Robinho return boosts City

Updated: 28 November 2009 18:04 IST

Robinho is set to make his long-awaited return to action as Manchester City attempt to revive their push to secure a Champions League spot next season.

Robinho return boosts City

Manchester:

Robinho is set to make his long-awaited return to action as Manchester City attempt to revive their push to secure Champions League football next season at the expense of Hull.

City's Brazilian play-maker has been sidelined since the end of August with an ankle injury and has repeatedly been linked with a move to Barcelona.

Robinho's injury has also been the subject of plenty of speculation with City becoming involved in a row with Brazil over the player's possible participation in an international friendly with England two weeks ago.

The former Real Madrid player, who cost City 32.5 million pounds in August last year, scored 15 goals last season, including two in the home game against Saturday's opponents Hull.

City's attempts to force their way into the top four have been hampered by a run of six straight draws stretching back to the end of September.

And Argentinian defender Pablo Zabaleta feels Robinho's cutting edge could help him improve even on last season's impressive tally of goals.

Zabaleta thinks that it is crucial that City hang on to his fellow South American and also dismissed claims that Robinho is a disruptive element in the squad.

He said: "I think it's vital that Robinho stays with Man City. He is a player who can give us more quality and he means a lot to his team-mates.

"There is no problem with him or with the other players. I think he can do even better.

"Naturally, you always expect more from a player like him because there's a reason why he cost more than 30 million pounds.

"But I hope we can enjoy having him with us for a long time. The truth is, we will achieve our goals faster as a club with players like Robinho here."

Having Robinho available again means that manager Mark Hughes is close to having a full group of players to pick from, although Kolo Toure is doubtful with a back problem and winger Martin Petrov is out with a knee injury.

Midfielders Vincent Kompany and Michael Johnson both made appearances in the reserves' 1-1 draw with Blackburn on Monday and are hoping to feature in Hughes' squad.

But City know that although they have showed impressive resilience so far this season, victories in even two of their six draws would have them in the top four.

Hull should have Jimmy Bullard back after he was rested for the 3-2 win over Everton in midweek and Craig Fagan could also feature after suffering a stomach injury in the 3-3 draw with West Ham last weekend.

It will be the first time the Tigers have returned to Eastlands since last season's 5-1 defeat which saw manager Phil Brown controversially conduct his half-time team talk on the pitch.

Last season's heavy defeat was the start of a miserable run that culminating in Hull narrowly avoiding relegation on the final day of the season.

But after a shakey start to the current campaign, they have pulled into mid-table with a run of seven points from their last three matches.

Brown, who appears to have staved off pressure for him to be sacked, is confident that the Tigers can continue their fine form if they continue to be positive.

They have scored eight goals in three matches and he said: "It can only be down to confidence.

"Everybody showed that if you're prepared to step up to the plate with the ball then you've got a chance.

"Confidence has spread from results and those results have allowed us to play more freely."



Topics : Football Chelsea
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