Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini says he will trust Mario Balotelli if he plays him in Monday’s Manchester derby, but “only in this game”.
At a news conference four weeks ago, Mancini stated he could ”never” trust the unpredictable Italian striker.
The 21-year-old has not played since being sent off against Arsenal earlier this month. At the time Mancini said he would not play again this season.
“Can he be trusted? I think for this game yes. Only in this game,” he said.
“Mario is a player like others who is available for Monday and I will decide.
“He has apologised for the sending-off at Arsenal. He is training well. Mario can score two or three goals if he wants.”
Balotelli’s dismissal at Emirates Stadium came when a needless foul on Bacary Sagna led to a second yellow card. City went on to lose the game 1-0.
Mancini faces another selection dilemma among the forwards as he ponders Carlos Tevez’s position. ”It is impossible for him to be 100% after six months without playing,” said the City boss.
“His experience and cleverness have got four, five goals and it is important. His contribution has probably been greater than I expected.
“I hope that, in the next three games, he continues to do this. I think he can find his best form next season.”
The former Inter Milan boss says City fans ought to be upbeat after the match – regardless of the result.
“We should be proud of our season,” he explained. “We have 22 points more than Chelsea, who are in the Champions League final, and 14 more than Arsenal – and 31 more than Liverpool.
“If we are worried for this then I think that one side of football is really crazy.”
He also denied that the game against United is “make-or-break”, saying: “I don’t think it is a decider. We play Newcastle who are one of the best teams in the Premier League and they have had a good season and have a fantastic manager. Then QPR come here and may need to win.”
Mancini said United will be favourites to win the Premier League, even if City win on Monday. Victory at Etihad Stadium would mean City go top of the Premier League on goal difference.