Robinho rouses City for tilt at top

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The Independent Football

Robinho has urged his Manchester City team-mates to aim high as they seek to revive their season. The £32.5m British record signing has recovered from the ankle injury that sidelined him for almost three months and was part of the City side that beat the Premier League leaders Chelsea last Saturday.

After a run of seven successive draws, it was the perfect time to find winning form again, with the packed Christmas programme fast approaching, as well as a Carling Cup semi-final with Manchester United.

Given that City are now only 11 points adrift of Chelsea and have a game in hand, Robinho thinks the team should still be ambitious. "We were really happy to win on Saturday," the Brazilian said. "But the most important thing now is to win. There are still a lot of games to go and we want to be top."

Robinho has no sense of foreboding about a festive programme that includes a Boxing Day encounter with Stoke City and a trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers on 28 December.

The former Real Madrid player is not used to being in action at this time of year but is now eager for action. "I am just happy to be playing," Robinho said. "I feel excellent. I am strong, physically and mentally, and I want to play in every game."

Robinho will hope to keep his place for Saturday's short trip to Bolton Wanderers. One player who definitely will not be involved at the Reebok Stadium is the England defender Wayne Bridge. The former Chelsea player was carried off at the weekend after tackling Juliano Belletti. Mark Hughes, the manager, initially felt Bridge would be out of action for a couple of weeks. However, scans have revealed the £12m full-back suffered medial ligament damage, which could sideline him for between four and six weeks. If that timescale proves correct, it will mean Bridge must sit out both legs of City's Carling Cup semi-final with Manchester United, plus the FA Cup third-round tie at Middlesbrough.

In addition, City have eight league games to play before the end of January, although the club hope to get Bridge back slightly earlier than expected.

"It depends on his recovery but Wayne tells us he is a good healer and he is a good professional, so we are hoping it will be sooner," he said.

For the Bolton game, Hughes has the option of either using Joleon Lescott at full-back and pairing Kolo Touré with Nedum Onuoha, or veteran Brazilian Sylvinho could come in for his first Premier League start after joining from Barcelona in the summer.