Mario Balotelli has a future at Manchester City but he must work harder, manager Roberto Mancini said on Saturday after dropping the Italian for the Premier League champions' 3-1 win at Newcastle United.
"Yes. Why not? He needs to work and if he deserves to play because he worked well then he will do, but if not he will be in the stands or on the bench like all of the other players," Mancini told BBC television.
"He needs to train and when he starts to play like his quality he will play again. We won the championship last year because all four of the strikers were scoring goals and we want that again."
Balotelli was hauled off just after half-time in last weekend's 3-2 defeat to leaders Manchester United, with the striker making a moody departure down the tunnel after a misfiring afternoon.
The 22-year-old has scored just once this season in the Premier League and was not even on the bench at St James' Park on Saturday.
Mancini, who had his bust-ups with Balotelli but has generally been a staunch defender of the player he signed in 2010, told reporters after last weekend's derby that his compatriot need to think more about what he was doing.
"He can't continue to play like today, we wanted more from him," he said then. "When you have a player with the quality that Mario has, you can't understand that (he) continues to throw (it) out of the window."