Mario Balotelli: Carlos Tevez should be forgiven by fans

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has told the club's fans not to target Carlos Tevez with any abuse when the Argentinian forward returns to action.

Tevez has not played for City since boss Roberto Mancini accused him of refusing to warm up at Bayern Munich in September - but he has now apologised.

Balotelli said: "I think supporters have to be like they were before.

"If they make pressure on Carlos, they make pressure to all the team, so they should do nothing."

Tevez, 28, had become a firm favourite with the City faithful after helping the club win the FA Cup last season following a switch from rivals Manchester United.

But that soured with his apparent refusal to come off the bench at the Allianz Arena in Germany - and he then returned to his native Argentina without the club's permission.

Following a five-month stand-off, Tevez returned to the club in February and has reconciled his differences after apologising for his conduct.

He returned to action in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Preston, then scored on his first public appearance for the reserves against Bolton.

Balotelli, speaking to former Oasis man Noel Gallagher for the BBC's Football Focus, said supporters should forgive him.

The 21-year-old said: "I think everyone can make a mistake. Carlos is part of the team. He's just a part of the team, so everybody loves him."

Manager Robert Mancini says he has already forgiven Tevez and is looking forward to the striker's return to first-team football.

Watch the full interview on Saturday's Football Focus at 1215 GMT on BBC One and on this website.

You can also find out more about meeting Mario Balotelli by reading Dan Walker's behind-the-scenes blog.

Listen again to BBC Radio 5 live Sport's special on Mario Balotelli by downloading the podcast.