Roberto Mancini said he was disappointed with Vincent Kompany after the Manchester City captain decided, against his manager's express wishes, to play for Belgium in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Macedonia.
Kompany had not played competitive football since injuring a calf in an FA Cup tie at Stoke City on 26 January. This was the third injury to the muscle in less than a year and City were intent on ensuring Kompany had recovered properly and wanted as long a break as possible before he next played.
Mancini said he had attempted to persuade the defender not to go. "I am disappointed. I said to him: 'Stay here to have more treatment but don't go to play because it would be taking a risk for us because these next two months are really important'."
Kompany said his reason for joining up with Belgium was because Marc Wilmots had selected him. Mancini responded: "OK, it is correct he can go there to do [a test] with their medical [people] but after that he should come back. I hoped he would come back after one day, two days. It was important that Vinny should work here and prepare very well for the next game, the next two months here, because he hasn't played for us for 60 days."
Mancini had spoken to Wilmots about Kompany's injury but believes the onus was on the defender to make himself unavailable: "Sometimes the player should understand that the club is more important. I don't say that international football is not important because I never say to my players: 'Don't go to the national team.' But there are some cases that the club is more important and all players should understand this."
"Sometimes you say the right things because the responsibility is also the player's," Mancini said. "The player should understand this. The manager sometimes probably doesn't understand the real situation. I tried to talk to the Belgium manager also three months ago when Vinny was injured. But probably he didn't understand very well. I don't want that he doesn't go in the national team but when he is injured it is impossible. It is not correct because for 60 days he didn't play for us, we did everything and he went to play with the national team." Belgium beat Macedonia 1-0 and are joint top of World Cup Group A alongside Croatia.
While it is understood that Kompany came through training on Thursday with no apparent reaction, Mancini will monitor his progress before Newcastle United's visit on Saturday.
"If he had another injury or if on Saturday he is not ready to play because he played for the national team, and I lost him for another month, for me this is not correct – for the players, for the manager," he said.
"A calf is a difficult injury. So we don't know if he is OK or not. We don't know this because he played for 90 minutes." Mancini said he will discuss Kompany's decision with him. "I talk with him but I can't put him in the jail for two weeks."
Regarding Wilmots' part in Kompany's selection, Mancini added: "Sometimes managers of national teams should understand the situation. These players play for their clubs and every month the clubs pay their salary. The week before the international break he was not fit to play for us."
Mancini's decision to be publicly critical of Kompany follows previous declarations of disquiet about other members of his squad this season. The targets of the manager included Samir Nasri, Joe Hart and Micah Richards.
With City 15 points behind Manchester United, Mancini was prepared for the first time to concede his side could not retain the title. "The title race is over but that changes nothing as we should do our best from now until the end of the season," the Italian said before explaining why he did not speak to the media after the 2-0 defeat at Everton in City's previous game. "I was really unhappy and I didn't want to say bad things.
"It's now in the past but I was disappointed with our performance and with the referee's performance. That is why I didn't want to talk."
Sergio Agüero is available again following a knee injury and Mancini dismissed the claims of Yaya Touré's agent that he could leave at the end of the season. "He will stay here for a long time," he said.