Agent claims Balotelli victimised

Should hints coming out of the club that they will not contest a Football Association charge for violent conduct prove correct, the maverick Italian striker will begin a four-match suspension on Wednesday night.

First-team coach David Platt said: "The likelihood is we will be without Mario for the next four games. When he is available again we will utilise him to help achieve what we want to achieve this season."

The charge, relating to his clash with Scott Parker in Sunday's Barclays Premier League defeat of Tottenham, led to suggestions from agent Mino Raiola that the player feels victimised. Raiola has also strongly criticised referee Howard Webb over the incident.

Balotelli, 21, has been at the centre of a number of controversies since his ?24million arrival from Inter Milan in August 2010 and Raiola has claimed his reputation could be counting against him.

Raiola, in one of series of interviews on Tuesday, told Sky Sports News: "Mario feels very uncomfortable. He is really disappointed and thinks it's unjust.

"He feels he is being judged more harshly than the rest by the referees. It's clear whatever he does... maybe other people get away with it."

Raiola said his client, who has also been sent off three times in his City career, does not want to leave the club but could be driven to do so.

He said: "He would love to stay in the Premier League for a long time and won't move this transfer window, for sure. It's not our intention, let that be clear.

"It's fantastic, he loves it and feels at home. But if every week some referee [does this] with Mario, maybe you say, 'That's enough' and he goes to another country."

Source: PA

Source: PA