Tevez takes first steps towards City redemption
CARLOS Tevez has begun the first stage of his rehabilitation at Manchester City as he seeks to prove he is fit enough to play for the club.
The Argentine striker met doctors and underwent a series of tests to establish what shape he was in during a 75-minute stay at City's training ground yesterday.
But the most decisive meeting may have taken place this morning, when Tevez was expected to come face to face with manager Roberto Mancini for the first time since going absent without leave in November.
Clearly out of condition, Tevez must convince the Italian he can contribute to the remainder of City's title challenge, and play his part in repairing the significant psychological damage inflicted on their strained relationship.
To play for City again, Tevez must apologise directly to his manager for the controversies which have wrecked his season and led to disciplinary measures.
Last night, however, there was every indication he was prepared to do whatever it would take to play a part in the club's title run-in.
Kia Joorabchian, Tevez's adviser, claimed he would apologise to Mancini.
"From a football point of view, Carlos can only be an asset," Joorabchian said. "He is ready to apologise."
Mancini has never hidden his anger at his ex-captain's challenges to his authority.
Earlier this season, he said Tevez was "finished" at City. But Mancini is a pragmatist who will find a use for the player if circumstances permit.
City officials last night stressed Tevez's return was not the consequence of an 'olive branch', or because the manager needs to increase his attacking options. Instead, they claimed the player was finally meeting the contractual obligations he has been reminded of every week for the past three months.
City will be glad to have him back if he is able to play, but there is still a long way to go before that happens. The 28-year-old has at least been buoyed by the reception he has received from team-mates, who appear anxious for him to rebuild his reputation at the club.
Joleon Lescott wrote on his Twitter account: "All I can say is that all the players are excited to have Carlos, Kolo and Yaya Toure back to help achieve our goal. Who wouldn't want to have these players in their squad?"
It is understood a large proportion of City players have made it known there will be no tension in the dressing room should Tevez be included in future squads.
That will come as a relief to the South American, who knows the City fans have turned against him, and was initially unsure of the kind of reception he would get from the squad. He did not meet any of his team-mates or the coaching staff yesterday.
Mancini will analyse the results of the tests Tevez took last night before determining if, or when, he might be available to play.
The want-away striker has not pulled on a City shirt since September, having been ostracised since being accused of refusing to warm up in the Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich on September 27.
After being suspended and fined, he later flew home to Argentina without permission.
His hopes of leaving were frustrated when the club was unable to agree a transfer window deal in January with AC Milan, Inter or Paris St Germain.
Although bridges need to be built, redemption may be found if Tevez can help City beat rivals Manchester United to the Premier League title.