Manchester City manager Mark Hughes insists that winning the Uefa Cup is not the club's only route back into Europe next season.

City play the first leg of their Uefa Cup quarter-final against Hamburg next Thursday night but according to Hughes the Eastlands club is not relying on that as their only European option.

With eight domestic games to go, Hughes believes qualification for the rebranded Europa Cup via a league position is not out of City's reach and said: "It's more than a possibility. Obviously certain things need to happen with teams in the Champions League positions winning trophies just to drop it down."

He added: "We are probably a little bit too far away to get sixth position but certainly seventh is well within our grasp and we will be working to that end."

City are currently 10th in the table but only three points behind Wigan in seventh.

And Hughes is confident of a productive end to the season with injured players Michael Johnson, Martin Petrov, Daniel Sturridge, Benjani and Dietmar Hamann all closing in on a return to fitness to bolster the City squad.

"We are stronger than we have been in the first half of the season and we have got players coming back," Hughes added. "They will give us energy and enthusiasm for the games we've got left. And will help give me more options and more variation and we are really looking forward to this last period.

"It's good timing that we have good players coming back to supplement a team that has had a long season.

"The introduction of fresh talent and fresh energy will be significant, I'm sure.

"We have got eight Premier League games and hopefully more in Europe. We are at the business end and those games can really focus players' minds. You tick them off and go with the attitude that we will try and win every one. That is certainly the way we will go about it."

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