Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli faces a fine if reports he broke a club curfew are true, manager Roberto Mancini tonight said.
Balotelli allegedly went on a night out in Liverpool which lasted until the early hours of yesterday morning despite having a game against Bolton this afternoon.
That would be a breach of Mancini’s rules and the City boss has said he will investigate.
Mancini, speaking after Balotelli started and scored in City’s 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium today, said: “This is Mario, I don’t know whether this is true. I only heard about this at the stadium because I never read the newspaper.
“Tomorrow I will speak with him – I am really disappointed about this. It is not correct, not only for me and the squad but for him, because he is a professional player. He can’t stay outside the house two days before a game until two o’clock.
“If it is true we will do the maximum fine that we can.”
If true, the matter would merely be the latest in a long line of on- and off-field controversies concerning Balotelli.
The 21-year-old has already found himself in trouble for breaking a curfew once this season having been spotted in a Manchester restaurant late at night less than 48 hours before the December loss at Chelsea.
Most infamously this season fire crews were called to his house after fireworks set off from his bathroom sparked a blaze.
He looked determined not to let the latest headlines distract him as he caused Bolton considerable problems this afternoon.
Yet he spurned a glut of chances before eventually finding the net in the 69th minute to secure a victory that put City five points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
Mancini said: “Mario played well, he had a lot of chances. Maybe next time if he goes to sleep early he can score three or four goals.”
Balotelli might have had a hat-trick in the first 13 minutes after hitting the post, shooting narrowly wide and then firing over.
It eventually required a Gretar Steinsson own goal in the 23rd minute to put City on the way to a competition record-equalling 19th successive home win.
Mancini said: “If you miss certain chances in these games, you can have a problem.
“We missed five chances in 10 minutes – after 10 minutes we should have finished the game. But in the end it is important we won.”
City’s win puts the pressure back on second-placed rivals Manchester United ahead of their clash with Tottenham tomorrow but Mancini is not expecting any slip-ups from them.
He said: “I think United will win because they are a strong. If we want to win this championship we will need to win our next 10 games.”
The result leaves relegation-threatened Bolton 19th in the table but manager Owen Coyle felt his side – who went close through David Ngog and Ryo Miyaichi when only 1-0 down – acquitted themselves well and remains optimistic.
Coyle said: “In terms of tough games in the Barclays Premier League they don’t come any tougher than coming to Manchester City.
“But the pleasing thing for me was we were prepared to come and try to stand toe to toe with them. We created chances.
“It would be easy to feel sorry for ourselves but we will pick ourselves up again. Everyone wrote us off but we more than competed. At 1-0 we were well in the game.
“We have had a tough run of fixtures – tougher than the other teams around us. We have to take the positives from today and use them to capitalise on the games in front of us.”