Mark Hughes has called on his senior stars to lead from the front as Manchester City aim to make further progress in Europe by beating Aalborg on Thursday night.

City will book a quarter-final berth if they can account for a third Danish outfit in the competition, having already overcome Midtjylland and FC Copenhagen.

But Hughes is aware Aalborg - who dropped into the UEFA Cup from the Champions League - represent a significant step up in standard.

And he feels the experience provided by European stalwarts such as Shay Given, Wayne Bridge and Pablo Zabaleta can be a key factor in City's bid for glory.

"As a group we are a little bit light in European experience," said Hughes. "But the senior guys need to lead from the front and help players who have not quite reached the same level."

Given's influence in particular cannot be understated.

The Republic of Ireland star was part of the Newcastle side that made it into the Champions League a decade ago and has 92 caps to fall back on.

And, although he already had an England keeper on his books in Joe Hart, Hughes has been delighted with the contribution Given has made since arriving from St James' Park during the transfer window.

"Shay has been a real positive influence," enthused Hughes.

"He brings a calmness and an assurance to the back four and has experience of European nights that will come to the fore with regard to the games we are involved in."

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