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Life's not a beach just yet, says Hughes

Mark Hughes 0809

Mark Hughes 0809

Mark Hughes has promised Blues fans that the dark days when under-achieving City players might already be dreaming of an exotic summer holiday before the end of the season are in the past.

City are ready to sign off their first season under Hughes' guidance on Sunday in a Barclays Premier League finale against north-west neighbours Bolton that is expected to pull in a 45,000-plus crowd.

And the Blues manager is confident that his star names will be looking to give fans an appropriate "thank you" performance for their support rather than slipping into the "beach towel" syndrome of days gone by.

Hughes said: "Our fans have been fantastic, and we'll hope to respond to that. We want to show the supporters that we are thankful for the support we get from them on a daily basis. I've watched them all in training this week, and I will know exactly who is on the beach and who isn't. But I haven't seen any signs of that.

"Historically, maybe in the past this club has been guilty of being on the beach since probably March onwards, but that certainly hasn't been the case this year. With one game to go, at home in front of a near full house, I don't anticipate anybody will be thinking about their holidays."

Hughes and his coaching staff will take a well-earned break with the campaign completed - but the boss will soon be back to initiate the summer recruitment drive sanctioned by Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

Khaldoon warned earlier this week that City's owners will not launch a mindless spending spree, and manager Hughes is clear about his targets and the positions in his senior squad he will concentrate on.

The Blues boss said: "We know the areas we need to strengthen and will look to do that in the close season. It's about getting the best quality we can find at the price we feel is right."

Meanwhile, Hughes is keen to see a swift conclusion to Stephen Ireland's contract talks. He said: "Talks have been positive and for everybody's benefit, we want to get it done and dusted quite quickly. We recognise the progress he has made this year, and his outstanding season needs to be rewarded."

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Shaun Wright Phillips vs Hamburg 0809

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Players from Gillingham 1999 in 2009

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Stephen Ireland and Elano Blumer 0809

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