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Boss could give youth a chance

Mark Hughes 0809

Mark Hughes 0809

City's growing injury list could see some promising youngsters earn their senior spurs

That's the message from Mark Hughes, who this week has to contend with the news that Pablo Zabaleta is sidelined for at least two games and that Craig Bellamy could miss the rest of the season.

Vladimir Weiss, Adam Clayton and Ryan McGivern have all been on the bench this season without making it onto the pitch, and if either one were to play they would become the 27th graduate of City's Youth Academy to play first team football for the Club.

The boss knows that he may have to turn to a youngster before the season is out, but is keen to stress that a debut for City would not be handed out just for the sake of it.

He says, "There are a number of players who are very much in my thoughts. It's about circumstances leading into games, and the expectations, and whether or not we get into the position in games where we can bring players on in a positive atmosphere and allow them to develop slowly in the correct manner.

"We have to look at how the squad is. We've probably lost Pablo for a number of games and the opportunities will present themselves. We still need to win Premier League games, that's important for us. But if the opportunity presents itself to blood a young player, we'll have a look at that.

"Sometimes when you have a game like West Brom, for instance, to throw a young kid on wouldn't be fair to him or the team, so it's about getting the timing right when you are introducing young players.

"You look to try and introduce them in front of a home crowd when maybe you are leading a game and are in a comfortable position. That's when you look to blood them."

City's youth system will be in the spotlight again tonight when the Under 18s look to bounce back from their first leg 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in the FA Youth Cup semi final at the Emirates Stadium. There are encouraging words from Mark, who says that the players coming in behind this year's side could keep the standards as high in the coming seasons.

"We are very proud of what the Academy has produced over the years," he continues. "There's a new crop who have made their mark this year and by all accounts the players coming through in the next couple of seasons are going to be as good as anything we have had. The recruitment of these players has been excellent.

"It's a big game for them at Arsenal on a big stage, but it's a score line that is not beyond them to reverse."

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Craig Bellamy Man City vs Newcastle 0809

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Wayne Bridge 0809

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Crowd waving flags and bananas at Man City vs Hamburg at City of Manchester Stadium 0809

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