Belfast Telegraph

Hughes blasts upcoming international friendlies

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes has expressed his frustration at international matches being scheduled in the week the Barclays Premier League season begins.

Hughes has a number of players travelling to all corners of the globe ahead of the opening-day match against Blackburn a week tomorrow.

After investing heavily in the transfer market, he is particularly angry at not being able to finalise his plans on the training ground in the hours leading up to kick-off.

Hughes has taken issue with the fixture planners and said: "It is a frustration because historically the week leading into the first game was always really important.

"That period was when you fine-tuned the team and tried to get everyone at the same level in terms of fitness and mentality going into the first game.

"It is now compromised because players are flying around the planet playing international friendlies.

"The consolation is that everyone is in the same boat and other clubs will be as badly affected as we will be.

"You just make the most of it, and hope you will get everyone back fit and well on Thursday.

"Some may well miss Friday, which is not ideal preparation for the first game, but it is what we are presented with."

City wrap up their pre-season programme tomorrow when they face Celtic, conquerors of Dinamo Moscow in the Champions League, at Eastlands.

After losing to Rangers in midweek, Hughes is expecting another competitive game from one of the Old Firm.

He said: "It will be another good test. Their confidence will be on a high because they had a fantastic win in midweek.

"The game at Rangers was at a better level than those we had before, and that is what you want.

"You need a gradual increase in the intensity of games, and in the level of the games, and that is what we are getting.

"I am looking forward to facing Celtic but it's a friendly game and what we really want is for the new season to start.

"We are getting to the point where we are really looking ahead to a week on Saturday."

Belfast Telegraph


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