Roberto Mancini has handed a boost to Manchester City fans after he revealed new signing Mario Balotelli could return by the end of October.
Balotelli, 20, injured his knee on his scoring debut for the club against FC Timisoara in August. The £21 million recruit from Inter had earlier this week stated he expected to be back in action only by the close of November.
Speaking to reporters, Mancini instead stated he expected the Italy international back much sooner and that Micah Richards could feature in the Europa League clash with Juventus on Thursday night.
"The situation is that we could recover Micah Richards for tomorrow but we'll see after training," the Italian was quoted as saying by Sky Sports News.
"Balotelli could be ready by the end of October. Today, he was in Italy and everything is OK and in four or five weeks he can return to play."
Mancini also refused to comment on fresh reports linking the Blues with a big money January bid for Liverpool superstar Fernando Torres.
"It is important to recover these players as this month is very important," the 45-year-old added.
"I think at this moment we must think about the games we have from now until December, we cannot think of these things."