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By ESPN Staff

Man City boss Hughes facing striker crisis?

Manchester City are facing a major striker crisis ahead of their Premier League opener with Aston Villa on August 17.

New boss Mark Hughes already knows he will be without £19million new-boy Jo, who will be on Olympic duty with Brazil.

However, the former Blackburn chief is reeling at the almost certain loss of Benjani Mwaruwari as well.

It has been reported the 29-year-old Zimbabwe international suffered a ruptured thigh muscle in training, which will sideline him for the rest of pre-season, the trip to Villa Park and beyond.

Given City are trying to navigate their way through the UEFA Cup qualifying rounds it is hardly ideal, leaving Hughes woefully short of attacking options.

With Georgios Samaras now at Celtic and both Emile Mpenza and Paul Dickov released, City only have Darius Vassell, plus Ched Evans and Daniel Sturridge, who has been away with the England Under-19 squad at the European Championships, to call upon.

Italian duo Bernardo Corradi and Rolando Bianchi are available but as both men also look certain to leave, Hughes is unlikely to factor them into his planning.

The City chief was due to meet executive chairman Garry Cook at the weekend to discuss transfer plans now Ronaldinho has opted to join AC Milan rather than take the lucrative contract on offer at Eastlands.

But it now seems extra strikers would need to be high on the agenda.

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