MANCHESTER, United Kingdom: Yaya Toure says Carlos Tevez wants to say sorry to Manchester City fans for his behaviour earlier in the season by helping the club secure the title.
Manager Roberto Mancini is considering handing Tevez his first league start for almost seven months when Sunderland visit Eastlands on Saturday.
Having spent most of the season at the top of the table, City trail leaders Manchester United by three points with eight games remaining, and have had a week to forget.
After being held to a 1-1 draw by Stoke last Saturday, United piled on the pressure by defeating Fulham on Monday before Mancini was pictured giving controversial striker Mario Balotelli a dressing down in training on Wednesday.
Yet Mancini is now set to turn to another unpredictable member of his squad to ensure City's title race does not fade in the closing stages.
Tevez has made two substitute appearances totalling 40 minutes since returning to the side earlier in the month following his infamous touchline row with Mancini during a Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich in Germany in September.
But the Argentina striker may start against Sunderland after scoring in a 71 minute run-out for the reserves at Morecambe on Wednesday.
The former Manchester United player, who has not started a league game since September, capped an energetic display by finding the net with an ambitious chip from the edge of the box.
Toure says Tevez is desperate to make amends for his behaviour earlier in the season by ensuring City pip his former club to the title. “Carlos is our player - everyone can make mistakes, but he is really a good man,” said Ivory Coast international Toure.
“When you meet him, he is always good fun and a nice guy, even if people may have a different image of him.”
“It was unbelievable when Carlos came back and the fans gave him big applause, and tried to support him when he got the ball.”
“He knew when he came back to the club that he had made a very big mistake, but now everything is over and he is focused on winning the Premier League.”
“He wants to help the team, and the club, and do as much as possible to say sorry to the fans.”
“I think he will be an important player for us, as he wants to prove to everyone he is a top player. I am sure he will be fantastic for the rest of the season.”
“In my first year here he was my captain, and was always focused, always wanting to win - he was unbelievable.”
“When people love you, you want to give them something back. The fans come to enjoy football and see our best players, like Carlos, and we have to deliver.”Sunderland hope to take their out their FA Cup frustration on City as they look to bounce back from the bitterly disappointing sixth round replay loss at home to Everton.
The Wearside club slumped to a 2-0 defeat to miss out on their first semi-final in eight years, and skipper Lee Cattermole is adamant they can help atone for that by matching their best-ever Premier League finish - back-to-back seventh-places in 2000 and 2001.
City haven't dropped points in front of their own fans for 13 months since a 1-1 draw with Fulham, with 20 consecutive victories since then. But Mancini's men slid to a 1-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light in January, and Cattermole said: “We beat them at our place and played out of our skin, so if we can go there and be the first team to get something off them for the first time in ages it'd be brilliant.”Sunderland sit eighth after a remarkable turn-around in fortunes under manager Martin O'Neill, who took charge before Christmas with the Wearsiders in the bottom three.
Cattermole added: “Going to Wembley would have been great, but you never know, we might have taken our eye off the league had that happened.
“We can focus on that now. When Martin took over if you'd have given us eighth place at this stage, we'd have grabbed it.”Defenders John O'Shea (hamstring) and Kieran Richardson (calf) remain doubts.