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Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes is confident that City can make last season's away-day woes even more of a distant memory at Fratton Park on Sunday.

The Blues won just twice away from during the 2008/09 Barclays Premier League campaign, but this season kicked off with a 2-0 victory at Ewood Park. Thursday night saw another win by the same score line in Carling Cup at Selhurst Park, just over a week after a fine friendly win over Barcelona in the Nou Camp.

It all adds up to a good start to the season on all fronts, one that the boss wants to keep going at a ground where City have not won since September 2004.

Reflecting on the opening fortnight of the season he declared:

"Its early days, but I am encouraged by what we have produced and what I've seen so far. There's a real resilience to us at the moment, there was a lot of focus on us ahead of Blackburn, and then we were away at the Nou Camp, which was only a friendly in inverted commas!

"We put in a great shift at Palace as well, we had to be on our mettle to come through that. Those are the type of games that were beyond us last year, and for us to improve so quickly on the road is very encouraging."

Sunday's opponents have had a turbulent few weeks, with Sylvain Distin among those joining the exodus away from the south coast on Friday. But with a new owner now confirmed at Fratton Park, Hughes is wary of what could be in store regardless of which side Paul Hart names.

"It's hard to plan for," he continued, "because personnel-wise they are changing day on day. It will be difficult to get an angle on who we are facing, they may do some business before the game so we'll just have to see what the weekend brings. 

"The key thing is for us to continue with the momentum we have built up over the last few weeks. If we can continue that, we'll go into the international break in good heart. There are some big, big games coming up when we return, so it's important we get a positive result against Portsmouth."

Our last trip to Portsmouth, delayed by a frozen pitch from January into February, saw City slip to a disappointing defeat, but it was a different story on home turf earlier last season when Pompey were demolished 6-0. It's a compare-and-contrast job that Hughes does not want to repeat this time around.

He added: "Those two results illustrated the type of season we had, outstanding at home and a bit inept on the road. We want to improve that, but we're in good shape. It is never easy going to Fratton Park, everybody acknowledges that irrespective of the changes they have had I am sure it will be a difficult game once again."

The Manager also confirms that the Blues will travel to Portsmouth with no new injuries from Thursday's cup tie against Crystal Palace.

"It was high tempo, quite dynamic at times and in those games you can pick up bumps and bruises. But, we looked alright afterwards and now we're looking forward to Sunday."

Don't forget to keep in touch from Fratton Park with mcfc.co.uk's Match Day Centre - with text updates, live stats and live audio commentary from Key 103. 

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