Shay Given has given defence a ton of confidence, says City boss Hughes
Manchester City manager Mark Hughes claims goalkeeper Shay Given's performances between the posts have exceeded expectations.
Given celebrated his 100th cap for the Republic of Ireland in midweek by keeping a clean sheet in the draw against Montenegro in their final World Cup qualifier.
He has the play-off draw to look forward to on Monday but 24 hours before that will be back on domestic duty against Wigan at the DW Stadium.
Given arrived from Newcastle in January and took the jersey from Joe Hart, who is now on loan at Birmingham.
Hughes is delighted with the way the 33-year-old has raised the bar.
He said: 'Shay has been more than I could have hoped for. In terms of his presence on the field of play, he has a calming influence on the back four.
'There has been a marked difference in the way the guys in front of him have been able to defend. That comes from his knowledge of the game.
'He knows when you might need to take the sting out of games or build momentum. That starts from Shay.
'Off the field he is a guy who has an opinion and is not afraid to voice it. I encourage that situation as it is important. He has had a huge effect both on and off the field.'
Nod and a wink: Manchester City Manager Mark Hughes gives a thumbs up to Shay Given
Hughes added: 'I am very proud he has been able to win his 100th cap while being a Manchester City player because not many people get to that level.'
The former Manchester United striker has given an insight into how City prepare for matches and made the startling admission he was 'a shocking trainer'.
Hughes said: 'The players are enjoying their work on a daily basis. It is about creating the right structure and the right organisation.
'There is a real positive feeling around every part of the club. We are really enjoying our work and what we are producing. Everyone feels this could be the start of something special.
'We have good intensity in training. Maybe some found it more difficult than others to embrace what needed to be done.
'If they can't or won't step up to the plate there is no point them being here.
'I used to hate training for training's sake. I felt it was a waste of time.
'I was a shocking trainer. I was okay on Saturdays mind. But leading up to the weekend I was not the best.'
Hughes could be down on numbers at Wigan because a number of players are injured and that could see Stephen Ireland return to the team.
The midfielder came off the bench in the draw at Aston Villa after a bout of sickness but is apparently unhappy at the way his season is progressing.
Hughes added: 'I am sure Stephen will be frustrated with his own form. He is very hard on himself.
'I have told to look at the positives rather than the negatives as he is an outstanding player. He is going to be a big player for us this year.'