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First Team News

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Leading man Dunne back to lift the Blues

Richard Dunne 0809

Richard Dunne 0809

Mark Hughes will welcome back Richard Dunne for the UEFA Cup tie with FC Copehagen on Thursday night after admitting that his team lacked leaders in the disappointing 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth this weekend.

City's skipper and centre-half steps back from suspension in Denmark along with Shaun Wright-Phillips as City bid to quickly move on from a Premier League performance that left manager Hughes far from happy.

Seventh place in the table was on offer - the highest position since September - but City's lacklustre away form raised its head again with some big trips coming up for the Blues in the last third of the campaign.

Hughes left his players in no doubt that he expects much more from the side, saying: "We needed leaders at Portsmouth and we didn't have enough.

"It was an opportunity to go seventh - we could have kicked on from there, but instead it was a setback. The performance wasn't anywhere near the level we needed it to be.

"We work really hard all week to give the players information and an understanding of the game plan but on Saturday that had not been taken on board.

"If you veer away from what you're trying to do then on occasions you will be exposed. It is frustrating for everybody - we see good signs then away from home disappoint too many people. It's got to stop. We have to make sure that we pick ourselves up now."

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Portsmouth v City 14-02-2009

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Craig Bellamy Ireland International February 2009

Mark Hughes has backed Craig Bellamy's response to a Welsh fan at Wednesday's international in Portugal and praised his contribution to City's performances since his arrival from Newcastle last month.