Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini appeared to close the door on a return for outcast Carlos Tevez on Friday, saying there was no way back for the striker who is in Argentina without the club's permission.
Mancini had offered the Argentine an olive branch earlier this month by saying that if he apologised for refusing to warm up in their Champions League match against Bayern Munich in September things could go back to normal.
That option receded on Friday, when Mancini was asked at a news conference if Tevez could return to play for City.
"No, I don't think [so]," the Italian replied.
Mancini has reverted to the stance he expressed after that game in Munich, when he said the player was "finished" at the club, which suspended him after the incident and fined him following an internal review.
Tevez had returned to training but last week failed to show up, saying he had gone to visit family in his homeland.
Asked if he expected to see Tevez at City again, the manager replied: "I don't know because I know that he is in Argentina but I don't know other things."
Mancini managed to crack a small joke over the situation, while also making it clear it was time to move on.
"He can't play tomorrow," he grinned, referring to Saturday's match at home to the league's only other unbeaten team, Newcastle United.
"We can't continue to talk about Carlos, we have an important game."
He added that there had been no contact between the player and the club, contrary to media reports that club officials had been talking to his representative.
"Why we should continue to talk about Carlos?" Mancini asked. "It is not a problem in this moment. We had this problem... we hope we can resolve everything."
Despite the off-field saga surrounding the club's former captain and one-time fan favourite, Mancini's men have not appeared to let it distract them from matters on the pitch.
With 31 points from 11 games, City have a five-point lead over Manchester United at the top of the Premier League, while their next opponents Newcastle United are in third, one point behind the champions.
"The only important thing is this - that the squad is good, the players are positive in this moment," Mancini said.
Attack-minded City have scored 39 goals in 11 games but could finally be halted in their tracks when they come up against the league's most miserly defence this weekend.
Alan Pardew's Newcastle have let in just eight goals in an excellent start to the season that Mancini said made them a tough prospect.
"Their confidence is 100 percent, they play very well. I watched the game against Stoke, they played fantastic football, they deserved to beat Stoke," Mancini said.
"In this moment they are a strong team, they have conceded very few goals."comments