x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Hughes tells squad to earn their stripes

Mark Hughes has challenged his current Manchester City players to show they can take on any newcomers as City are set for the January sales.

All the talk at Eastlands may be about which new players could be arriving in the transfer window, but Mark Hughes has challenged those currently occupying a Manchester City place to show they can take on any newcomers. To say that his players are fighting for their futures is an understatement. City's disappointing position in the bottom three has left their manager with much to ponder after a frustrating season which promised much, but has so far failed to deliver.

With reassurances from the board, Hughes is ready to spend in the January transfer window and a multitude of names continue to be linked with a move to Eastlands. But it doesn't matter who arrives to strengthen his side, the City chief wants his current players to reproduce the form that saw them tipped for a European spot at the start of the campaign. With just one win in nine league games, Hughes said: "You need to be strong mentally and take up the challenge. If you do that then the future at City will be there for you. There should not be an issue, but maybe players are possibly being affected by that. I have not seen it in their play, but as a professional footballer you've got to put that situation to the back of your mind. In the end with a little bit more quality added to squad then things will turn for the better. We're all striving to be successful for Manchester City.

"It is difficult for everybody at the moment. We need to get back to winning ways as quickly as possible because this run has gone on for too long." City certainly need the return of Robinho from an ankle injury to provide some quality against Hull today. Phil Brown's side may not have as many household names, but have upset many of their more fancied rivals in the league with spirit being the key.

While the Brazilian midfielder Geovanni returns to his old Eastlands stomping ground, Hughes will be able to get a close look at one player who has been linked with City. Michael Turner's impressive performances in the Hull defence have also led to talk about an England call-up, but he is not getting carried away. "Like any English player, I would love to play for England, but at the moment I've only played 18 games in the top division," he said.

"I'm not the kind of person who will let talk of England go to my head. I've worked hard to get here and just want to keep improving as an individual and help this club keep running in the right direction." akhan@thenational.ae