Tevez blow hands supporting cast the chance to shine

City boss Mancini confident his big-money buys will come good and end United’s treble bid at Wembley

aMANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini insists he has total faith in strikers Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko, the men likely to be charged with the responsibility of replacing captain and talisman Carlos Tevez in tomorrow’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United at Wembley.

Mancini confirmed yesterday that former United striker Tevez is to miss at least the next four weeks of the run-in with the hamstring injury he picked up in Monday’s 3-0 defeat against Liverpool.

Both Balotelli and Dzeko have failed to live up to their hefty price-tags since their respective moves from Inter Milan and Wolfsburg, but Mancini is backing the duo to come good when it counts most.

“Tevez is not available for tomorrow,” Mancini said. “It is a big problem. But we can’t take any risks. We have six games left and hopefully we can get Carlos back for the last two or three games.

“I still have to decide what to do but both players (Dzeko and Balotelli) know this is an important chance for them. Every player knows this is an important moment for the club.

“I know we have improved a lot. The important thing is that we don’t go there and think about the enormity of the game. We cannot afford for our heads to get full with the occasion.”

More than anyone, that applies to Balotelli. The temperamental Italian has had a mixed debut season in England, with several disciplinary issues overshadowing glimpses of brilliance.

“I trust Mario,” insisted Mancini (left), who branded the 20-year-old “stupid” following his dismissal against Dynamo Kiev last month and then substituted him at Anfield this week even though he had been the man who replaced Tevez just over an hour earlier.

“He knows it is an important game for him. If his focus is on the game, he can do everything. We can change the history of the club. The first trophy is the hardest but it is time for City to win something.”

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson meanwhile, is denied the opportunity to select the in-form Wayne Rooney, who will be serving the final game of his domestic ban.

The England striker said:?“As most footballers will tell you, it’s probably more nerve-racking watching. But I believe we have got a good chance of winning and I am hoping the boys can pull through and get us to the final.”

THE FACTS: MARIO BALOTELLI
AGE: 20
TRANSFER FEE: £24M
APPEARANCES: 23
GOALS: 10
MINS PER GOAL: 141.1

THE FACTS: CARLOS TEVEZ
AGE: 27
TRANSFER FEE: £25.5M
APPEARANCES: 22
GOALS: 40
MINS PER GOAL: 147.5

THE FACTS: EDIN DZEKO
AGE: 25
TRANSFER FEE: £24M
APPEARANCES: 15
GOALS: 4
MINS PER GOAL: 257.8