Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has admitted he probably should not have allowed Emmanuel Adebayor to join Tottenham on loan this season.

32849 - Mancini admits to Adebayor mistake

Adebayor has been a strong performer for the north London club to date, scoring nine goals in the Premier League to lift Spurs into title contention alongside City and their arch-rivals Manchester United.

While Mancini was initially happy to let the Togolese striker depart on a temporary basis in the summer, he has now admitted he would not have let Adebayor leave the Etihad Stadium if he had known Carlos Tevez would go on to fall out with the club, depriving Mancini of a fourth striker alongside Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli.

"Probably, probably - but we didn't know with Carlos what would happen in Munich," Mancini said, when asked if he should have kept Adebayor. "We had four strikers. I think with four strikers you can play one year.

"I am happy for Manu because he is playing very well for Tottenham."

There is no agreed fee between the two clubs for Adebayor, meaning he will return to City upon the end of his loan in the summer unless they come to some arrangement. While Mancini did not rule out welcoming the former Arsenal striker back into his squad, he admitted that he will find it difficult to give Adebayor the regular first-team action he seems to crave.

"I don't know [about Adebayor's future] in this moment," he said. "I said I am happy because I watched a lot of games and he has played very well, scored a lot of goals.

"Sometimes it is possible that you have a situation like this - you have good players but he wants to play always. This is difficult in a top team.

"When you have three or four strong strikers you need to change. If you have one striker who needs to play always it is not easy."

City face Tottenham on Sunday, although the terms of Adebayor's loan mean he is ineligible to play against his parent club. A win for City will put them eight points clear of Spurs, but Mancini believes Harry Redknapp's side has the quality required to win the title.

"I think in this moment there are three clubs - City, [Manchester] United and Tottenham who can win the title," he said. "After that, maybe Chelsea because things can change in the next four or five games. But I think to recover 10, 11 points on three teams is difficult.

"We played [Spurs] five months ago. It was totally different, it was their second match. When you start the season anything can happen because maybe all the squad are not ready to play 100%. You maybe need four, five or six games to be confident.

"Now it is different and I think Tottenham are one of the best teams. They have 20-22 international players, and they are not all young players. For me they can win the title.

"It is better to lose one time 5-1 than five times 1-0. You can take one bad day when you concede three, four or five goals - it can happen. It happened to United, to Arsenal."