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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug 27, 2008

Hughes backs Jo to be Man City's saviour

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes has identified returning Olympian Jo as his side's possible saviour when they attempt to avoid an early UEFA Cup exit tomorrow night.

City face Danish outfit FC Midtjylland in the second leg of their second qualifying round tie in Herning trailing 1-0 after a surprise defeat on home soil earlier this month.

A lack of match practice before the Premier League campaign began was all too apparent in the first leg as Hughes' side looked sluggish.

However, City now have two league matches under their belt while Brazil striker Jo has returned from the Beijing Games to bolster Hughes' depleted forward ranks.

And the Welshman seems likely to deploy the former CSKA Moscow striker at the SAS Arena with the likes of Valeri Bojinov, Benjani Mwaruwari and Darius Vassell all out injured.

'He trained yesterday for the first time back with the group,' Hughes said. 'He looked sharp, like he had enjoyed the experience, and we hope to tap into that.

'We had a glimpse of him before he left for the Olympics so it was obviously frustrating from our point of view that we haven't been able to have him available up until now.

'But he's a good player, an exceptionally talented young man and he's a good option for us.

'He gives us more presence than maybe we had in the first game.'

Hughes has also been boosted by the rapid recovery of central defender Micah Richards from concussion.

Richards was knocked out - and hospitalised - during City's 3-0 Premier League win over West Ham on Sunday after a clash of heads with team-mate Tal Ben Haim. But Hughes has revealed the defender is training and hopes to have him available for the match.

'Micah should be okay, he will train today,' Hughes said upon arriving in Denmark. 'He was with the physios yesterday and obviously went through all the tests he needed to do to ensure that he'll be available.

'I'll make a decision nearer the game but he should be okay as long as he comes through today's session.'

Despite being behind going into the away leg, City are still favourites to go through to the all-important group stages.

Hughes is confident his side can do that providing they learn from their mistakes at Eastlands.

'We knew before the game that Midtjylland were a very accomplished team with a lot of energy, technical ability and no little pace,' he said.

'So we knew what we faced before the game.

'We talked before the first leg about not over-playing too much in our own half because we knew Midtjylland would try to press early, put us under pressure and force mistakes.

'Unfortunately that's what happened and they scored a goal. After that I thought we really dominated possession but obviously they could defend the lead they had and they had pace, which enabled them to work the counter-attack.'

Hughes added: 'It was a difficult evening. The important thing from our point of view is making sure we start better than we did in the last game.

'If we do that and if we score, then maybe Midtjylland will become a little bit anxious and we will capitalise on that.'

Kelvin Etuhu and Benjani are among those who have not made the trip to Denmark, with Vassell and Bojinov suffering from longer-term injuries.

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