CITY STARS GLAD TO HAVE TEVEZ BACK
Midfielder David Silva and defender Joleon Lescott have welcomed Carlos Tevez's return to Manchester City and backed the Argentinian to play a key role in the title race.
Silva met Tevez at the training ground on Thursday morning as the process of reintegrating the striker into the Barclays Premier League leaders' first-team squad began.
Manager Roberto Mancini said on Wednesday Tevez could be back playing in two or three weeks after accepting an apology from the 28-year-old for his recent conduct.
Tevez's immediate task is now to recover match-fitness after returning from his unauthorised three-month break in Argentina.
Silva said on Thursday: "I just saw him this morning for the first time at training.
"I just wished him all the very best before he left. He was a very important player for us. If he is back with us, then perfect.
"Carlos is a great player and if he is physically fit he would be a very good player to have.
"But it will be down to the coaches and the technical team to decide who plays and who doesn't."
Tevez has not played for City since refusing to warm up during the infamous Champions League loss to Bayern Munich in September.
He reported back to the club last week after failing to secure a move in the January transfer window.
He was given his own fitness programme but his apology earlier this week has opened up a route back into training with the first team.
Tevez has been the club's top scorer in each of the past two seasons and has struck 52 times in 91 games since his arrival from Manchester United.
He was also the inspirational captain behind last year's FA Cup success - City's first trophy win in 35 years - and increases striking options that already include Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli.
Silva expects him to fit straight back in.
The 26-year-old said: "Carlos has shown before he has great character and determination and for someone like him it would be easier to get into form than for others.
"It is very important to have those four great strikers with us.
"It makes it easier for the people playing behind them.
"We all know they are great players and it could be an important factor to help us win the title race."
Aguero was the chief inspiration as City powered into the last 16 of the Europa League at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night, thrashing Porto 4-0 to complete a 6-1 aggregate success.
Tevez's fellow Argentinian struck after just 18 seconds and then hit the bar later in the first half.
He set up the second goal for Edin Dzeko 14 minutes from time and then made way for David Pizarro, who created a third for Silva and struck himself after Porto saw Rolando sent off.
Silva said: "The tie was in our favour at the start of the match, but it was obvious we would have to sit back and counter-attack, wait for them. We did and we did it well.
"Aguero is a great player. There is not much more you can say about him. He is just fantastic."
Lescott is also adamant that having Tevez around will not be a problem.
"No-one here sees Carlos as a disruption," said Lescott, following Wednesday night's impressive 4-0 win over Porto.
"If we can all get together and push in the same direction I am sure it's a positive for the club.
"With us, Carlos has never been an issue, and we are confident that if he does get his chance, he will score a lot of goals."
Throughout the striker's stand-off with Mancini, Blues supporters have taken the manager's side and many would not be bothered if the Argentina star never pulled on that famous blue shirt again.
It appears he will be given a second chance though. And Lescott has urged City fans to get behind the striker.
"It would be a bit harsh," he said.
"You need to appreciate what Carlos has done for the club over the last two years.
"Obviously Carlos hasn't been here for the last few months but that's an issue the club have dealt with.
"We feel that everyone involved has dealt with it correctly and the players have got on with the job in hand.
"We are still performing in the Premier League and I don't see how it will affect us in the final run-in."
As one of the few members of the City squad to have direct experience of a successful Premier League title campaign, a legacy of his time at Old Trafford, Tevez's know-how could be vital in the final few weeks.
Even prior to this point, with City already breaking through the 60-point barrier, Lescott admits there have been occasions when the former West Ham man's famed tenacity and eye for a goal would have come in very handy,
"There have been moments when we could have done with him - he is a quality player, so even when we were winning no-one wrote him off and thought 'We don't need him any more,"' he said.
"More often than not we have won games this season, so it is no judgment on the manager's team selection.
"Now he is back and involved I am sure there will be a lot more fear in opposition teams.
"We haven't seen him much - we were off for the weekend as we didn't have a game and then preparing for the Porto game - and he has been doing fitness work to get him up to speed.
"But when I spoke to him at the weekend he did say he was raring to go and looking forward to getting involved."
Latest Football News at 08:00 GMT