Carlos Tevez thanks Man City for support after return

Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez has paid tribute to the club's players, officials and supporters for welcoming him back after his extended absence.

The 28-year-old fell out with manager Roberto Mancini after refusing to warm-up as a substitute in September, and it was five months before he returned.

"It wasn't easy coming back to training," Tevez admitted.

"I want to say thank you to my colleagues for all the support they have given me since I arrived."

Tevez struck a hat-trick against Norwich on Saturday as City maintained their challenge to Manchester United for the Premier League title.

City's emphatic victory at Carrow Road saw them narrow the gap at the top to two points, although United restored a five-point advantage by winning their game in hand against Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Sunday.

"We did well this season without Carlos for four or five months," said City boss Mancini. "But I'm sure if we had Carlos with Sergio Aguero, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko probably we would have scored more goals."

After completing his hat-trick at Carrow Road Tevez celebrated in front of the City fans by mimicking a golf swing, a reference to his period away from the club, when he was pictured playing golf in his native Argentina.

"It was an important goal, not just for me but it was important for the people, for the club and for the fans, for my colleagues, for Roberto," he added.

"We all went through some difficult times. That's why I celebrated the way I did because I have my feet on the floor and I am happy for everyone."

The former Manchester United forward also added that City could still overtake his old club and win the title for the first time since 1968.

"Of course we can still win the title," Tevez told City TV.external-link "Obviously we have to put pressure on United. We just need to continue to play the way we are and we will arrive at the top. Mathematically it's not impossible."

Mancini insisted after the game that the title race was still "finished", as he has done all week, although in another interview he said he hoped his stance would inspire his players to prove him wrong.

And Mancini said he was surprised that Tevez made such an impact against Norwich, having also scored in the 4-0 win against West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday.

"He's improved a lot in the last two weeks," the Italian manager told BBC Sport.

"Today I was so worried after 48 hours [between games]. Instead, it's strange, he can play two games in two days like this and today he was fantastic. All the team was - if not, it's not possible to win 6-1."

But Mancini insisted he did not regret the stance he had taken over Tevez earlier in the season.

"I always did my best," he said. "In the season you can do some mistakes but for normal men that can happen.

"I'm happy for the fans because we are here for them, for the club, for the owner. We are here for those people."