Hughes earmarks Ireland as future City captain

Hughes earmarks Ireland as future City captain

Mark Hughes has tipped Stephen Ireland as a future Manchester City skipper.

Hughes confirmed he had handed Kolo Toure the captain's armband yesterday in the wake of Richard Dunne's move to Aston Villa.

Toure did the job at Crystal Palace and Portsmouth immediately before the international break and has emerged from a clutch of alternative candidates, including Gareth Barry, Shay Given, Craig Bellamy and Nigel de Jong.

Ireland also made the shortlist after impressing Hughes during parts of the pre-season campaign when Dunne was missing.

And, as a short-term replacement for Toure will be required in January when the Ivory Coast star heads off to Angola for the African Cup of Nations, Ireland may get another chance to hone his captaincy skills before, at some stage in the future, getting the job full time.

"Stevie really enjoyed having the armband back in pre-season and I am sure in future he will be a Manchester City captain," Hughes told www.mcfc.co.uk.

"It is pleasing that we have so many characters and personalities in the group, all of whom could have taken the role."

Meanwhile, Hughes has defended executive chairman Garry Cook in the wake of Dunne's exit.

The popular Republic of Ireland star accused Cook of trying to sell him behind his back and claimed he was ignorant of the "core loyalty" in football.

However, Hughes sees a different side to Cook's character and questions Dunne's assessment.

"It is a little bit unfair to highlight Garry and his perceived role in discussions," said the City chief.

"It wasn't as if Richard was forced out of the club.

"He was the only one who signed a piece of paper to change from being a City player to an Aston Villa player."

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