City stand by Robinho after assault allegation

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The Independent Football

Manchester City gave Robinho their "full support" yesterday after the £32m player was questioned by police following allegation of a sexual assault in Leeds.

The Brazilian showed no outward sign of anxiety about the sexual assault allegation that hang over him, sharing embraces with his compatriots Elano and Jo and appearing to be in good spirits as he returned to training yesterday, having been missing from the club to help police inquiries on Tuesday.

West Yorkshire police are investigating a student's claim that she had been attacked at The Space nightclub in the city in the early hours of 14 January. The striker has issued a statement on his website denying any "wrongdoing or criminality", to which City added a statement on their own site. "The club have been liaising with, and assisting, both the player in question and the authorities in relation to the West Yorkshire police investigation," it read.

"Both parties have been given the full support of the football club. No charges of any nature have been brought against the player and no further statement will be made whilst the investigation is continuing."

Police said detectives arrested a man on Tuesday and he was later released on bail until an as-yet unspecified date. His team-mates later left Carrington by coach to gather at a local hotel to prepare for last night's match against Newcastle United, though Robinho sought to evade the cameras by getting a lift by car in advance and entering the hotel through a back exit.

Robinho became Britain's most expensive player when he joined Manchester City from Real Madrid in September for £32m. The signing of the Brazilian demonstrated Manchester City's sky-high ambition after the club were taken over by an Abu Dhabi-based group, turning them into the world's richest club.

Shay Given did not travel with the Newcastle United squad to last night's game at Eastlands, with the club citing a knee injury. The goalkeeper remained in the North-east as the team flew south, indicating that the Irishman's career at St James' Park has now reached its critical point.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was expected to be at the game last night. City have offered £5m for the 32-year-old goalkeeper but Newcastle want more, though manager Joe Kinnear said yesterday for the first time that he foresees Given's departure.

He told the Newcastle Chronicle: "I've bent over backwards to keep Shay, and I have told the powers-that-be that he has got to stay. But I understand it from Shay's point of view. He's done 11 years here at Newcastle, and I think he wants a new challenge."

"It's out of my hands, and I am still waiting for the final outcome. But I think he wants a new challenge and that he wants to speak to Manchester City.

"I would be heartbroken to see him go, because he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. But Man City keep banging on the door to talk to him."

The midfielder Charles N'Zogbia also did not travel with the Newcastle squad last night. N'Zogbia has made it clear he wants to move away from St James' Park during this transfer window and has been linked with clubs in France.

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