Sparky: Opponents snuffing out Robinho threat

MANCHESTER - Brazil striker Robinho is finding it a struggle to make an impact in the second half of the Premier League season, Manchester City manager Mark Hughes said. Robinho arrived in Manchester from Real Madrid for a British record sum of 32.5 million pounds on the last day of the summer transfer window. However, following a fine start to the season which saw him score 12 goals, he has failed to find the net since December 28. He was dropped to the bench for the first time last Sunday as City lost 3-1 at home to Fulham, their fifth defeat in their last six matches. Hughes is expected to restore Robinho to City's starting line-up for Thursday's UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg against Hamburg, which they trail 3-1 after the first leg. "Robby is a player who on his day can affect the game in a very, very positive way," Hughes told reporters on Wednesday. "What we are finding out at the moment in the second half of the season, at Premier League level certainly, is that teams have looked at him and had the opportunity to work out how to make Robby's impact on the game less than it had been in the first half of the season. "Teams, because they understand he is an outstanding player, will try and stop him being effective and that is what has happened in some cases. "In some games teams have had the ability to stop him having the impact we would like. It has been a struggle, not only for Robby but a number of players." Hamburg spurned plenty of chances to take a bigger advantage to Manchester for the return and manager Martin Jol said his side would not look to play defensively despite being wary of an early City goal. "We would like to score one or two goals," said the former Tottenham Hotspur manager who won all six league matches against City during his time at Spurs. "If they get the first goal it could become critical. If they score early it could change the tie."