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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 8, 2009

Hughes expects Toure to be fit

Mark Hughes has played down the injury scare surrounding Kolo Toure and claimed the Manchester City new-boy should be fit for next Saturday's Premier League opener at Blackburn Rovers.

Toure lasted just 18 minutes of Saturday afternoon's 2-1 victory over Celtic at Eastlands after reporting soreness in a hip problem that developed last week.

Hughes immediately replaced the former Arsenal man but is confident a week's treatment will be enough to get Toure back on the field when his new-look side face their first competitive test at Ewood Park.

"He had treatment on a rash at the top of his hip this week and felt quite comfortable, which was why I picked him," said Hughes.

"But after about 10 minutes, he said it was bothering him, so we took him off straightaway.

"I don't anticipate it will be too much of a problem and he should be okay for next week."

Hughes admitted City missed Toure's presence, with Chris Killen taking advantage of the Ivory Coast star's exit to level Gareth Barry's opener.

Little wonder the Blues chief has made getting another new centre-half his priority, although, after confirming there had been no progress made in his efforts to sign Everton's Joleon Lescott, Hughes indicated he might now look at alternative targets.

"We have to make a decision on any player we are pursuing," he said. "If we feel a certain deal has run its course, we will look elsewhere."

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce was thrilled to see Darren Bent off the mark after their latest recruit opened his goalscoring account against Hearts.

Record-signing Bent was handed his debut for the friendly at Tynecastle after finally sealing a £10m move from Tottenham Hotspur.

And the striker made an immediate impact on the large travelling support, earning a 1-1 draw for the Premier League side after David Obua had opened the scoring in style for the home side.

Bruce said: "It was good to see 'Benty' score a goal. It's always good to have your striker - who you have just paid a lot of money for - score a goal. For the whole game, he looked a threat.

"Overall, I was very pleased with the work-out. It was more like a cup-tie than a pre-season friendly, in the first half especially. That was good to see. The big thing for me is that we have come through the game unscathed.

"The best people for us today were the supporters, I've never seen a support like that for a pre-season friendly."

Aston Villa's pre-season preparations concluded on a high note on Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 victory over Serie A side Fiorentina at Villa Park.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill handed a debut to new £6m signing Fabian Delph but it was experienced campaigner Emile Heskey who hit winner for the hosts after 14 minutes, the striker reacting quickest to Ashley Young's cross to prod home at the near post.

Fiorentina spurned a great chance to pull level with 15 minutes remaining when Curtis Davies handled in the area, Alberto Gilardino crashing the resulting penalty against the upright.

A late goal from Fabio Quagliarella condemned West Ham United to a 1-0 defeat in their Bobby Moore Cup clash against Napoli.

A keenly contested encounter at Upton Park ultimately went the way of the Italians after Quagliarella looped home a superb flicked header over Hammers goalkeeper Robert Green after 78 minutes.

The visitors were on the back foot moments later, however, when Manuele Blasi was sent off for a second yellow card just 26 minutes after entering the fray as a substitute.

The hosts pushed for an equaliser in the final minutes and came close through Junior Stanislas in stoppage time, but Napoli's 10 men held on for the win.

Blackburn Rover's strikers drew yet another blank in a 2-0 loss at Dundee United.

Rovers missed a host of chances in a goalless stalemate against Hibernian in midweek and again failed to fire as their Scottish Premier League hosts ran out comfortable winners thanks to strikes in each half from Andis Shala and Prince Buaben.

Rovers manager Sam Allardyce freely admits his side could be short of goals in the coming Premier League campaign but of more immediate concern will be the fitness of Chris Samba, Paul Gallagher and Ryan Nelsen, who all picked up knocks today.

Blackburn's Lancashire rivals Burnley also suffered defeat at the hands of top-flight Scottish opposition as St Johnstone ran out 1-0 winners at McDiarmid Park.

Clarets manager Owen Coyle's return to his former club failed to deliver what would have been a morale-boosting win for Burnley ahead of their maiden Premier League campaign, Paul Sheerin's penalty seven minutes from time sealing victory for the hosts.

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