Hughes hoping for away lift

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Manchester City boss Mark Hughes admits his all-star cast must starting winning away from home if they are to have any chance of playing European football next season.

City's only away victory of the current campaign in the Premier League came back in August when they triumphed 3-0 at Sunderland. Since then they have recorded four draws and five defeats on the road, relying almost exclusively on their efforts at Eastlands - where they have won their last four league games - to climb away from the foot of the table.

Hughes' side have moved up to ninth and the manager said: "We would like to think we can sustain a challenge from now until the end of the season. It will be difficult because we've got a period of away games coming up, which will be very testing given our away form this season, so we have got to make an improvement quickly."

He added: "We need to get back on track on our travels. It's been too long since our last away victory."

Despite a dismal showing at Stoke in their last away game, City should be helped by the infusion of talent bought in during the January transfer window with striker Craig Bellamy and goalkeeper Shay Given in particular making an instant impression.

And with Hughes, who also splashed out to sign Wayne Bridge and Nigel de Jong, now able to select something approaching his own team, he expects City to maintain their progress.

He added: "We have always felt that if we can get in the top half we have enough quality to stay there for the rest of the season.

"I have always said that we felt the second half of the season would be the stronger half and I would like to think we are showing that it has the potential to be that.

"We are going in the right direction. We have got to make sure our away form improves because that's holding us back somewhat.

"At home we have been excellent, away from home certainly not and we are looking to improve that."

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Stoke City
Manchester City
Wayne Bridge
Mark Hughes
Craig Bellamy
Premier League
Shay Given
Mark Hughes

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