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SWP simply the best, says boss

Shaun Wright Phillips 0809

Shaun Wright Phillips 0809

Mark Hughes goes into the sharp end of City's exciting two-fronted campaign hailing danger man Shaun Wright-Phillips as being among the best signings he has ever made.

The Blues manager, who has steered his team to within sight of seventh place in the Barclays Premier League as well as the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup, will look to brave SWP to inspire a rousing finish to the season.

Hughes made some astute signings as Blackburn manager, landing star strikers Roque Santa Cruz and Benni McCarthy in cut-price deals that paid high dividends as well as pound-for-pound bargain defender Chris Samba from Berlin. But as Shaun shrugs off knock after knock to conjure some match-winning performances, Hughes rates his swoop on former club Chelsea to restore City's prodigal son to a sky blue shirt as one deal he has never surpassed.

SWP's ankle problem did not prevent him coming off the bench for England in last night's 2-1 win over Ukraine at Wembley, and the tricky forward will be keen to face Arsenal at The Emirates on Saturday to kick off the eight-game countdown towards a possible Europa Cup ticket.

Hughes said: "He's had ankle problems, bangs on his knees, shins, everything - but he always puts his hand up and is prepared to stand up and be counted. He always wants to be involved in everything, and of course, he's a proud Englishman.

"He just loves football, I think that's the top and bottom of it, and it's plain for everybody to see. There are times when he plays when maybe he shouldn't. But even then, he puts in performances that have an impact on the game. We're delighted that he's back. Him being here again has been great for everybody at the club. A lot of people know him from his years coming up through the ranks, and they all have a great deal of time and affection for Shaun."

Nor has the crowd favourite simply slotted in as the heartbeat of the side: "He's come back to the club as a better player as well, which makes it even better. Of all the deals that I've done, Shaun is up there with the best."

Meanwhile, Hughes, who enjoyed a feisty rivalry with Arsene Wenger in his time at Blackburn, admits that he will happily use Arsenal's style as a template for his City side of the future.

He said: "We do have players of that ilk, and there are comparisons to be made. They have a few years on us, and we are not quite there yet. But their type of football is something to aspire to, maybe with some subtle differences."

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