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Boss takes care over countdown

Hughes at Barnsley preseason friendly

Hughes at Barnsley preseason friendly

Mark Hughes is already having to juggle his playing resources carefully with the big Premier League kick-off at Blackburn still more than a week away!

The Blues boss, who has new strikers Carlos Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz injured, has senior players at different levels of fitness and is keenly aware of next week's untimely round of international matches.

Those factors all came into play in Wednesday night's friendly against Scottish champions Rangers. Goals from Stevie Ireland and Martin Petrov were not enough in a 3-2 defeat, but Hughes admitted to other priorities.

City's manager said: "You need to look at different combinations, but you have to remember you can't expose players to too much of the game if they are not quite at the required fitness level.

"We have guys who have internationals next week as well, and that came into my thinking when it came to substitutions. Gareth (Barry) has not trained much in the last week, 45 minutes was the maximum we could really afford for him.

"We took Nigel (De Jong) off as it's likely he'll play 90 minutes for Holland next week. We have to get what we need out of the games, but protect the players as well. The key is making sure everybody's fit and well for the first game."

Veteran Scotland defender David Weir's late winner took some gloss off City's performance, but Hughes added: "I actually enjoyed the game, it was a good test for us.

 

In pre-season games like this you always get to about 60 minutes and make a few changes, then the rhythm of the game goes because that's what both sides tend to do.

Mark Hughes

 

After that it can be difficut to judge. There were good aspects to our play, and other things we need to work on, but that's why you need these games - to highlight what you need to look at leading into that first game at Blackburn.

"In the first half I thought we looked quite comfortable and restricted them to a couple of chances. We created some good movements in the final third and looked a threat. All in all, it was a good exercise."

 

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