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Fantasy follow-up: Week 18

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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

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By ESPN Staff

Hughes gives Tevez time to stake claim

Carlos Tevez will have a week's intensive training before Mark Hughes decides whether to pitch Manchester City's new cult hero into Premier League battle at Blackburn Rovers.

With Argentina coach Diego Maradona heeding Hughes' plea to leave Tevez out of his country's friendly with Russia in Moscow, City have the chance to build up his fitness after a 25-minute outing against Celtic on Saturday.

Hughes is dubious about Tevez's chances of starting at Ewood Park given it was his first appearance of the entire pre-season campaign as he struggled to overcome a heel problem.

However, recognising what a positive impact the 25-year-old had on the City supporters on Saturday, as well as his contribution to a 2-1 win, the Blues chief is eager to give Tevez every opportunity.

"I would like to think Carlos will play a part on Saturday although we will have to see how this week goes before we decide whether to start him or not," said Hughes.

"He has been a bit frustrated because he has not been able to put any weight on the heel for the vast majority of pre-season and has been chomping at the bit to play.

"But he looked really sharp when he came on. And the reaction he got from the crowd was fantastic.

"He is going to do great things for us. His energy gives the team a trigger and a focus for when we want to press and engage people. He is going to be really important."

For his part, Tevez just wants to be fit. It is the reason that for all the patriotism he has shown throughout his career, he is glad to be staying in Manchester while Argentina do battle against Guus Hiddink's Russia.

"It was a decision taken by all of us," Tevez told the club's website. "It is important to be fit for Saturday and I have only managed two training sessions so far.

"I need to be able to train all next week so I can produce a really good performance on Saturday."

For all the mass of new signings, which Hughes is pledging will continue as he attempts to bring in another central defender before City begin their Premier League campaign next weekend, Tevez seems certain to be regarded as the heartbeat of this new-look Blues team.

The South American's industry will always draw praise. But his status as a player who snubbed Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United and joined City instead ensures him a special place in the hearts of his new club's supporters, which could galvanise the side when they are in trouble.

Hughes will need to check on the hip problem that forced Kolo Toure out after just 18 minutes on Saturday.

The City chief is reasonably confident Toure will be fit for clash with Sam Allardyce's men, although as his attempts to lure Joleon Lescott across from Everton appear to have stalled, a quick refocusing of targets cannot be ruled out, especially as Hughes is not entirely satisfied with his side's defending.

"We are an attack-minded team," he said. "On occasion that caught us out last year so it is a case of making sure we are better and that our concentration levels are high, not only when you have the ball but when you are without it."

The technical aspects of City's play will be lost over the next few days and weeks as an expectant football world waits to see what the initial impact of a summer outlay exceeded only by Real Madrid will be.

As Celtic manager Tony Mowbray observed, Hughes has plenty of goodwill from his fellow managers, while any critics among City's supporters may be silenced for a while as they try to take in the magnitude of charge at their club.

"It reminds me of when I first came to Manchester back in 1965," said Blues legend Mike Summerbee.

"Something special was just about to happen for City and their supporters all those years ago and it is happening again on an even bigger scale.

"With the expectancy, City fans can't help but be sucked into it. I am still pinching myself after all that has happened."

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