Robinho ready to return

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Manchester City boss Mark Hughes will unleash Robinho on Hull believing the Brazilian can remind everyone what a class act he is.

The #32.5million striker has not made a Premier League appearance for the Blues since mid-August, the vast majority of that absence created by a stress fracture of an ankle that he suffered on World Cup duty for Brazil in Argentina.

That three-month void has been filled by endless speculation about the 26-year-old's future, most of which has suggested he will depart Eastlands for Barcelona, if not during the January transfer window, then at the end of the season.

But now Robinho is ready to make his comeback, Hughes wants attention to be focused on the forward's on-field contribution and to remind people about the ability that brought him to City's attention in the first place.

"Robinho is an outstanding player," said Hughes.

"If anyone is out for a long period sometimes you can forget how accomplished they are.

"Having worked with him this week and seen him back in the group, we can see the qualities that he can bring to the side.

"We are delighted that he is back and fit and well because he will have a real influence for us this year I am sure."

Hughes' most immediate priority is turning a run of six successive Premier League draws into a sequence of victories, starting tomorrow when his side entertain Hull.

In that sense, Robinho's contribution could be invaluable.

"He could have turned some of those draws into victories," agreed Hughes.

"If you get him into key areas he is one of the best in the world with his ability at close quarters.

"It is something we have lacked when teams have tried to come and frustrate us."

Jimmy Bullard is back in contention for Hull.

The influential midfielder, sidelined for most of the year with a knee injury, was rested for the midweek win over Everton.

Forward Craig Fagan (rib) is also fit again and Bernard Mendy is available after suspension.

Midfielder Seyi Olofinjana (hamstring) is again missing but could come back into contention next week.

The match sees Tigers boss Phil Brown return to the scene of his infamous half-time team talk.

Hull's debut top-flight season is still best remembered for the moment when Brown kept his players on the pitch after conceding four first-half goals at Eastlands last Boxing Day.

It was an extraordinary decision and came to be viewed as a turning point as Hull's bright early-season form evaporated and the club plunged into a relegation battle.

Its significance was played down by people within the club and Brown himself has always defended his actions, even though results meant the matter was raised throughout the remainder of the campaign.

Brown gave a simple "no" when asked earlier this week if he had any personal demons to exorcise and he further avoided the subject by handing pre-match media duties to assistant Brian Horton.

"I'm surprised people are mentioning that one!" Horton joked. "I didn't think you'd bring that up!

"It will probably stay in the history of football what he did.

"But is that a bad thing? It's a good thing.

"I did crazier things than that. I nearly killed one kid with a Vicks bottle one day when I threw it across the dressing room and it hit him straight on the temple."

He added: "Some people thought it was a good thing, some people thought it was a bad thing.

"We just felt they had let us down, the way we had done things over that period."

Hull head to Eastlands in high spirits after reviving their campaign with three positive results this month.

The Tigers began November in the bottom three of the Barclays Premier League and with reports claiming Brown was one bad result away from the sack.

Victories over Stoke and Everton either side of a draw against West Ham have transformed mood in the camp and lifted the side to 15th.

"Confidence is the biggest factor," said Horton, a former Manchester City manager. "Confidence comes from winning games and playing well."

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Jimmy Bullard
Stoke City
Manchester City
Mark Hughes
Premier League
Craig Fagan
Bernard Mendy
Mark Hughes
Hull City

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