ABU DHABI // Manchester City's record signing Robinho travelled with the squad to the UAE yesterday as the club hope his rehabilitation can be stepped up in the Emirates. While Robinho is not expected to play any part in City's friendly with the UAE at the Zayed Sports City on Thursday evening, the presence of a player, who cost the club a British transfer record £32.5million (Dh200m) when he moved to Eastlands from Real Madrid 14 months ago, should increase interest in the match.
He was named in the Brazil squad to face England in their friendly in Doha this weekend but will be unable to feature due to a stress fracture of an ankle and City expect him to spend most of the week training with them in the capital. While in the Middle East, Robinho will fly to Qatar to be assessed by Brazilian national team doctors. "Robbie is still recovering from injury and has accompanied the squad to continue his rehabilitation," said Brian Marwood, City's chief football operations officer.
"He will make the comparatively short trip to Doha to be assessed by Brazil team doctors before returning to Abu Dhabi to continue working with our club's fitness staff." The rehabilitation work Robinho does in Abu Dhabi is likely to decide his availability for the crunch match against Liverpool - one of City's key rivals for a Champions League place - on November 21. "We hope that Robinho's consultation with Brazil doctors along with the chance to train in a warm climate will facilitate his return to fitness in the shortest possible time," added Marwood.
The City squad for Thursday's friendly is youthful as several of the manager Mark Hughes's first-team players are on international duty. Summer signings Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor, as well as full-back Wayne Bridge and goalkeeper Shay Given, have all been selected to report for international duty and have not travelled to the capital. City's depleted first-team will be represented by their top scorer this term, Craig Bellamy, as well as last season's Player of the Year Stephen Ireland, highly-rated English midfielder Michael Johnson and Zimbabwean striker Benjani Mwaruwari.