City ready for return of Hughes

Aleksandar Kolarov believes Manchester City are still very much in the title race as Mark Hughes prepares to make his first return to Eastlands since his sacking 14 months ago.

Updated: February 26, 2011 14:12 IST
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Manchester: Aleksandar Kolarov believes Manchester City are still very much in the title race as Mark Hughes prepares to make his first return to Eastlands since his sacking 14 months ago.

City start the weekend eight points behind leaders Manchester United with just 10 games remaining after Sunday's visit of Hughes's Fulham.

Hughes was dismissed as City manager in December 2009 after 18 months in charge, with Roberto Mancini quickly unveiled as his successor.

City's squad has undergone a major revamp under Mancini and only one or two players from Hughes's time in charge, Carlos Tevez included, are expected to face Fulham.

And Serbian international Kolarov, a £19 million Mancini signing from Lazio last summer, believes City are well equipped to win silverware this season.

After securing a place in the last 16 of the Europa League in midweek, Mancini's side are still in the FA Cup while Kolarov has not given up on the title, despite losing to fierce rivals Manchester United in their last league outing two weeks ago.

"Our position is good in the table, we can be better but we try to do our best in all the competitions - FA Cup, Europa League and Premier League," said Kolarov.

"We are trying for next season to play Champions League and trying to win some trophies if possible this year."

With back-to-back league games at home to Fulham and Wigan before travelling to Chelsea on March 20, Kolarov insists City must take six points ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge.

"Fulham will be a very difficult game because they are in a good moment," he added. "It will be a good game, we hope to win it - we have to win the game."

Vincent Kompany is a major doubt after the Belgium international limped out in the first half of Thursday's 3-0 Europa League victory over Aris Salonika with a hip injury.

Kolo Toure could come in as a direct replacement, although Jerome Boateng is also capable of filling the void.

Hughes has played down his return to City but the former Manchester United player is expected to receive a warm reception from fans, many of whom had sympathy for the way he was ruthlessly dismissed.

City were sixth in the table when the ex-Wales manager was given his marching orders after steering to the team to victory over Sunderland, a 3-0 defeat at Tottenham having sealed his fate three days earlier.

He was out of the game for seven months before taking over Fulham in the wake of Roy Hodgson's move to Liverpool.

Hughes hopes that a spot of warm weather training will catch his former club cold after taking Fulham, who start the weekend in 13th spot, four points above the relegation zone, to Portugal ahead of the City match.

"We really enjoyed it and it was good for the guys to get together," said the Fulham manager. "They've had a lot of games in the last couple of years and enjoyed success together.

"But they've never been taken away. It was a new experience for them. I'm hoping we'll get a positive reaction on Sunday."

Midfielder Steve Sidwell has been ruled out for at least a month after damaging knee ligaments while striker Bobby Zamora, who has only recently returned to action following a broken leg, is a doubt with a damaged ankle.

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  • Football
  • Aleksandar Kolarov
  • Mark Hughes
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