MANCHESTER (AFP) Roberto Mancini is facing his first mini-crisis as Manchester City manager ahead of his sides crucial home encounter with Liverpool at Eastlands here on Sunday. The victors will take a significant step towards winning the battle for fourth place and Champions League qualification. But Mancinis preparations for a game that represents the Italian bosss sternest test since taking over from Mark Hughes and in which the outcome could define Citys season, have been hit by a series of setbacks. Friday saw Patrick Vieira ruled out after the City midfielder was banned for three games by the Football Association (FA), having admitted a charge of violent conduct for a mid-week challenge on Stokes Glenn Whelan. Patrick made a mistake, now we wont have him for three important games and it will be a problem, Mancini said. Mancini will also be without star striker Carlos Tevez, who has decided to remain in Argentina to be with his wife after she gave birth prematurely, while Martin Petrov has suffered a setback in his recovery from a knee injury and will be unavailable for up to another month at least. Meanwhile, Mancini has also been forced to deny reports of a training ground bust-up with Craig Bellamy over the wingers recovery from a slight knee injury. Mancini is confident his relationship with Bellamy is still intact, but does admit to having had a slight disagreement with a player who has been one of Citys finest and most consistent performers this season. I read that I have a problem with Craig, I read that I shouted at him. Craig was training yesterday (Thursday), Craig was training two days ago, Mancini said. Craig is training this (Friday) morning. I have spoken with him face-to-face, manager to player, but I never shouted at him. These things can happen in your job, in my job, but I say everything face-to-face. I havent a problem with him. If his knee is okay, he is available on Sunday. I did not send him away for three months. He is here training. This can happen between players and players, manager and players. I have spoken with him in my office but these are normal things that I speak about with one player. When we have a problem, we solve the problem face-to-face, but we dont have a problem. If his knee is okay he is a very important player for us. I have worked with big players, players who have won the Champions League, the World Cup, and his temperament is not a problem. For me, the most important thing is the club, explained Mancini, whose fourth-placed side are a point in front of Liverpool with a game in hand. Then the players, then the manager, but at the top, always the club. Craig has been an important player. All the players are important for me and I have respect for all the players. Carlos being in Argentina is another big problem for us. We havent had Carlos for a long time. Now is a frustrating time, a difficult time. We have one more game in hand and we play against Liverpool. This is whats important, not other things. Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has no such problems, other than the one of having to leapfrog City and somehow achieve his promise of securing a fourth-place finish at least. Benitez admits he is happy Tevez is absent, but the Spaniard is still wary of the home sides quality. Clearly he is a good player who is doing well, but they have other good strikers, so I think they have enough quality in the squad and can replace Tevez with another good player, Benitez said.