Mario Balotelli may have turned on a sober page but it could appear to be too little too late.
Mario Balotelli has apologised for his sending off in Manchester City's 1-0 defeat at Arsenal at the weekend, expressing fears that it could mean he misses the European Championships.
The controversial 21-year-old was dismissed for two yellow cards after a pair of ugly challenges in the Premier League encounter that saw his side drop to eight points behind bitter rivals Manchester United in the title race.
His club coach Roberto Mancini then came out and said the Italian of Ghanaian origin would play no further part in the Premier League run-in and would "probably" be sold in the summer.
Worse was to follow, though, as Italy coach Cesare Prandelli then claimed he would consider dropping the former Inter Milan forward from his squad.
If Balotelli is not part of the Italy squad for the brief international get-together later this month, or Italy's friendlies against Luxembourg on May 29 and Russia on June 1, then he could hardly expect to be going to Poland and Ukraine.
That prospect has prompted an apology from the player.
"I'm very sorry for what happened, for the disappointment I've given Manchester City and in particular to Roberto Mancini for whom I have a lot of respect and I'm very fond of," Balotelli told Italian news agency Ansa via his agent Mino Raiola.
Mario Balotelli gestures before receiving a red card during the Arsenal-Manchester City game. Photo: AFP
"I really want to play for the national team but (on Sunday) I committed two fouls during the game, it wasn't a reaction.
"I haven't breached the code of ethics. I've already missed out on the national team for some stupidity and I wouldn't do it a second time. I hope to be part of the April get-together.
"We'll wait for the final outcome of the ban. As for my future we'll see at the end of the season, I'll talk with the club."
Prandelli has a no-tolerance policy towards ill discipline and has always excluded players from his squad if they are serving a club ban for violent conduct.
Balotelli was left out for February's friendly with USA as he served a suspension for kicking Tottenham's Scott Parker in the head.
Although he faces a simple ban for picking up two yellow cards, the Football Association may increase his suspension if they think he should have received a greater punishment for his first booking for a studs-up tackle on Alex Song.