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Hughes sounds derby rally cry

Mark Hughes training 0809

Mark Hughes training 0809

Mark Hughes insists his buoyant team will not be fazed by derby rivals Manchester United's powerful performance at Arsenal last night to reach their second successive Champions League final.

Blues boss Hughes was just as interested in Sir Alex Ferguson's team selection for the Emirates as he was in the 3-1 second-leg display that booked the holders a trip to Rome on May 27 against Barcelona or Chelsea.

But he stressed: "Irrespective of who we are up against on the pitch on Sunday, it's about us being positive, and we're going there in good heart and with confidence. We've won our last four games and you have to go to Old Trafford in the belief you can get something out of it. We are in good shape."

United fielded a strong starting line-up before bringing Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov and Rafael off the bench, with Paul Scholes and Carlos Tevez two of their unused substitutes.

Hughes, who will have Shaun Wright-Phillips available again after missing five matches, said: "I was looking with interest in regard to who wasn't playing as much as who was, and you look at the bench and who they're bringing on, they've still got great quality they can call upon.

 

...it's about us being positive, and we're going there in good heart and with confidence.

Mark Hughes

 

"Sir Alex seems to have the knack of being able to get the rotation correct and the performances don't seem to suffer when he makes those changes in personnel - and that's because of the quality he has available to him."

City remain in hot pursuit of seventh place for the last Europa League berth next season, and Hughes added: "It's a big game we need to get something out of. If we pick up points from our last three matches we'll go close."

Versatile Pablo Zabaleta is also expected to be available on Sunday, but Benjani, who scored in City's 2-1 win at Old Trafford last season, is a non-starter alongside fellow striker Craig Bellamy.

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Nigel De Jong celebrates 0809

Sunday's derby should see Nigel de Jong make his first appearance against our cross-city rivals, but the midfielder knows all about what the game means to this club and its fans.

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My hero? Take it as red, says Shay

Shay Given training 0809

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City to tour South Africa in July

City of Manchester Stadium reception at the front

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