Bridge faces ‘Hullishly’ difficult return to spotlight

HULL - Wayne Bridge will be in the Manchester City side that takes on Hull here on Saturday but the England defender could be forgiven if he has other things on his mind than City’s fight for a top four finish in the Premier League.

By (AFP)

Published: Fri 5 Feb 2010, 11:14 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:04 AM

Bridge, who has been sidelined since early December with a knee injury, was confronted last weekend with press reports that Vanessa Perroncel, his former girlfriend and the mother of his son, had been having an affair with John Terry.

The resulting furore has cast doubt on Terry’s future as England captain and provoked widespread sympathy for Bridge, who played alongside Terry at Chelsea before his move to City.

Bridge has made no public pronouncements about the situation but City boss Roberto Mancini has has no doubts about the player’s ability to deal with it.

“I think that Wayne can play on Saturday,” the Italian said. “He has been working with us for 10 days after his injury.

“He is still good on the pitch where he is working very well and for me that is what is important - for me, other things are not important.

“That’s his private life. All I know is that he is a fantastic man and a fantastic player.”

Hull are in the relegation zone but Mancini insists that his players will not underestimate a squad that secured a deserved 1-1 draw with Chelsea in midweek.

City need to improve their away form to improve their prospects of finishing in the Champions League places, having won just three times away from Eastlands this season.

Mancini added: “Hull are not easy to beat on their own pitch, as they proved by holding Chelsea to a draw this week, and they will provide a stiff test for us.

“We need to play with concentration and heart because they will fight hard and we have to be ready for that.”

Mancini could give debuts to Patrick Vieira after the French midfielder recovered from a calf injury, and Adam Johnson, who joined from Middlesbrough on transfer deadline day.

He added: “Adam Johnson is a good young player and we’re very happy to have him here. He is settling in quickly and, like Vieira, it is possible he could play.

“We need a full squad to choose from with four games in 10 days coming up. They may not be teams challenging at the top of the table, but they will all be difficult matches — perhaps more so than the teams in the top six.”

Defender Joleon Lescott is still out with a knee injury and striker Roque Santa Cruz is sidelined with a calf problem.

Hull will be looking for at least the point picked up a 1-1 draw at Eastlands in November that began to pile the pressure on former City manager Mark Hughes.

The Tigers remain deep in relegation trouble and although they have not won since the 3-2 victory over Everton in November, they have only lost once in their past four matches.

Phil Brown insists that he still has plenty of faith in Jozy Altidore despite the American striker’s goal drought.

Altidore, 19, has only managed one goal since joining on loan from Villarreal and that came in the 3-1 League Cup victory over Southend in August.

“People can’t forget that Jozy’s only 19,” Brown said. “As long as Jozy can stay with that form and stay with that confidence, stay with that belief, the goal will come.

“I think that they will be like London busses and if he gets one it will quickly be followed by another.”

Paul McShane should be able to feature against City despite suffering a knock to the eye in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea in midweek but influential mdifielder Jimmy Bullard is still out with a knee problem.

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