Owen Hargreaves happy to be back after Manchester City debut

22 September 2011 08:50
Owen Hargreaves could not hide his delight after the midfielder made a sensational goalscoring return to action on his Manchester City debut.

In what was his first competitive outing since last November, the 30-year-old struck a stunning 20-yard opening strike in the 2-0 Carling Cup third round win over holders Birmingham at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

City boss Roberto Mancini immediately tipped his free summer signing from Manchester United to play for England again once he returns to full match fitness.

Good to be back: Manchester City new boy Owen Hargreaves was delighted to make his comeback after 10 months out on the sidelines

But Hargreaves, who has not completed 90 minutes of football in three years due to a succession of injury horrors, insisted he was just happy to be back playing again.

'I knew I wasn't far away, just a few tweaks - every time,' he told the club's official website.

'I don't think people would believe me if I said everything that went on, but I am just happy to be back as I never anticipated in my life I would be out for three years - but I am back and I am happy.

Super strike: It took Hargreaves just 17 minutes to open his account for City in a stunning comeback

'I think there was a misconception, I just needed to get in the right direction and the staff and everyone has done well, it will just take time to get into the tempo but so far it has been a great.'

Mancini has backed Hargreaves to become an important part of his plans this season as City contend for honours on all fronts this season, hinting the midfielder could make his revised European squad in January - providing they are still in the Champions League.

'I was happy for Owen. He is a fantastic player. He can become an important player for us if he avoids injury.

Relief: Hargreaves celebrates his goal, setting City on their way to victory over Carling Cup holders Birmingham

'We decided not to pick him for the Champions League squad, but we can do it in January. Four weeks ago when we named the squad, we did not know what his condition would be.

'If he can become the player that he was, it will be very good for the England team. He scored a great goal and did very well, but now he needs time.'

Hargreaves agreed it was special goal, one he was naturallly proud of after successfully coming through a behind closed doors match last week before he triumphant first team return.

On the ball: Hargreaves completed 57 minutes on his first competitive outing for City

'It feels good to get the first game out of the way, but we had a training game last week and I played for an hour - but this was the first official one,' he added.

'The lads did well, professional and to get a couple of early goals helped and all in all it was a decent performance.

'I don't score a ton, because I am a midfielder but when I do score they are normally from distance, I don't get many but they tend to be good.'

National service: City boss Mancini has tipped Hargreaves to win a return to the England squad if he can maintain full match fitness

City were also handed another midfield boost after Nigel de Jong returned to training.

While Hargreaves is in contention to feature against Everton in the Premier League on Saturday, the Dutchman is not expected to return so soon as he steps up his recovery from a foot injury.

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Source: Daily_Mail