Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini wants Mario Balotelli to raise his game even though the striker has an impressive scoring ratio in his first season at Eastlands.
Balotelli, 20, took his tally to nine goals in 14 appearances in the draw with Fulham on Sunday and the Italian could be back in action against Aston Villa in the FA Cup fifth round - the team he scored a hat-trick against in December.
Mancini is hoping his £24million buy from Inter Milan can kick on in the remaining crucial weeks of the campaign and he said: "I expect more because Mario has an incredible attitude to play football. He can play better."
The City boss continued: "He scored a fantastic goal on Sunday but after this he should have continued to play for the team. It is important that all the players work in the defensive phase when we lose the ball.
"Sometimes you do not play as well as you can. That's normal, also for Mario. He has come back after two months out and played two games in 10 days. But it's important when you are tired and play every three days, that you have the right mentality. That's the same for Mario and for all the players.
"They should understand for us this is a very important moment. This month is a key month for us because this month can change our future."
Mancini has re-iterated his desire to end 35 years of hurt and deliver a trophy to City. The Italian manager believes if they can succeed this season it will have a snowball effect.
City are also still involved in the Europa League and travel to Ukraine next week for the first leg of the last-16 tie against Dynamo Kiev.
He said: "We have a big chance of winning something and have two options. If we win one trophy it will lead to more trophies. This is important for our team. When I accepted this job I knew it was difficult but it is a big challenge and I believe we can win a trophy."
Mancini believes Villa will pose a sterner test than they did in December and added: "The last two or three weeks they have played better. But for us the FA Cup is important and we want to progress."
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