Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini softened his stance towards Carlos Tevez on Friday, saying he did not know whether the Argentine would play for the club again despite previously stating the striker was “finished”.
Questions relating to the former City captain, who faces disciplinary proceedings for alleged breaches of contract, were once again off limits at Mancini’s weekly news conference.
Reporters were warned not to question Mancini on Tevez but he was still asked whether he had a future at the club.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” said the Italian.
“Sorry, but I think it is better to talk about (Saturday’s Premier League opponents) Aston Villa.”
An attempt to clarify whether Tevez, who returned to training on his own this week having been suspended by the club for two weeks, was available for selection was also batted away.
Mancini had said Tevez refused to come on as a second-half substitute in the Sept. 27 Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich. Tevez responded by saying he was not asked to come on but to warm up which he did not want to do because he felt he had already warmed up sufficiently.
The club issued a statement on Wednesday saying it had reached a stage in its investigation of the events to conclude that Tevez had a case to answer of alleged breaches of contract and that there would be a hearing “shortly”.
Mancini was keen to focus on a busy week for City, who host Villa on Saturday before a vital Champions League game at home to Villarreal on Tuesday followed by a trip across town for the derby at Manchester United next weekend.
“Now I think it is important we focus on the next week, we have three important games,” he said.
Tevez’s fellow Argentina forward Sergio Aguero is doubtful for the Villa game with a groin injury but should be fit for Villarreal, while striker Mario Balotelli has recovered from a back problem and is available.
Unbeaten City are level on 19 points with United at the top of the table, although they trail their neighbours on goal difference.