Ignoring the rumour and speculation that has been floating around this week, Mark Bowen has been discussing the return of Robinho and warned that he faces a fight for his place:
"He's a naturally-fit guy who doesn't carry a lot of weight, so once he's back training with the group it doesn't take him much time to be right. Once he comes back he'll be ready to put in the side.Robinho's comments that were reported this week have fuelled talk that a January move may well be imminent, and he certainly didn't appear to discount the possibility:
"But Robi is no different from any other player in the squad in that he will be fighting for a place when he regains his fitness. Anybody who watches top-level football knows that is always the case now, and we are no different."Things can change so quickly though - a week is a long time in this game. An injury or two and you're back in the side, and then it's up to you to make sure that you stay there. People might be asking how Robi is going to get back in given Craig's form, but things do change."
"Of course I would like to play for Barcelona, who wouldn't? We could really enjoy ourselves. It would be a pleasure to play alongside [Lionel] Messi, my compatriot [Dani] Alves, Xavi, [Andrés] Iniesta, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, everyone. They are a great team. I have played against them and I know all about their quality. But until now I have only been able to play with them on the PlayStation."However it is worth noting that he also qualified the comments by stating his commitment is to City, and that he sees good times ahead:
"Pep Guardiola's side is truly spectacular. It is an honour that a coach like Guardiola speaks highly of me, for him to rate me as highly as I have read that he does. I genuinely appreciate it, from the bottom of my heart."
"I'm concentrating on doing the best I can for City. We're thinking big now. We have built a very strong side that has aspirations of winning the Premier League with [Carlos] Tevez, [Emmanuel] Adebayor, [Joleon] Lescott and [Gareth] Barry."Given the imminent nature of Robinho's return which could see a spell on the bench given the form of others who have shined in his absence, and that you sense media focus is now beignning to turn a little towards the January window I doubt we have seen or heard the last of reports and stories such as those seen this week.
Despite rumours of a difficult relationship between Robinho and Mark Hughes, I don't think Hughes would be keen to usher him out of the door (despite talk of a £33 million price tag). For all the criticism Robinho has received from fans (and some - not all - of it justified) he remains a huge talent and someone who is capable of operating in a number of positions.
He also does have the ability to alter the course of a game, and for all our squad depth this season, there is not a like for like replacement for what he can offer.
If we do have designs on a top four spot, something Hughes I'm sure realises is a distinct possibility, then Robinho must be a part of the squad that attempts to achieve it. For that reason I don't think Robinho departs in January - even if it does only mean delaying a move until the summer.