Hughes ready to move for Bellamy as he battles to keep Schwarzer

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The Independent Football

If – or rather when – Craig Bellamy leaves Eastlands, he will not be short of suitors, with Mark Hughes, the man who signed him for Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers, yesterday declaring his interest in the striker.

Bellamy is a long way down Roberto Mancini's list of forwards, even more so since the end of the Mario Balotelli saga yesterday, and Hughes is keen to be reunited with the man he first managed while in charge of Wales.

"He was one of the top players in the Premier League and, if he comes on the market, and, if we're in the position where we can conclude a deal for Craig Bellamy, then yes we would be very interested," said Hughes yesterday, as he prepared for his first Premier League game in charge of Fulham, at Bolton this afternoon.

Hughes will face competition from Tottenham, who can offer the prospect of Champions League football. But his more immediate task is keeping hold of Mark Schwarzer, who has long been coveted by Arsène Wenger. "There was interest from Arsenal in May. Their bid was refused. We have not had any more bids and we wouldn't encourage any," asserted Hughes. "We have to protect Fulham."