Football

Balotelli in line for Sunday action

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Mario Balotelli has vowed to put his Manchester City troubles behind him.

The fiery Italy forward issued an apology following his red card shame in Thursday's Europa League aggregate defeat to Dynamo Kiev. It was the latest in a growing list of controversial incidents involving the 20-year-old, with manager Roberto Mancini branding him "stupid" for the latest misdemeanour.

Balotelli accepts he was wrong to launch his studs-first challenge on Goran Popov, which brought his dismissal, but he insists he will get it right, and said: "It is not an easy period for me but I will overcome it with the help of everybody. I am very sorry to my team-mates in particular that I got sent off so early in such an important game."

It became apparent life around the former Inter Milan forward would be eventful when the player scored on his debut in Timisoara, then suffered a knee injury that kept him out for two months.

Balotelli also scored two goals in a victory over West Brom in October, after which he was sent off for two bookable offences. A string of off-field actions included wearing an AC Milan shirt on an Italian TV show, which antagonised the Inter fans he used to play for in addition to irritating those of City.

The reason for a late-night drive into a women's prison in Italy has never been fully explained, whilst he also had to be pulled apart from Jerome Boateng during a City training session in December. And even though the medical information was that Balotelli was in severe trouble, there was an element of farce about him suffering an allergic reaction to the grass in Kiev last week that forced his face to swell up.

The latest incident appeared to be a step too far for Mancini, who threatened to leave Balotelli out of Sunday's crucial Barclays Premier League trip to Chelsea. However, City officials have confirmed Balotelli is available for selection after his heartfelt apology, which he extended to Popov.

"I was trying my best for the team as I always do," he said. "The ball was in the air and I went for it with my foot high.

"I never tried to make contact with Popov and I certainly didn't want to hurt him. In retrospect, however, the tackle was poor. I should have showed more consideration but I was so involved in the game.

"It was not a good way to repay the manager who has shown so much faith in me or the owners and fans who have made me so welcome since I arrived from Italy. I hope they forgive me and see that I want success with Manchester City."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Europa League
West Bromwich Albion
Jerome Boateng
Football
Manchester City
Chelsea
Premier League
Mario Balotelli
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