Ireland will be future Blues captain, says Hughes

MARK HUGHES has tipped Stephen Ireland as a future Manchester City skipper and defended club chief executive Garry Cook’s role in the transfer of Richard Dunne.

Hughes confirmed he had handed Kolo Toure the captain’s armband 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, who has made himself unavailable for international duty, also made the shortlist after impressing Hughes during pre-season when Dunne was missing. 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 in pre-season and I am sure in future he will be a Manchester City captain,” Hughes said.

“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 Cook in the wake of Dunne’s exit.

Dunne accused Cook of trying to sell him behind his back and claimed he was ignorant of “core loyalty” in football. But Hughes 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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