Man City boss Hughes hails Ireland

“Prospects of good players coming to City should stimulate the ones already here,” said Hughes.

“The prime example is Stephen Ireland. People were assuming that if new players were arriving, he would make way. But I never thought in those terms and certainly Stephen never did.

“If he had thought that would the case maybe his performances would have been at a lower level. As it is, he has really grasped the opportunity he has been given and has been our best player from the start of the season.

“If you are the sort of player who is discouraged by a challenge then maybe you shouldn’t be here in the first place.”