Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini accepts it will be tough keeping Mario Balotelli happy if he continues to miss big matches.
Balotelli did not even make City's squad for the high-profile Champions League encounter with Real Madrid on Tuesday. Mancini rejected talk of a bust-up between the pair, insisting it had been a "tactical decision".
"It is difficult to keep Mario happy if he isn't first choice," said Mancini. "He was upset. This is normal. I don't think any player who doesn't play in the Bernabeu is happy about it. But we have four top players up front. Usually we play with two and the other two are on the bench."
He added: "However, we have others who can play as second striker like Yaya Toure, David Silva and Samir Nasri.
"Three strikers on the bench would be too much so it could be that sometimes a striker goes to the stand."
Balotelli has more chance of being involved against Arsenal on Sunday because Nasri almost certainly will not be.
The France star was forced out of the Madrid game with a hamstring injury which, while not serious, is yet to heal properly. And Mancini has no doubts Balotelli could deliver against the Gunners.
"My patience for him is endless," he said, even when it came to further discussion of his striker's smoking habit.
"I haven't told him to stop," said Mancini. "I don't smoke. I don't like to smoke. If he wants to smoke that is his problem. It is his life.
"If he wants my opinion it is better that he finishes. But if he smokes 10 cigarettes a day and scores two goals in every game, it is better."
- Mario Balotelli