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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 11, 2008

Hughes ready to hand Robinho his debut

Brazilian superstar Robinho is relishing the prospect of facing Chelsea in Saturday's "clash of the cash'', Manchester City manager Mark Hughes revealed today.

The 24-year-old will make his City debut on Saturday and Hughes said Robinho had made a point of saying how much he was looking forward to facing the club who came close to signing him from Real Madrid - only to be gazumped by City's £32.5million bid.

City have hired a private jet to fly back their South American players Robinho, Elano, Jo and Pablo Zabaleta from international duty and they are due to arrive in Manchester at midnight tonight, giving them vital extra hours to prepare for the match with Chelsea on Saturday evening.

All eyes however will be on Robinho, and Hughes said: "On the day I met him in London 10 days ago, one of the first things he said was that he can't wait for the game because he can't wait to play against Chelsea, so that's a good sign.

"The intention is that he plays a part on Saturday. The one impression everyone has of Robinho is that as soon as he gets the ball you sense something is going to happen and I think everyone will see that at the weekend.

"By all accounts he did not pick up any injuries [against Bolivia] last night and played 90 minutes, but like all the players who have been away on international duty we will have to get them back and have a look at them.''

City's takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group has shot the club into the same sort of spending stratosphere as Roman Abramovich's Chelsea, and Hughes said the fixtures computer could not have thrown up a better match to set pulse racing.

He said: "I know it's being billed as the 'clash of the cash'.

"We are really looking forward to getting back to playing football and the fixture against Chelsea is a fantastic one for us, it's the perfect game for us given the circumstances.''

Hughes' decision to move from Blackburn looked to have been a dubious one when it emerged that Thai owner Thaksin Shinawatra had cashflow problems after his assets were frozen, but the takeover has ensured that he is back in the big time.

The Welshman admitted he is enjoying the experience of being at a top club again after his playing days at Manchester United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea.

Hughes added: "One of the main reason I came here was the anticipation of going into these games with top, top quality players.

"I missed that, I had it as a player and to a certain extent with Wales but at club level [with Blackburn] I never really had that.

"It was one of the main reasons I wanted to come to a bigger club and at the weekend that will be borne out because there will be a hell of a lot of focus on the game.''

Hughes accepts that the huge amount of extra cash being made available will mean there is a large burden of expectation on his shoulders.

He added: "I came here because I was told there was going to be resources to challenge the top four clubs.

"The circumstances may have changed somewhat but the resources are there - and more.

"Now it's up to me to try to fulfil the promises I made.''

Hughes will not have Martin Petrov available as the Bulgarian is out with a knee injury but Micah Richards could be available after recovering from a shoulder injury. Michael Johnson (groin) is also doubtful.

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