Jose plays hard ball with Balotelli

MILAN - Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has threatened to leave Mario Balotelli on the sidelines if the teenage striker does not buck up and stop thinking of a loan move.

Italian media quoted Balotelli's brother and agent on Monday as saying that the 18-year-old wanted to spend the rest of the season on loan at another club after getting limited playing time under Mourinho this term.

The Portuguese coach responded by leaving the player out of his squad for Tuesday's Italian Cup tie at home to Genoa after also dropping him for Saturday's 1-1 draw with Cagliari in Serie A.

"Nothing has changed since the last time I called up a squad," Mourinho told a news conference on Monday. "His way of working is the same, his joy, or lack of joy, is the same, his attitude is the same.

"The only thing that has changed is that his brother has made it clear that Mario is thinking about being loaned out.

"We'll wait until the closure of the transfer market at the end of January, when he realises he's staying here. At that point there'll be no alternative to concentrating on his work with Inter.

"Maybe then his attitude will change, maybe he will return to the squad, but at the moment he does not seem to be in the condition to play."

Adriano, on the other hand, returns to Inter's squad for the Cup tie.

There has been speculation the troubled Brazil forward will move in January after irritating Mourinho with his alleged lack of commitment and missing the Serie A champions' first training session after the winter break.