Hughes questions size of Adebayor fine

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The Independent Football

Manchester City boss Mark Hughes is delighted to have Emmanuel Adebayor available for Monday's Premier League clash with Aston Villa even if he thinks his striker's £25,000 fine was a bit over the top.

After serving a three-match ban for scraping his studs across Robin van Persie's face, Adebayor feared he may be sidelined for even longer because of his controversial celebration against former club Arsenal on September 12.

In the end, after City provided evidence of similar cases in the past and taking into account the intense provocation Adebayor received from the Gunners supporters at Eastlands, the Football Association decided to give him a two-game ban, that will be suspended until next year, and a large fine.

Although the money is not going to make much of an impact on Adebayor's weekly salary, which is assumed to exceed £100,000 a week, it is five times more than Manchester United defender Gary Neville was forced to shell out for his inflammatory celebration against Liverpool in 2006.

The fact is not lost on Hughes, although he is satisfied Adebayor is free to play again.

"When you look at similar cases in the past you could argue that the fine is bigger," said Hughes.

"But we knew there was a chance Emmanuel may have got more games so we are grateful that hasn't happened."

Neville has accused the FA of being over-sensitive about goal celebrations, which sometimes are understandable given the amount of bile that often comes down from the stands, Adebayor being an obvious case in point.

"There is an obligation on players but there is emotion in the moment," said the Welshman.

"Emmanuel apologised straight away but you must look at the degree of things. There was a bit of provocation and that needs to be taken into account."

With Adebayor back in the squad and Roque Santa Cruz confirming his well-being with a substitute appearance in Monday's defeat of West Ham, Hughes has all four front-line strikers available for the first time.

Robinho's continued absence with an ankle injury does at least provide an opportunity to play Craig Bellamy in a wider role on the left, although with Stephen Ireland now fit after a sickness bug that ruled him out against the Hammers, Hughes has selection issues across the pitch.

One man virtually certain to play is England international Gareth Barry, who has been an outstanding success since his £12million transfer from Villa at the start of the summer.

The Villa supporters were exceedingly unimpressed when Barry decided to quit.

But a run of four wins from five games matched the form of City until last weekend's unexpected reverse at Blackburn and Martin O'Neill insists the damage has not been too bad.

"Teams have to adjust and correct themselves when they lose an obvious talent like Gareth," said Hughes.

"Martin was making the point that they have been able to adjust and the impact has not been as great as it was initially feared.

"That doesn't mean they don't miss him. It is maybe a case of looking at their own resources and changing the way they play.

"I can understand that. Life moves on."

The same could also be said for former City skipper Richard Dunne, although the Irishman did leave Eastlands with a volley of invective aimed at executive chairman Garry Cook.

But Dunne and his old boss know the outcome on Monday will be viewed as a significant pointer to the aspirations of two sides both aiming to smash the top four cartel.

"Aston Villa have spent a significant amount of money, so they have made their intentions known," said Hughes.

"We are two clubs who feel we have the capacity to challenge at the top end at some point in the future.

"That is healthy for the Premier League. The more challengers you have the better it is for the competition. It keeps the interest alive.

"Maybe in the last few years it has been a foregone conclusion. This year I feel it might not be."