Roberto Mancini has admitted Manchester City have not seen the best of Patrick Vieira.
The former Arsenal skipper arrived at Eastlands in January with high expectations after quitting Inter Milan's Champions League quest. Yet Vieira was not able to play until the beginning of February due to a calf injury suffered in his final game for Inter and then had to serve a three-match suspension following an incident with Glenn Whelan during a Premier League game at Stoke that escaped the attention of referee Alan Wiley at the time.
Since then, the Frenchman has struggled for form, and was below-par in Monday night's victory over Wigan, which kept City in line for a top-four finish. "Patrick is probably not playing like the player everyone knows," said Mancini. "When he arrived here he had an injury, although after that he improved before he had to miss another three games."
He added: "He could improve but he needs to play more games because Patrick can be an important to us."
Vieira is in contention for Saturday's trip to Burnley because Mancini is considering leaving out Nigel de Jong, who is one booking away from a two-match suspension.
The presence of the combative De Jong, plus England anchorman Gareth Barry, is one of the reasons why Vieira has struggled to hold down a regular place as Mancini tries to steer City into a Champions League berth.
"At the moment I have three midfielders and we only play with two, so someone has to be on the bench," said the City boss.
"But he could be a very important player against Manchester United and Arsenal later this month because they are the games when we must play well."
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