Mancini: Man City forwards key to title hopes

Manchester City's strikers could be the trump card that ends the club's 44-year wait for the English league title as their leading trio are in form at just the right time in the season, manager Roberto Mancini said on Friday.

A goal each from Sergio Ageuro, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli secured a 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers last weekend, with the Premier League leaders finding themselves in the ideal situation of having all their main forwards scoring with ease.

With those three having scored 39 of the club's 67 league goals this season, City are either going to find it hard to bring back last term's top scorer Carlos Tevez when he is match-fit or will be even more potent when the Argentine returns.

Mancini said Tevez, who has been training to regain fitness after an unauthorised three-month absence from the club following a fall-out both parties want to put behind them, was still at least a couple of weeks away from first-team action.

"We know that Carlos is a top striker but in this moment he needs to train," the Italian manager told a news conference.

"It's important that in this moment all our strikers score goals, are in good form, this is very important because it is two months to the end [of the season] and it's important to have all the strikers ready."

Apart from the fitness of Tevez and the reception the Argentine can except to receive from the fans who feel betrayed by their former captain, the only concern hanging over City's prolific strike-force is the volatile temperament of Balotelli.


The Italian was dropped by national coach Cesare Prandelli for the midweek friendly with United States after serving a four-match domestic ban and told that unless he stopped getting into disciplinary trouble he could miss out on Euro 2012.

Mancini backed Prandelli's stance over the striker, whose spells of brilliance have often been overshadowed by off-field antics or on-field rushes of blood to the head.

"It's his [Prandelli's] decision. I think that could be correct because we know that Mario is a top player but he should improve his behaviour," Mancini said.

"For the national team it is important because when you go to play the European [Championships} and you play only three or four or five games, you should have good behaviour. But Mario is the best Italian striker, this is sure, 100 percent."

City will fancy their chances of another free-scoring display on Saturday when they host one of the league's leakiest defences in second-from-bottom Bolton Wanderers, who have let in just over two goals a game on average this season.

Victory would put City five points clear at the top for at least 24 hours as second-placed Manchester United do not play until Sunday when they face a difficult trip to third-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

City, aiming for a first English league title since 1968, have 63 points from 26 games, while champions United are on 61 and Spurs have 53.