Carlos Tevez has exceeded Roberto Mancini's expectations in recent weeks but the Manchester City boss does not want the striker to ease up now.

A revitalised Tevez has helped fire City back into contention for the Barclays Premier League title after returning to the starting line-up for the last three games. City have won each of those games, with Tevez scoring four in the process, to cut Manchester United's lead at the top of the table to three points ahead of Monday's eagerly-anticipated derby.

The six months Tevez spent out during his dispute with the club may not have been forgotten but Mancini is concerned now only with getting the best out of the Argentinian, and said: "Carlos is not 100%, because it is impossible for him to be 100% after six months without playing. But he has experience, he is a clever player. He has scored four or five goals and this is important."

When asked if he felt Tevez had played better than expected since his return, Mancini said: "Probably, yes - but I hope in the next three games he continues to do this.

"It is difficult after six months without football to play at this level."

During his stand-off with City, Tevez spent more than three months on unauthorised leave in Argentina but Mancini does not wonder what might have been had he been available during that time.

It has been suggested that with their top scorer for the past two seasons in harness, City, who led the table for much of the season, might have won the title by now.

Mancini said: "No, I don't think (about) this.

"It was a strange situation six months ago and I said to Carlo, a lot of times, apologise and it would be finished. Carlos didn't want to do this, he wanted to leave the club in December.

"But if we are here it is also because the other players were playing very well. (Sergio) Aguero scored a lot of goals, (Edin) Dzeko the same, (Mario) Balotelli, all the team played well. If not, it is impossible we would be here at this moment."

Source: PA