Hughes issues Robinho defence
Mark Hughes has again reiterated his view that Robinho remains a key figure in his long-term plans for Man City.
Last Updated: 24/03/09 6:57pm
Mark Hughes has again reiterated his view that Robinho remains a key figure in his long-term plans for Manchester City.
The gifted Brazilian arrived at the City of Manchester Stadium in September amid a flurry of fanfare for a British record £32.5million fee.
Robinho initially settled quickly to the pace of the Premier League and impressed with a series of bright displays, particularly at Eastlands.
The second half of the season has not panned out as well though, with Robinho's form badly dipping. He has faced accusations of no longing having his heart in the club's project and a series of off the field problems have hardly aided his cause.
Speculation that a summer move to Chelsea - the club he originally wanted to join from Real Madrid - could be back on the agenda has ceased following the exit of Luiz Felipe Scolari from Stamford Bridge. Yet rumours of a poor relationship between Hughes and his star striker persist.
Hughes is adamant the stories are not true. And the City boss is confident Robinho will be around for a long time.
"There is no reason for anybody to think Robinho is not playing well for any other reason than the opposition stopping him," declared Hughes.
"He is aware of the stories about him and he knows the focus is on him.
"But he is in my plans long term. People who say otherwise are just being mischievous.
"He is an outstanding player who wants to be part of what we are doing.
"But he is also a professional football player and he doesn't enjoy getting beaten."
The recovery from injury of Martin Petrov, who is not far away from a return after a serious knee injury which was originally thought would rule him out for the remainder of the campaign, could help take some of the attacking pressure off Robinho.
"Robinho's favoured position is on the left-hand side, cutting in, but we could also play him off the front," said Hughes.
"I certainly think you could play them both him and Petrov in the same team.
"If we had the benefit of Martin Petrov all season it would have given me a lot of variation.
"We could have changed things around because he would have given the opposition different problems.
"You want someone who will take people on and get crosses in. On occasions, we have lacked that ability this season."