Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini - Mario Balotelli likely to miss Norwich City clash

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has threatened to ditch one – or even both – of his strikers unless they start scoring soon. Carlos Tevez, Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko have managed just three goals between them in the last eight City games, and Mancini said he will consider dropping to a solo striker, or even doing a Barcelona and play with no strikers at all.

Balotelli is, officially, out through illness after missing the Reading and Sunderland games.

'Mario was ill – for nine days he has been ill. I don't think he will be fit for Norwich. He has trained only one time, three days ago,' said Mancini.

Forward Samir Nasri has been out with a hamstring injury, while right-back Micah Richards (knee) and midfielder Jack Rodwell (hamstring) remain on the long-term casualty list.

But Mancini's team have good memories of Carrow Road after winning 6-1 against the Canaries in April en route to the title, having won 5-1 in last season's first meeting at the Etihad Stadium. The Blues have been beaten only five times at Norwich in their entire history, the last of those defeats in 2001.

Mancini insisted he was not concerned after seeing arch-rivals Manchester United extend their lead over the Premier League champions to seven points in the Boxing Day fixtures.

The Blues' defeat at Sunderland for the third successive season, coupled with United's battling 4-3 home victory over Newcastle, saw Sir Alex Ferguson's men reach the halfway stage of the season with a commanding lead, but one the Italian is confident is far from decisive as his players prepare to take on the Canaries tomorrow.

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He said after his team's 1-0 reverse: 'It hasn't changed. At this moment, United are better than us, they are at the top, but we have time to recover.

'We need to resolve our problems before and after, maybe we can win. It's no problem, seven points.

'That's not important. We know United are a fantastic team and probably they will win every game, but the season is long and it is not important if it is six or seven or four points.'

The most pressing problem Mancini has to resolve, in his view, is their propensity to be 'too soft' in attacking positions.

They did pass up a series of opportunities at the Stadium of Light – skipper Vincent Kompany hit the bar with an early header and Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero were all denied by the excellent Simon Mignolet.

Ultimately, it was City old boy Adam Johnson, who left The Etihad for Wearside in a �10million summer switch, who proved the difference between the sides when his 53rd-minute shot squirmed underneath the flat-footed Joe Hart.