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Apr, 6, 2009

Hughes tries to explain Man City's away form

Mark Hughes believes a lack of self-belief is now preventing his Manchester City side from breaking their woeful run of away form in the Premier League.

After 16 away games so far this season City have lost ten, drawn five and won just once, and that solitary victory came back in August when Hughes' side beat Sunderland 3-0.

On Saturday, City tasted defeat on the road yet again losing 2-0 against Arsenal. Hughes' side now have just three more opportunities to end their barren run this term, including the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on May 9.

With City's other two away trips coming against fellow Europa Cup hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, Hughes knows that he will have little chance of securing European football next season unless he quickly finds a solution.

However, he feels City's problems on the pitch have now been exacerbated by a psychological barrier.

"The longer this run goes maybe the self-belief aspect comes into it," said Hughes. "We have confidence at Eastlands. There we are a fantastic team to watch and we score goals.

"Away from home you have to stick your chest out and say to the opposition 'come on what have you got'. But we just weren't able to ask enough questions and at the moment that is happening too many times away from home."

City have been able to win matches away from home in the UEFA Cup, although not since the group stage last year when they overcame Schalke. Hughes returns to Germany later this week for a quarter-final against Hamburg, when he hopes to have Stephen Ireland available.

The midfield playmaker missed out at the Emirates with a recurrence of an ankle injury he first suffered in Aalborg, when City scraped their way into the last eight.

"He went over on it again during virtually the last kick of a training match we had last Thursday," said Hughes. "It was the outside rather than the inside but obviously it's irritated the old injury. He has a chance for Thursday but no more than that."

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