Mark Hughes is hoping that two years of frustration for Michael Johnson have finally come to an end.
The Platt Lane prodigy has suffered football’s highs and lows during recent campaigns winning accolades that compared him with some of City’s midfield greats and then missing huge chunks of the seasons through a nagging pelvic injury that defied the medics and gave him pain.
But now Hughes is hoping Johnson is over all the setbacks and ready to challenge Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany for a place in the engine room.
“It has been a real frustration for Michael and for us but he has worked hard through the summer and is in much better shape,” revealed the manager.
“The main thing is hopefully keeping him pain free which was the concern last year when he was always getting niggles that held him back. He is very positive at the moment and hopefully he can have a good pre-season, clear of injury and he will be an option for us.”
Johnson has not started a first team Premier League game since an inspirational performance in the 3-0 away win at Sunderland more than ten months ago.
But in the few matches he did play last season he did enough for Hughes to register his abilities as a box to box midfielder.
“He started really well and I was impressed before he got injured. We haven’t seen enough of him in the Blue shirt. Hopefully that will change,” asserted the boss.
“We can see why the lofty labels were put on him because he has a lot of the attributes that would be really helpful to the team and he was a big loss last year. There were games in which he would have undoubtedly have had an impact.
“Hopefully we have now got to the bottom of the problem and he is more confident that his body will stand up to the rigours of Premier League football. Hopefully he is clear in his own mind that he is over the injuries.”