Man City Continue European Adventure against Aris
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Man City Continue European Adventure against Aris

Manchester City's Joleon Lescott

 

Roberto Mancini will welcome back striker Mario Balotelli from injury for Tuesday’s last 32 Europa League 1st leg tie against Aris Thessaloniki.

The Italian goalscorer has been missing with a knee injury since late-December, but may well feature in a squad that also includes star-forward Carlos Tevez, and long-term absentee Michael Johnson.

The 22-year-old English midfielder has only registered 45 appearances for the Citizens since 2006 – after a promising season back in 2007/08 his career has been halted by two serious abdominal injuries, followed by a knee injury that kept him out for over a year.

Johnson will likely start on the bench, but may be called on in the 2nd half as both James Milner and Nigel de Jong are unavailable through knocks.

Defender Joleon Lescott offered a sound warning to his teammates not to make any telling errors, in a competition that the Citizens are treating equally as important as their Premier League challenge.

“We’ve got to be positive,” Lescott stated to the club website. “We have to limit their chances, make few mistakes early on because that always encourages the crowd to be more vocal and get on your back.”

“If we can limit them, it should make the game easier as it goes on. I tend to relish these occasions though, it’s why you become a footballer, to play in European competitions.”

Mancini’s men will travel to a Greek ground that is being hailed as a “European fortress”, having never seen a travelling side defeat the home team in 40 years of UEFA competitions.

Aris parted ways with their former manager last month – Argentinian Héctor Cúper decided to walk away after a poor run of results, leaving caretaker manager and former Aris player Ioannis Michalitsios in charge of first-team affairs.

They finished 2nd in Group B of the Europa League with ten points, picking up a shock 1-0 win over last year’s winners Atletico Madrid along the way; a result that ultimately knocked the Spanish club out of the competition.

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