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Squad shuffle won't block kids

Mark Hughes 0809

Mark Hughes 0809

City boss Mark Hughes is getting ready to do big business again in the summer - but he is adamant that there will be a route left open for his promising Boy Blues to challenge for a place in the senior squad.

While acknowledging that something has to give after the high-profile January arrival of key quartet Shay Given, Craig Bellamy, Nigel de Jong and Wayne Bridge, the manager will keep a way clear for the budding Academy stars.

That makes it inevitable that some players from previous regimes will leave the City of Manchester Stadium once the season is over, but Hughes insists that, like painting the Forth Bridge, his team is a perpetual work in progress.

He explained: "Squad planning still goes on, because after a transfer window has closed you look at what you feel are the strengths and weaknesses of the squad as it now stands, and then you plan accordingly.

"It's not an exact science. Sometimes the players you feel will help the cause are not available; some players already at the club will be coming to the end of their contracts, and you have to make a decision on them.

"But it's also about what talent is coming up through the ranks. You have to make sure that the progress of your younger players is in place, so there are a lot of factors to throw into the mix when planning.

"The aim is a balanced squad, and when we came in the balance initially wasn't right. We've addressed that at a decent level, but there is still work to be done. It's an ongoing process, a fluid thing that can change month on month."

Hughes' squad has grown to 34 - still a good deal smaller than clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United - but he made it clear that the time is nearing when a cull of some fringe players will be in order.

He said: "I prefer to bring players in before I let them go. It's not right to weaken the squad before you have brought in sufficient strength to compensate. That's always been my philosophy in that regard.

"We haven't shed that many players. The numbers are edging up, but the young players are coming through that we want to see progress to the first team. The process has started but it's by no means completed yet."

First Team News

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First Team News

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First Team News

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