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Who wears the pants?

Mark Hughes and Daniel Sturridge at Player of the Year 0809

Mark Hughes and Daniel Sturridge at Player of the Year 0809

Mark Hughes stepped up to collect Stephen Ireland's trophy at the Official Supporters Club awards night - but the City manager drew the line at stepping into the Blues star's Superman underpants.

Midfielder Stevie was named Player of the Year but, along with defender Micah Richards, was laid low by gastric flu and unable to attend the top event in the Citizen's Suite at City of Manchester Stadium.

Blues boss Hughes was given a huge cheer as he accepted the award on behalf of the absent Ireland, but revealed to hundreds of laughing fans that he'd turned down the chance to don the player's famous pants.

He joked: "Stevie's sent his Superman pants through to me to wear tonight, but I was worried that I'd get contaminated by the flu virus and we've got a big game coming up against Bolton."

Ireland took the OSC's top honour to end skipper Richard Dunne's four consecutive victories, with versatile Vincent Kompany coming second and never-say-die Pablo Zabaleta claiming third place.

Hughes said: "Stephen has been a credit to himself this season. He made a decision that he needed to get his fitness back on track last summer - he's an ambitious lad and wants to be the best he can be.

"He's also responded positively to everything we've told him, and as a consequence of those two factors he's had an outstanding season. From my point of view, you the supporters have made the right decision."

Ireland had collected in person his LIVE4CITY Player of the Year Shield 24 hours earlier, but both he and Richards have been isolated from the squad to prevent the flu spreading.

The City boss added: "We don't want to take any risks. Bolton is important to us. We want to says thanks to our fans after a season that has been sometimes stimulating and sometimes frustrating."

Danny Sturridge, collecting the Young Player of the Year award, said: "We've got the best Academy in the world. We produce players season after season and there are more coming through." Fellow strikers Felipe Caicedo and Ched Evans were second and third respectively.

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