Man City ‘chomp­ing at the bit’ to get stuck into new sea­son

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

MARK HUGHES can hardly wait for the Premier League sea­son to start as Manch­ester City pre­pare for their ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated open­ing game at Black­burn to­day.

Hughes has spent al­most £100 mil­lion on a galaxy of star names dur­ing the close sea­son and the City man­ager knows his re­vamped team will be un­der in­tense scru­tiny when they travel to his for­mer club.

Of the ma­jor new sign­ings, Kolo Toure, Gareth Barry and Car­los Tevez could all make their de­buts at Ewood Park. And while Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz is ruled out un­til the end of the month with a knee prob­lem, Em­manuel Ade­bayor will also be in line for a first ap­pear­ance if he over­comes a groin prob­lem sus­tained on in­ter­na­tional duty with Togo.

City, who are still chas­ing Ever­ton de­fender Joleon Lescott, are the talk of the Premier League and have been hotly-tipped to launch a sus­tained chal­lenge for the top four, al­though Manch­ester United man­ager Sir Alex Fer­gu­son main­tains City are not yet a ti­tle threat.

Hughes knows he can do noth­ing about the in­creas­ing ex­pec­ta­tion at East­lands but feels his squad will im­prove sig­nif­i­cantly on last sea­son’s 10th po­si­tion. Key to that will be im­prov­ing on the away form that brought City just two wins on their league trav­els last sea­son.

But af­ter all the talk, Hughes is just des­per­ate for the sea­son to start.

“All the pre-sea­son games and prepa­ra­tion have been geared to­wards just one thing and that is the open­ing con­test at Ewood Park,” he said. “We are chomp­ing at the bit to get go­ing. There is a tan­gi­ble feel­ing of an­tic­i­pa­tion both within the club and amongst the fans.

“We want to put on a great show for our fans,” Hughes added. “We needed to ad­dress our away form from last sea­son and we have the op­por­tu­nity now to start on the front foot. We can make a state­ment.

City's Eng­land U21 de­fender Ne­dum On­uoha has echoed those sen­ti­ments and ad­mits he will be just as fas­ci­nated to see how the new-look team ac­tu­ally gets on.

“We just want to get started,” he said. “I’m re­ally ex­cited, all the squad are be­cause there has not been a time re­cently where there has been so much at­ten­tion on Manch­ester City.”

Black­bur n man­ager Sam Al­lardyce is hop­ing that cap­tain Ryan Nelsen will over­come a knee prob­lem but South African striker Benni McCarthy looks set to start in at­tack. – Sapa-AFP

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