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First Team News

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Rocky takes an opening round KO

Hughes talking Roque Santa Cruz

Hughes talking Roque Santa Cruz

Roque Santa Cruz, one of Mark Hughes' stellar summer signings, will miss the start of the campaign as City's coaching staff guide the former Bayern Munich and Blackburn striker back to full fitness.

Mark Hughes has revealed that Santa Cruz will probably not be available for selection until September, ruling him out of an intriguing opening day debut against his old club Blackburn at Ewood Park.

Hughes kept Rocky fighting fit in their successful season together at Ewood after his injury-hit years in Germany, and the Blues boss is determined not to rush the Paraguay striker back into premature action.

Santa is in the last stages of recovery from knee surgery at Blackburn, and the manager said: "He's been training every day but he's probably two to two and a half weeks away from training with the group.

"Then there will be a period of time when he needs to get some general fitness with the group, but it's not a case of trying to force him back - we've got options up front, so we have the luxury of time in that respect."

One of those options, Argentina star Carlos Tevez, received a huge welcoming cheer today from more than 10,000 fans at City of Manchester Stadium who helped make the Club's Open House a roaring success.

They celebrated his direct hit in the "crossbar challenge" with gusto as the little striker, earlier excused international duty next week by Argentina coach Diego Maradona, excelled in the special fun sessions.

Hughes thanked the "understanding" Argentine FA for agreeing to leave Tevez out of the trip to Moscow, giving him a better chance of making the line-up at Blackburn a week tomorrow despite a nagging heel injury.

The boss is considering a role for Tevez against Celtic on Saturday, but said: "We'll see how he goes. He's been doing loads of fitness work. We'll try to give him some game time but not if we feel it's a risk."

Craig Bellamy, another strike option for City, worked through the summer and is feeling the benefit. Hughes said: "He's strong and sharp, but three games in a week is not what we look to give Craig given his history."

         

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