Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott has hit back at his side's critics and tried to shift attention from the roles of Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez this season.

City were once firm favourites for the Barclays Premier League title but now trail rivals Manchester United by five points with four games remaining.

Balotelli has been blamed by some for City's failure to hold onto the lead they had at the start of March after a series of high-profile misdemeanours.

But Lescott told Sky Sports News: "I think it's a bit harsh to solely lay the blame on Mario.

"He's a young player and he's going to make mistakes, and we all did at that age.

"Hopefully he is learning from them and when he plays he is going to give 100%.

"Obviously he's disappointed what happened with Arsenal but I am sure he's learnt from that."

Balotelli was sent off at Arsenal 10 days ago during a defeat which appeared to cost City the title.

Since then they have responded with convincing wins over West Brom and Norwich with Tevez, restored to the side after his unauthorised absence in Argentina, scoring four goals.

Lescott said: "We're not dwelling on the past. Who's to say that if Carlos had stayed he wouldn't have got injured and been out for the rest of the season?

"We're just grateful now that he's back and playing for Man City and scoring goals."

Lescott insists City are not bottlers and will carry on fighting until the end.

United host Everton on Sunday while City travel to Wolves, with the two Manchester clubs then meeting in a crunch derby at the Etihad Stadium on 30 April.

Lescott said: "Our mental state is fine. We had a bit of a run of consistency in the last few weeks but in the last two games we have shown that we are a good team and our strength in depth is there. We have proven we are a good squad.

"No disrespect to Everton and Wolves but we'd both like to think that we could win those games. So that means there is more emphasis on the derby.

"No matter what we're going to have to win that if we want to win the league and take control of our own destiny."