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Bellamy better by far, says boss

Craig Bellamy celebration 0809

Craig Bellamy celebration 0809

Craig Bellamy's instant impact on City's fortunes has reinforced Mark Hughes' belief that the well-travelled striker has stepped up to the next level as a predatory Premier League player on top of his game.

Bellamy has fired three goals since his arrival last month from West Ham, including vital strikes against two of his former clubs Newcastle and Liverpool, as the Blues set their sights on a top-ten finish to the season.

The 29-year-old forward is at his eighth club, including a loan spell with Celtic, but Hughes said: "Craig is here because he wants to test himself, not to line his pockets and make more money, because he's already a wealthy young man.

"He's here because he has an immense respect for the likes of Robinho - he wants to play alongside the best in the world. Robby was one of the main reasons why he came here, and they can benefit from each other.

"I know his character and his qualities, not only as a player. I knew his demanding nature and willingness to work exceptionally hard would help us. He gives you what he's got and is constantly trying to improve.

"His critics are people who've never worked with him on a daily basis. He's held his hands up to certain misdemeanours in the past and they sometimes get highlighted before the positive things he's done.

"But I know that the Craig Bellamy I'm working with now is far and away a better player than the one I was working with for Wales and at Blackburn. We've got a heck of a player.
  
"Craig stands comparison to a lot of other players at the highest standard that I've worked with. He's got that drive and that winner's mentality - he wants to be the best he can be.

"His traits make him the individual that he is. He's not perfect, but he's more mature now. If you listen to what he says, he talks a lot of sense. People should look at the articulate Craig Bellamy and realise he has a real love for the game."

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Shay Given 0809

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