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Hughes: Robinho struggling

BRAZIL striker Robinho is finding it a struggle to make an impact in the second half of the Premier League season, Manchester City manager Mark Hughes said.

Robinho arrived in Manchester from Real Madrid for a British record sum of 32.5 million pounds (US$48.28 million) on the last day of the summer transfer window. However, following a fine start to the season which saw him score 12 goals, he has failed to find the net since December 28.

He was dropped to the bench for the first time last Sunday as City lost 1-3 at home to Fulham, its fifth defeat in its last six matches. Hughes is expected to restore Robinho to City's starting line-up for the UEFA Cup quarterfinal second leg against Hamburg, which it trails 1-3 after the first leg.

"Robby is a player who on his day can affect the game in a very, very positive way," Hughes told reporters.

"What we are finding out at the moment in the second half of the season, at Premier League level certainly, is that teams have looked at him and had the opportunity to work out how to make Robby's impact on the game less than it had been in the first half of the season.

"Teams, because they understand he is an outstanding player, will try and stop him being effective and that is what has happened in some cases. In some games teams have had the ability to stop him having the impact we would like. It has been a struggle, not only for Robby but a number of players."

Hamburg spurned plenty of chances to take a bigger advantage to Manchester and manager Martin Jol said his side would not look to play defensively.


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