The Carlos Tevez saga took another twist on Friday when Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini said the outcast striker could yet play a part in the club's pursuit of the Premier League title.
Mancini, who has gone from saying the player was "finished" to suggesting a return was possible if he apologized for his actions to dismissing as "impossible" the chance of him ever appearing for the club again, softened his stance once again.
"If Carlos is here and he is fit maybe it is possible," the Italian said when asked if Tevez, who has not played since refusing to warm up in a match in September and who has returned home to Argentina without permission, could return to action.
"I hope for him that maybe in the last three months he did training for his condition."
The 27-year-old Argentine had been widely expected to leave the club in the January transfer window but despite interest from AC Milan, Inter Milan and Paris St Germain he was not sold.
He has been fined six weeks' wages for gross misconduct over his disappearance to Argentina, a punishment he is appealing against to the Premier League, and has also not been paid while he has been absent.
Mancini, who has faced questions from reporters nearly every week over his Tevez headache, has been determined not to get distracted and is focused on one goal only.
"In my mind now I have only one situation - the Premier League (title)," said the Italian, whose side are top of the table on goal difference from champions Manchester United.
"I have this situation, other situations are not important."
City host Fulham in the league on Saturday seeking to make up for a poor showing midweek in the 1-0 defeat at Everton that enabled their city neighbours to catch up with them on 54 points from 23 games.
Mancini, who blamed himself for the defeat at Goodison Park saying he had made mistakes tactically and in the preparation for the game, denied there was any extra pressure on his men after seeing their lead cut.
"January was a very hard month but it is still important that we are on the top," he said referring to a month where City lost four matches, including two in the league.
"We don't have any reason to have pressure because we never thought that we can win this title in January or February ... the end of April maybe, after the (Manchester) derby.
"It is impossible to stay on the top for five months and not have any problem.
"We have scored 60 goals, we have the best defence in the Premier League - this says we did very well. It's important to go our way, to not think of other teams. This championship depends only on us, not on others."