Platt dampens Balotelli Milan link

Manchester City have continued to play down speculation that Mario Balotelli could leave the club for AC Milan.

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Mario Balotelli: Fresh links with AC Mil

Mario Balotelli: Fresh links with AC Mil

Manchester City have again insisted Mario Balotelli is still their player despite yet more rumours linking the striker with AC Milan.

City have repeatedly denied the 22-year-old is poised to leave the Etihad Stadium throughout the January transfer window.

Yet that has not stopped the speculation concerning the Italian, which has regularly been fuelled by senior figures at the San Siro.

The latest stories have suggested discussions between the clubs over a possible move before Thursday's deadline have begun and that the controversial Balotelli has already held a leaving party.

But City manager Roberto Mancini has been highly dismissive of all the speculation and his assistant David Platt expressed a similar attitude as he met the media to preview the midweek trip to QPR.

Platt said: "I saw that speculation yesterday but I've not heard anything.

"It's a shame Robbie's not here. He might know more than me but as far as we are concerned I think he is still a Manchester City player.

"I don't think there is anything is going to happen."

When asked if he was aware of any negotiations between clubs or the player, Platt said: "I'm not.

"I can only go off what you know and I have seen. I know exactly the same as you, which is speculation."

Platt was also unsure whether City would be making any moves into the transfer market this week.

City do have defensive problems with captain Vincent Kompany injured and Kolo Toure at the African Nations Cup but that is only a short-term issue.

Platt said: "Fortunately we'll have a press conference on Friday and we won't have to talk about speculation - and that is what it is. I literally don't know anything.

"We have said before the market in January is very difficult. Even if you are planning to get somebody in it is very difficult to do so.

"With it being such a difficult market, you can't start stepping into it willy-nilly.

"We are at Manchester City - a top club that competes for top trophies.

"As a result of that you can't just go out and get anybody and think they are going to fill the gap that somebody leaves.

"That gap Vinny has left could be a fortnight, it could be three weeks.

"It is not a six-month gap, something ridiculous we feel we can't do with the squad we have available."

Kompany limped off in the first half of Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round tie at Stoke

after suffering a calf strain, a problem that has blighted the 26-year-old in the past.

He has definitely been ruled out of the Barclays Premier League game at Loftus Road and is also doubtful for Sunday's home clash with Liverpool.

Platt said: "My experience of calf strains would be no chance for tomorrow, Liverpool a big doubt with an outside chance, but that would depend on the gravity of it.

"In all honesty you're probably looking at the game after that being a potential realistic target."

City's choices at centre-back could be further limited if Matija Nastasic, who missed the game at Stoke, does not overcome a minor knee problem.

Teenager Karim Rekik, who was an unused substitute at the weekend, is a potential option to play alongside Joleon Lescott while midfielders Javi Garcia and Jack Rodwell could be used as stop-gap measures. Alternatively, City could again deploy a three-man back line.

With leaders Manchester United not in action until Wednesday, the game offers City the chance to put their rivals under more pressure by cutting their lead at the top to two points.

City will travel as firm favourites with QPR five points adrift of safety at the foot of the table but Platt expects Harry Redknapp's men to respond after their shock FA loss to MK Dons.

He said: "They have started to amass points.

"Harry is not stupid, he knows a point here and there with the others losing around you gives you something to hold on to.

"It is a difficult game - always is, more so under the lights, tight ground.

"The team is likely to be completely different from the cup game but I am sure they will want to bounce back."

City have won their last six matches in all competitions and remain confident of overhauling United.

Platt said: "It was seven (points), is five - who knows after this round of results what it is going to be?

"Every week it is going to be like that. We'll be trying to win, they'll be trying to win.

"We can only look after ourselves. We know we are playing well, we know we have still got to win games and are still playing catch-up. We have just got to concentrate on doing that."

Balotelli, despite the conjecture, is available to play after recovering from a virus, as is Samir Nasri.


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