AaB dream fading as Hughes thinks big

A rash of injuries have put a major dent in Aalborg BK's hopes of overturning a 2-0 loss against Manchester City FC, with visiting manager Mark Hughes pushing his side towards a place in the final in Istanbul.

AaB may be reaching the end of their European journey this season
AaB may be reaching the end of their European journey this season ©Getty Images

A rash of injuries have put a major dent in Aalborg BK's hopes of overturning a 2-0 loss against Manchester City FC, with visiting manager Mark Hughes pushing his side towards a place in the final in Istanbul.

Enevoldsen suspended
The Danish champions have defied expectations to survive so long in Europe this season, but their number may now be up with as many as five first-team players set to miss their Round of 16 home game against City. Magnus Pehrsson's side need to score at least twice to make it to the quarter-finals, with midfielder Thomas Enevoldsen's suspension arguably the least of their problems.

'I heard a crack'
Dutch defender Steve Olfers has not played all spring and will definitely miss the game, along with forward Jeppe Curth, who has been ruled out with a foot injury sustained in Sunday's 1-1 draw at relegation-threatened SønderjyskE. "I got a kick on the inside of my leg and the outside of my foot hit the ground," he remembered. "I heard a crack and afterwards could not stand on that leg at all."

Defensive concerns
Although tests have shown Curth has not broken a bone, a two-week absence means he is out of the City decider. The big concern now is that central defensive partners Kjetil Wæhler and Michael Beauchamp will also be absent, with both nursing injuries. The pair have gelled quickly following Wæhler's arrival in January, and losing either – or both – for Thursday's game would represent a serious problem.

City concerns
City, meanwhile, travel to Denmark for the third time this season with their spirits high, despite a 1-0 loss at Chelsea FC at the weekend. There is a chance that injured striker Craig Bellamy will play and Robinho has been passed fit, though Vincent Kompany faces a late fitness test. Hughes, meanwhile, is starting to think about the final in Istanbul on 20 May.

Final target
The Welshman said: "We only got in the competition because we won the Fair Play League. We're probably grateful to be in there, but it was an opportunity we wanted to take. Other clubs took a different view of the competition and prioritised the Premier League. We like to think we've concentrated on both. We're proud to be the last English club standing. We'd be even prouder to get to a European final. It's been an achievement up to this point – but we'd like to see something more substantial at the end of it. If we can keep going we will reap the benefit, not just this season but in future in terms of experience."

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