ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) – Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has dismissed Carlos Tevez's claim that he treated the Argentinian "like a dog."
The striker made the remark in a television interview in his homeland earlier this week when discussing events on the bench during the infamous Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich in September.
Tevez was accused of refusing to warm up that night and Mancini later said the 28-year-old was "finished" at City as a result.
Tevez returned to Manchester on Tuesday in the hope of resuming his career after spending more than three months back in Argentina without the club's permission.
Mancini was asked about the situation on Wednesday night as he gave a press conference in Portugal to preview Thursday's Europa League tie at Porto.
The Italian said: "I don't want to answer your question because the game is more important than this.
"But I answer only this question and then after, no more, because we have this game. It is an important game against a top club like Porto.
"I totally disagree with Carlos, what he said, because I have never treated him badly. Maybe it is the opposite, I treated him too well, always."
Mancini then broke away slightly as he continued his answer, but made clear he does not want the continuing Tevez saga to affect his team's push for the Barclays Premier League title.
He said: "And I never said to him, like...finished. This is the last question I answer in the next three months. I don't want to talk anymore."
Tevez underwent a medical after reporting back to City's training ground on Tuesday night.
He was given his own fitness plan and did not train with the first-team squad prior to their departure for Portugal on Wednesday morning.
Instead he trained later in the day and was pictured on Sky Sports News jogging before signing autographs for fans as he left.
It still remains to be seen how quickly - if at all - Mancini reintegrates Tevez into his squad.
Mancini has long maintained the former Manchester United and West Ham player must apologise for the events of the past four-and-a-half months before he will consider that possibility.
Another matter still outstanding is that of Tevez's appeal against a fine of six weeks' wages - believed to be around £1.2million - imposed by City during his absence.
Tevez has already failed in one appeal to the club but has lodged another with the Premier League.
For the moment it seems Mancini wants to concentrate on other matters, beginning with Thursday's game.
One issue Mancini must consider is the return of the enigmatic Mario Balotelli, who has now completed a four-match domestic suspension for an apparent stamp on Tottenham's Scott Parker.
With the maverick striker having also served another one-match domestic suspension this season, as well as a three-game European one, Mancini is keen for him to settle down for the run-in.
City are two points clear at the top of the Premier League with 13 games remaining, in sight of their first title since 1968.
Mancini said: "I have spoken to Mario, two weeks ago. I said, 'Please, we have 13 games to play and the Europa League too - try to have good behaviour on the pitch and think only of playing football.
"I think if his head is okay in the next two months, he will be an important player.
"It's difficult to find a good definition for him. We know that Mario is a fantastic player. He's young, sometimes he will do some mistakes but, for this reason, if he can keep his composure for the next months, he will be an important player for us, in the Europa League and the Premier League."
Mancini can also welcome back inspirational midfielder Yaya Toure after an absence of eight games due to the African Nations Cup.
Toure and his brother Kolo met up with the squad in Oporto on Thursday night but Mancini will need to assess them before deciding if they can play.
City, who have dropped into the Europa League after being knocked out of the Champions League in December, face a Porto team boasting a formidable record.
The Portuguese champions and last season's Europa League winners - also coming in from the Champions League - have lost just once in their domestic competition this season.
Mancini said: "I think this is one of the big games at this stage because we play Porto, a top team who have played Champions League.
"I have met Porto many times in the Europa League or Champions League and it is very difficult to play here.
"At home they are very strong, last year they won the title. It will be very hard for this reason but I think it will be a very good game."