Mark Hughes praises Craig Bellamy's positive impact on Manchester City

25 February 2009 08:22
Bellamy's career has been dominated by rows with managers and team-mates but Hughes, whose side face a Uefa Cup last 32 second leg with FC Copenhagen at Eastlands on Thursday night following last week's 2-2 draw, feels that the Wales striker's appetite and desire to succeed will rub off on the City squad.

The forward, 29, has already attracted attention by expressing his opinions in no uncertain terms in the wake of the 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth, even singling out Robinho for a dressing down.

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While in some quarters that has been interpreted as evidence of ongoing problems at City, Hughes, who is also pleased with the impact of his other January signings, Shay Given, Wayne Bridge and Nigel de Jong, thinks that as well as scoring goals, Bellamy has a role to play off the field.

"He's had a fantastic impact on the team, both on and off the pitch. Credit to him because it's not easy walking into a new dressing room in January," Hughes said.

"I think it's healthy, and it's important that players can voice an opinion in a dressing room and I've always encouraged that. It's self-regulation. It can't always come from the manager or the coaches, it has to come from within as well.

"When you get to that stage as a group, then everybody understands the standards and the levels that you have to hit to be a consistently effective team – and that's what we're striving for. It's important to have players who have that will and that mentality and Craig certainly has that in abundance."

Although Hughes failed in his attempts to sign Roque Santa Cruz last month, City's attack has been given a new dimension since Bellamy's arrival from West Ham in a £14 million deal.

Hughes believes Bellamy, who has scored three goals in five Premier League games for City, has improved significantly since their time together with Wales and Blackburn.

"He's older, more mature and he wants to achieve things in his career," Hughes added. "He sees this as a great opportunity to get where he wants to get. As a player, he's fit and well. That wasn't the case at Blackburn – we had to nurse him through games and training sessions.

"Now he can bang out the games and training sessions because he's got such a good work ethic. He's a player that's in love with the game, who just enjoys playing football."

If City can progress a tie with another Danish team, Aalborg, stands in the way of a quarter-final place and Hughes added: "We still have ambitions to qualify again through our league position but it would be great to get to a semi or final."

Probable teams

Manchester City ( 4-2-3-1): Given; Richards, Onuoha, Dunne, Bridge; Kompany, Zabaleta; Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Robinho; Bellamy. Copenhagen (4-4-2): Christiansen, Pospech, Laursen, Antonsson, Wendt; Gronkjaer, Kristensen, Vingaard, Hutchinson; Almeida, Santin. Referee: S Dereli (Turkey).


Source: Telegraph

World Cup Group G

Pos Team Pld Pts
- Belgium 0 0
- Panama 0 0
- Tunisia 0 0
- England 0 0