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By ESPN Staff

Hughes backing City's Johnson for England

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes has tipped young midfield star Michael Johnson to become an England regular.

Although it was felt Johnson would leave Eastlands this summer, it now appears the 20-year-old Academy graduate is happy to stay where he is.

Talks are well advanced on a new long-term contract which would see him follow Richard Dunne in committing his future to the Blues.

And Hughes is certain that under his guidance, Johnson will win plenty of caps for his country.

'We have all been impressed with what he has shown so far and I am sure he will be an England regular for years to come,' said Hughes.

'Michael needs to keep working but we can help him. We want him to be the best he can be because he has all the right qualities.

'He won't find anywhere better to develop than here. He understands where the club wants to go and I am sure he wants to be part of it.'

Johnson has now recovered from the thigh problem which kept him sidelined for prolonged spells last term and should be fit for tomorrow night's UEFA Cup tie with Faroe Islands makeweights EB/Streymur.

'Michael's groin problem did hamper him because he was not able to perform at the level people knew he was capable of,' said Hughes.

'But that seems to have settled down. He has just missed a week's training because of a bang on the foot but he looks strong now.'

Elano and Vedran Corluka are among those who also seem certain to be involved as Hughes continues to assess the qualities of his squad, although Tal Ben Haim's arrival will come too late even if the Israeli completes his £5million move from Chelsea quicker than anticipated.

The former Bolton defender was in the north west for talks yesterday, with Hughes confirming City's interest.

'Tal Ben Haim is one of a number of players we have enquired about and discussions are taking place,' he said.

'With so many games to play this season it is important to get the balance right.

'Last season the team was weakened when Micah Richards and Richard Dunne were not in it. We are trying to address that.'


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