Manchester City outcast Carlos Tevez could still play for the club in the Premier League title run-in if he returned from Argentina, manager Roberto Mancini was quoted as saying in British media on Sunday.
“Everyone knows Carlos is a top player,” the City manager was reported as saying in The Observer. “If he was here and playing it would be better, because Carlos can change games.
“If he were to come back next week maybe he can still help us in the next three months.”
The 28-year-old Argentine striker, who fell out with Mancini after failing to heed his instructions to warm up during a Champions league game in September, had been widely expected to leave the club in the January transfer window.
However, despite interest from AC Milan, Inter Milan and Paris St Germain he was not sold.
He has been fined six weeks’ wages for gross misconduct over his disappearance to Argentina without permission in November, a punishment he is appealing to the Premier League, and has also not been paid while he has been absent.
How soon Tevez could feature again for City, who are a point behind local rivals Manchester United with a game in hand ahead of Sunday’s visit to Aston Villa, would depend on how quickly he could regain match fitness if he did come back to the club.
He last played for city in a League Cup win over Birmingham city on September 21.
“It depends on his condition, and when he returns,” added Mancini. “We have already played a lot of games with only one striker. But Carlos knows the situation.
“I talked to him before he left, to try to resolve this situation, and if he comes back we can talk again. I don’t have any problem with that. If he wants to play, it could happen.”