Roberto Mancini has once again opened the door for Carlos Tevez to return to Manchester City after admitting that the striker could be back in training next week.
The Argentine has been a controversial figure since apparently refusing to enter the field of play in a 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League and has since been the centre of constant transfer speculation, with Inter, AC Milan and Paris Saint-German interested.
Mancini said after the Bayern defeat that Tevez would never play for the club again but has since softened his stance and will offer him another chance to resume his City career.
“It’s up to him, Carlos knows everything. We are here, we didn’t change in this three months. Carlos is a City player,” he told reporters.
“I spoke to Carlos a week after [the Bayern Munich match]. Carlos knows everything. This is normal and after he can play and train if his condition is good.
“I forgive all the people every time.”
When asked whether Tevez could be in Manchester next week, he added: “I don’t know, I hope so.”
Mancini was speaking after City’s 1-0 win over Aston Villa which returned them to the top of the Premier League table after Manchester United’s victory over Liverpool.
Joleon Lescott struck in the second half, turning home in the six-yard box after Gareth Barry had headed James Milner’s corner back across goal.
Afterwards, Mancini praised his players for delivering an important victory as he looks forward to the return of established players such as Kolo and Yaya Toure and Mario Balotelli to the side.
“I was very pleased with all the players because I think that they did a very good performance, they played very well,” he said.
“We conceded only one chance. We played very well, we had a lot of possession, we had many chances to score. It is not easy to play against Aston Villa because they are a good team, but if you do not score two goals then you take some risk.
“For us December, January, they were difficult months because we had players injured, players banned, players away.
“But now in February we are still in the top. Next week we will have all the players, this is very important for us but to stay on the top with Manchester United and Tottenham I think we are very strong, because United are still better than us. Until we win the title United are better.”
Mancini was indebted to Joe Hart for a wonderful save at the end as he denied Darren Bent from point-blank range with Villa pushing for a late equaliser.
It was the England goalkeeper’s only meaningful contribution in a match which City dominated, but despite his heroics at the death, the Italian claimed that he still has some way to go before he can be seen as world class.
“It is important to have a good goalkeeper," he said. "I think that Joe is a good keeper. He is young, he needs to improve but he can become one of the best keepers in the world.”
When questioned whether he was world class now, Mancini added: “No. He played three seasons in the Premier League. When one is a young player he needs to work a lot, needs to improve every day. I think that he improved a lot in the last three years but he’s only 24. He needs time. If you say he’s now already one of the best keepers then it’s bad for him.”