sitting on the bench, and sometimes not even making the bench, so I'm not happy with that. If some weeks I'm not involved and the next week I'm starting I have to give 100pc at all times.
"Fabio has kept his confidence in me when other players have gone down with injury 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.
"It means I need to keep playing well when I get the chance."
Asked if he would seek a January loan, Lescott replied: "That's down to me and the club. The club might say 'if there's a chance to play, go and play' and, if not, I will have to stay here."
Lescott's arrival was a source of huge acrimony with Everton, but the defender insisted that he had not regretted the move. "I've never regretted my decision to come here," he said.
"At the time Mark Hughes was in charge and I was playing every game and 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. At the moment I'm not playing but next week there might be an injury and I will be in the team for the rest of the season. I just have to be ready for that." (© Independent News Service)