Petulant Balotelli is urged to learn from his mistake

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Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong fears Mario Balotelli will become a marked man because of his petulant behaviour.

Balotelli, 20, was red carded on Thursday night, his second dismissal of his debut season after arriving from Inter Milan in the summer.

The Italian striker was banished to the dressing room in the 36th minute by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir for a studs-up challenge on Dynamo Kiev defender Goran Popov.

Although Aleksandar Kolarov scored three minutes later City went down 2-1 on aggregate to exit the Europa League at the last 16 stage.

Manager Robert Mancini was incensed by Balotelli’s action, talking of the player’s ‘stupidity’, and de Jong is concerned that some opponents will target his team-mate.

De Jong said: “Mario has got to realise he has to change how he plays because he is always going to be a marked man.

“He knows that. We have to continue with him as well. He has a lot of potential, the skill he shows at times is unbelievable.

“He is a talented boy and maybe you do not intend to let your team down with those sort of things. But I told him as well you have got to learn from your mistakes.

“We are there to help him, not to criticise him or blast him away. He has experienced guys around him and has to listen to them.

“After the game he was angry and he was disappointed. Sometimes you make mistakes and Mario made his mistake. But he will get everything straight again.”

Mancini is threatening to drop Balotelli tomorrow when City face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

The City boss has a dilemma as former Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko is taking time to settle and Carlos Tevez’s goals have dried up, although no one can question the club captain’s work-rate.

Mancini said: “Am I disappointed with Balotelli? Yes. Have I spoken with him? No.

“I didn’t see the ball so I don’t know if it was a red or yellow card. But you need to pay attention (to what you are doing).”

Former Middlesbrough winger Adam Johnson made a quicker than expected return from an ankle injury to feature against Kiev but is likely to remain on the bench for tomorrow’s game at Stamford Bridge