FA Cup - Mancini: Tevez not a certain starter

Wed, 11 May 01:17:00 2011

Manchester City captain Carlos Tevez is likely to play some part in this weekend's FA Cup final against Stoke City after coming on towards the end of Tuesday's 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

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The Argentine, the club's top scorer this season with 19 league goals and often their most influential player, had not featured since the loss at Liverpool on April 11 when he tore a hamstring and his return is a big boost before Saturday's final.

Manager Roberto Mancini had said before Tuesday's game at Eastlands that if he did not play some part against Spurs it would be "impossible" for him to make the Wembley final, where City will be chasing their first silverware for 35 years.

Having teased the excited crowd by getting Tevez to warm up a few times during the game, Mancini finally sent on the fans' favourite to a standing ovation in the 83rd minute.

How much of a part Tevez will play against Stoke remains to be seen as Mancini hinted he might not start him.

"It was important that he played 15 minutes. We have four days, I want to take all the time to decide," the Italian said.

"I don't think he can be ready 100 per cent because he played only 15 minutes, he did only one week's training with the team but we have four days (before the game)."

City clinched a top-four finish and a Champions League qualifying berth for the first time with the win over Tottenham which came courtesy of an own goal from Peter Crouch.

They even finish the season in third - and an automatic spot in the group stage - having moved to within two points of Arsenal with the win.

"When you have a target and get it, it is very important for your job," he smiled.

"But I am happy for the supporters and the club first of all."

He added: "If we didn't throw three points out of the window against Everton on Saturday, we could probably finish third.

"I don't know how we lost this game. Now it is difficult.

"We have two games left. But now it is very important to think about the FA Cup final."

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was left to rue injuries to key players that he feels have impacted on his side's season.

"The biggest problems in this run where we have fallen out of the top four are that we lost Gareth Bale and Rafael van der Vaart has suddenly become a bit jaded due to the World Cup and not having a pre-season," he said.

"When they were in top form, we were killing teams off as well as playing good football.

"Not too many teams play better than we do. That means a lot to me.

"I enjoy watching us play. I would rather that than us play awful football and keep lumping the ball.

"I want to enjoy the last few years I have got in football."

Eurosport / Reuters

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