Hughes calls Bruce 'confused' over Palacios claim

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Manchester City's arrival among the nouveau riche of the Premier League has fostered some bitterness towards them in the past few weeks but Mark Hughes returned Steve Bruce's recent attack on the club with interest yesterday, suggesting that his old team-mate was "confused" and that he may be lacking the mandate to hold on to his best players at Wigan. Bruce has attempted to repair relations with City since his comments on Monday in which he called their motive for inquiring after the availability of Wilson Palacios (pictured) "disgusting".

It is understood that Bruce telephoned City's executive chairman, Garry Cook, to smooth things out. But Hughes described as "bizarre" Bruce's suggestions that City's inquiry was political, aimed at forcing Tottenham to withdraw interest in Craig Bellamy in return for Palacios being left for Harry Redknapp. "I'm not sure where Steve was coming from," Hughes said.

"I think he confused everyone including himself. Managers obviously want to keep their players but cheap shots at City are the norm. He's obviously lost two or three good players. He has the mandate I would have thought to tell his chairman he doesn't want to sell. Maybe he hasn't got that.

"We made an inquiry because we'd seen that maybe he [Palacios] was moving and wanted to know the situation," Hughes said. "We asked was he for sale and were told 'yes he could be'. Garry [Cook] said he would speak to [opposite number Brenda Spencer] after we'd seen him play again."

Hughes has not ruled out the club making a sixth bid in a year for Roque Santa Cruz following Blackburn's rejection of the latest £18.5m offer.