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Hughes bolstered by return of Benjani and Vassell

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes has received some much-needed good news from the physio's room after strikers Darius Vassell and Benjani both came through a reserve team outing against Liverpool on Monday evening.

Neither has made a first-team appearance this season with Vassell suffering a knee injury in a pre-season friendly against AC Milan, and Benjani ruled out with a persistent thigh problem.

However, both came through a meeting with the Liverpool, with Benjani finding the net to seal a 2-1 win.

The return of two strikers who bagged 21 goals between them in the Premier League last season (Vassell six, Benjani 15 - 12 for Portsmouth) will add some much needed firepower to City's forward line which has failed to hit the target in their last two games.

The pressure is starting to mount on Hughes with his side losing both their last two fixtures; they were defeated by Bolton Wanderers 2-0 on Sunday and by the same scoreline against Middlesbrough last Wednesday.

The return of Benjani will add strength to the forward line of Ched Evans, Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips which, although skilful, has begun to look lightweight in recent games.

Despite some flashes of brilliance from Robinho following his £32.5 million arrival from Real Madrid the Brazilian's form has dipped, with two tired performances from him since the impressive hat-trick against Stoke City.

Left-back Michael Ball also made his comeback from an ankle injury on Monday night, although that has not stopped Hughes being heavily linked with a move for Marseille's Nigerian defender Taye Taiwo in the January transfer window.

The left-back slot has proved something of a headache in recent weeks for City. Neither Ball nor Javier Garrido have impressed and while Micah Richards has insisted he has no problem filling the vacancy, the England star has looked ill at ease in the role over the past two games.

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