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Middlesbrough look to snap goal drought

By ESPN Staff

No late bid from Man City for Santa Cruz

Mark Hughes resisted the temptation to make a deadline-day attempt to sign Roque Santa Cruz even though the Manchester City manager feels his side badly lack a target man.

City officials were surprised by claims that a renewed offer for the South American was tabled at 4pm as there had been no contact with Blackburn Rovers since their last bid at the end of last week.

With City snubbing an £8m approach from Newcastle for England Under-21 midfielder Michael Johnson, the January transfer window closed quietly for the club that attempted to sign Kaka in January.

Whether that allows City to move forward as quickly as Hughes had hoped remains to be seen.

The Welshman has added Wayne Bridge, Craig Bellamy, Nigel de Jong and Shay Given to his squad but, in the aftermath of Saturday's defeat at 10-man Stoke, Hughes admitted he needed a more physical presence in attack.

''Sometimes you need to put the ball into the right areas in the box and things will drop for you,'' he said.

''At the moment we do not have that option. It is probably as a consequence of a lack of a physical presence that has been highlighted time and time again.''

Now Hughes knows he must get to the end of the season without that physical presence, with the exit on loan to Everton of Jo's burly frame only emphasising City's belief the Brazilian has completely failed to impress since his summer arrival from CSKA Moscow.

There was no chance of letting Johnson go though.

The midfielder may have suffered too many injuries recently and there have been negative rumours about his attitude, but City still feel Johnson can recapture the form which saw him likened to Blues legend Colin Bell.

Now Hughes must work with what he has, knowing Given will bring more solidity at the back. A veteran of World Cup and Champions League combat, Given is clear to feature in City's assault on the UEFA Cup, which restarts against Copenhagen next month.


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