Mancini hoping for Santa switch

Santa Cruz has played only once this season and was recently quoted

as stating his desire to leave City in the next transfer window. It

has been a disappointing time for the striker at Eastlands since

his arrival from Blackburn in 2009 and today Mancini gave the green

light for Santa Cruz to move on. “Roque is a fantastic man and a

good player, but he knows the situation here,” the City manager

said. “I am very sorry for him because Roque deserves to play every

game, because he works very well. “But it is difficult at the

moment. I hope for him that he can go to play for another team,

because he deserves this.” City take on Wolves at Molineux in the

Premier League tomorrow without Carlos Tevez, who suffered a thigh

injury in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat against Arsenal and has been

given permission to travel to Argentina to visit his family before

reporting back on Monday. Santa Cruz was also quoted as saying

Tevez wants to be back “among his people” in Argentina and that he

thinks the club captain will return to his homeland after his

current deal with City ends in 2014. Mancini has expressed his

sympathy for Tevez but is confident the 26-year-old – who he

expects to return to action against West Brom a week on Sunday –

will not be quitting Eastlands early. Referring to reports of Tevez

being homesick, Mancini said: “He never talks to me about this, but

I think it is normal. “When you are in another country for a long

time, it is normal that sometimes you need your country or your

family. “But he has his job here and it is a fantastic job. I don’t

think we have a problem.” Asked if he was worried Tevez might not

see out the whole of his contract at City, Mancini replied: “No,

not at all.” It has been suggested that Tevez is growing

disillusioned with football and particularly the dual demands of

playing for club and country. Mancini feels it would be beneficial

for the player if he was able to curb his commitments with the

Argentina national side. “It is impossible, I think, but maybe

sometimes when they have a friendly match it would be better for

him to stay here to recover,” the Italian said. “If it is possible,

it would be better for us and better for him. But when they are

important games with the national team, it is difficult.” Tevez’s

absence on Saturday could pave the way for Mario Balotelli to make

his first start for the club. The former Inter Milan striker, who

picked up a knee injury on his City debut against Timisoara in

August, saw his first action since then when he came off the bench

in the second half against Arsenal. Rumours had circulated that a

frustrated Balotelli might be looking for a swift return to Italy,

although quotes attributed to the player’s agent appeared in the

press this week indicating he was happy at City. Asked for his

reaction to that news, Mancini said: “I think Mario must start to

play here – this is the first thing. It is very important for us.

“He played for 20 minutes against Arsenal. He is a good player and

I think he will be a very important player for us this season.”