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Bellamy hopes of Aalborg return dashed

sports Updated: Mar 18, 2009 20:03 IST
AFP
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Craig Bellamy's hopes of making an early return to action in Manchester City's UEFA Cup meeting with Aalborg on Thursday have been dashed after manager Mark Hughes ruled the striker out of the trip to Denmark.

City are strong favourites to proceed to the last eight of the competition after a 2-0 first leg win and Bellamy had been optimistic about the chances of featuring in his first game since suffering a knee injury at the start of this month.

Hughes said Sunday's Premier League clash against Sunderland would be a more realistic target for the Wales striker, who has been an instant hit with the City fans since his January move from West Ham.

Hughes is hoping Belgian midfielder Vincent Kompany will come through a late fitness test on a toe injury.

"It is a lot better than it has been, although he is still having a little bit of pain," the City boss reported. "He had a run out for the first time yesterday and we will make a late decision on him.

"Hopefully we will have the option because he will give us that little bit of strength in the middle of the park we maybe lacked (in a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea) at the weekend."

Hughes believes City have got a great chance of lifting the trophy this season but insisted that Aalborg's prospects of overturning the first-leg deficit would not be under-estimated.

"They are a good side," he said. "People shouldn't under-estimate the task that is ahead of us.

"They have caused good teams problems in the past and people shouldn't be distracted by how well we played in the first leg.

"They didn't play as well as people expected because of the manner of our performance.

"If they get ahead they are likely to cause you problems. We have to make sure we are in control of the tie."

A successful run in the competition could yield City's first trophy since 1976. "It'd be great for the team and the club," Hughes added. "It is important to progress in European competitions. We have enjoyed it so far and hope it can continue."