Hughes holds on to Johnson after £8m bid by Newcastle

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The Independent Online

Manchester City rejected Newcastle United's £8m bid for Michael Johnson yesterday out of a determination to develop a player Mark Hughes believes can have a future at the club, despite the abdominal injuries which continue to deter his progress.

Despite some doubts from within the club about the attitude of the 20-year-old whose attempts at rehabilitation are questioned by some on the coaching side, he is still considered a player for the future. He broke down after a return to first-team training in Tenerife last week and his recuperation remains a worry for City.

City, who did not return to Blackburn with an improved bid on the £16.5m they offered last Thursday for Roque Santa Cruz, have sent Jo on loan to Everton and Tal Ben Haim on loan to Sunderland. David Moyes has long admired Jo and tried to sign him for around £12m in the summer before City gazumped them with their £19m offer and a permanent deal this summer would appear to be on the cards if the prospect of regular first-team football creates some consistency in an individual who was a Brazilian international at the age of 20.

The disappointments of the window for City were, Santa Cruz and Kaka aside, missing out on Lassana Diarra and Kolo Touré. The unexpected lack of interest in one player who seemed likely to leave, Elano, provides some hope of him settling. He has shown fleeting examples of last season's form.

*The Blackburn Rovers midfielder Brett Emerton has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a cruciate knee ligament problem. The Australia international was injured in Saturday's goalless draw at Middlesbrough.

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