Carlos Tevez has made his first appearance in a Manchester City shirt since 21 September in a 3-1 defeat for the club's elite development squad against Preston North End. City were pleased with his performance and the striker, who was taken off at the break as planned, is said likewise to have been content with his comeback.
The Argentinian is targeting a return for Roberto Mancini's side at Swansea City on Saturday week. Tevez is anxious to make a competitive return for City as soon as possible and he has reintegrated with Mancini's first-team squad smoothly following his unreserved apology last week.
On his return last week Mancini said that Tevez was about two or three weeks away from fitness, a stance reiterated by his assistant David Platt following the 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers on Saturday evening. This suggests that the weekend's home meeting with Bolton Wanderers is too soon for Tevez to return for the first team but that the trip to Swansea could be a realistic possibility.
With Mancini taking a break in Italy and Platt and other senior members of the manager's coaching staff away at internationals Tevez was watched by Brian Marwood, the director of football, and his fellow club executive Patrick Vieira at City's Carrington training complex in the match against Preston.
The Argentinian, who appeared a little overweight after a more than five-month absence since a Carling Cup tie with Birmingham City at Eastlands, had one shot during his 45 minutes of action. He was then replaced by Jordi Hiwula in a game that had been specifically tailored for Tevez – it should have been staged at Chorley's Victory Park but concerns over the surface and the lack of privacy caused City to switch its date and venue. It is thought Tevez may play a second time for the EDS next Tuesday in a match with Bolton Wanderers in the Manchester Senior Cup, though this has yet to be confirmed by the club, who are monitoring the 28-year-old on a daily basis as he continues to train both with the senior squad and on his own.
Both the striker and club are conscious that only competitive play in actual match situations can allow a return to the sharpness required for the Premier League.
Tevez, who has scored 52 goals in 91 appearances for City, is not eligible to feature in the Europa League but he now offers Mancini a fourth striking option behind Sergio Agüero, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli as he attempts to guide the club to a first championship since 1968.