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By ESPN Staff

Hughes angry as SWP set for three-match ban

Mark Hughes has attacked the disciplinary system that is likely to hand Shaun Wright-Phillips the same three-game ban as his assailant, Rory Delap, picked up at Stoke on Saturday.

Delap was sent off at the Britannia Stadium for twice kicking Wright-Phillips from behind.

But the Manchester City player's reaction, a petulant swing of the boot reminiscent of David Beckham's sly kick at Argentina's Diego Simeone during the 1998 World Cup, was missed by referee Martin Atkinson.

The Leeds official has since told the Football Association that he would also have dismissed Wright-Phillips had he spotted the reaction, so City are unlikely to win their case even if they do decide to appeal against a violent conduct charge.

It means Hughes will almost certainly have to do without Wright-Phillips for Saturday's Premier League encounter with Middlesbrough, plus matches against Portsmouth and Liverpool later this month.

Delap will be out for a similar period of time but the Welshman feels it is wrong both incidents should be treated equally.

"Yes, what Shaun did was retaliation. But was it violent?'' questioned Hughes. "It was a human reaction to a situation that was not of his making.

"Shaun was hacked down from behind and the guy followed through on him. In my mind that is violent conduct. To have the same three-game ban as Rory Delap is incorrect but that is what we are faced with at the moment.''

City are investigating whether the FA fell foul of their own rule book by charging Wright-Phillips outside the usual 48-hour timescale.

Should that argument have merit, the England winger would escape punishment completely.

However, the FA claim City had been kept fully informed of a processing difficulty that was nothing to do with Monday's heavy snowfall and are confident the charge will stick.

"It is not an ideal situation,'' said Hughes. "The likelihood is if we do appeal we will not get a decision until late on Friday.

"It could have been dealt with more quickly and we will highlight that point because by Friday afternoon I am trying to prepare a team for an important Premier League game without knowing if one of my players is available or not.''

At least Hughes has his four transfer window arrivals to soften the blow, although Richard Dunne is missing as the City skipper serves the third game of the four-match ban incurred for his dismissal in last month's win over Wigan.

Meanwhile, Hughes has confirmed contract talks with young striker Daniel Sturridge are inching closer to a positive conclusion.

Hughes was aghast to learn Sturridge, one of the brightest graduates of City's prolific academy, had been allowed to drift into the final year of his contract.

It means the teenager is now free to explore other options.

However, Hughes is desperate to keep the 19-year-old and is hopeful of achieving that aim.

"We are not quite there yet but there are meetings planned for this week. We hope something can come from that and Daniel can put it all to bed,'' Hughes told the club's website.

"We want to keep him but there has to be an understanding from his advisors that there is a level for everybody.

"I am sure there is a compromise to be made and we will get there very soon.''

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed Nigel de Jong will not feature in the remainder of City's UEFA Cup campaign. As he has already played for Hamburg and they are still in the competition he will not be eligible for City.


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