Mancini 'happy' with Balotelli

Mancini 'happy' with Balotelli

Published Jan. 11, 2013 7:15 a.m. ET

New Reading signings Daniel Carrico and Hope Akpan are poised to make their debuts against West Brom on Saturday.

Jason Roberts continues to be troubled by a hip problem, while Hal Robson-Kanu is a doubt with a knee injury. Mikele Leigertwood could also miss out with an unspecified knock.

Alex McCarthy is making encouraging progress following shoulder surgery and should return before the end of the season.

West Brom winger Jerome Thomas is in contention to replace long-term knee injury victim Zoltan Gera at the Madejski Stadium.


Thomas proved his fitness after an injury-hit start to the season during a loan spell at Leeds and appeared as a substitute during the Baggies' FA Cup tie at QPR last weekend.

Defenders Jonas Olsson (groin), Steven Reid (ankle) and Goran Popov (hamstring) plus midfielder Claudio Yacob (hamstring) remain doubtful while Youssouf Mulumbu is on Africa Cup of Nations duty with DR Congo.

Regan made his claims as he responded to comments by former SFA president George Peat, who claims he and Scottish Premier League chief executive Neil Doncaster are out of touch with Scottish football.

Peat had insisted that the new 12-12-18 plan to restructure the Scottish league system was not backed by football supporters.

However, Regan insists the new joint proposals from the SPL and the Scottish Football League, which he and the SFA helped broker, will benefit the game north of the border and defended his own reputation.

He told the Daily Record: "I'd say I have delivered more in the last two years than the SFA has delivered in the previous two decades.

"George has his own view but it's disappointing to hear his comments because he was instrumental in my appointment.

"He has seen the benefits and his legacy will be the implementation of the McLeish Report which I have delivered for him. My credibility is not at stake."

Balotelli's future has been the subject of much speculation due to his fringe role this season as well as a training ground bust-up with Mancini last week.

And Inter Milan have claimed they have first option to take him back to Italy if he leaves the Etihad.

Mancini, who has has repeatedly backed Balotelli throughout a long line of controversies, immediately played down the confrontation in last Friday's press conference and insisted he was prepared to give his fellow Italian "another 100 chances" at the club.

That has not stopped reports from suggesting AC Milan are willing to give Balotelli a way out of Eastlands in the January transfer window but Mancini was indignant when asked about the latest transfer speculation.

"No, it is not true. I am very, very happy (with Mario)," he said on Friday.

Former club Inter have waded into the equation, with sporting director Piero Ausilio claiming they have first refusal on Balotelli, who moved from the San Siro to City in August 2010.

"The right of first refusal is there," Ausilio told Italian magazine Panorama.

"If Inter decide to exercise it, it will be a choice that will be made if City should decide to sell him. Balotelli technically can fit alongside any attacker."

Balotelli had missed four games with a virus prior to his return as a substitute against Watford in the FA Cup last week.

He made a surprise appearance for City's Under-21s on Monday and scored two goals in a friendly against Blackburn, while the 22-year-old has also dyed his hair blond this week.

Asked if this was a fresh start for Balotelli, Mancini said: "Next question! No, I hope. He went with the under-21s because he needed a game.

"After 40 days without a game, he needed one game. He trained well and I hope this year will be different."