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Waiting in the wings

Mark Hughes mused today on the possibility that Robinho could see a return to action in next weeks Carling Cup tie at home to Scunthorpe:

"There is a possibility that Robi will be on the bench for Scunthorpe, but it might be a bit soon and I don't like to throw players in before they've had games in training or in the reserves.

"We had to throw Vinnie Kompany in because of the circumstances but ideally he'd have had more time, and with the options we've got we can afford to give Robi some more time."

Whilst I have expected changes to the line-up for both of our previous ties in the competition, Hughes has stuck rigidly to his first choice side so far.

This time though we have a number of players who have returned to full fitness but lack match sharpness - Vincent Kompany, Michael Johnson, Roque Santa Cruz and likely Robinho himself. Looking past an opponent can be a dangerous move and the game offers a fantastic opportunity to get through to the last eight, but whilst reserve games can help I'm sure Hughes will be looking at the game as a possibility for these players to taste more competitive action.

Whilst players such as Martin Petrov and Pablo Zabaleta have seen action of late, there are some such as Stuart Taylor, Sylvinho and Vladimir Weiss who have been left kicking their heels on the bench that Hughes could give some time to if he decides to make changes.