City seek to prove credentials in UEFA Cup

Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha says medals and not money will tempt new recruits to the big-spending club, ahead of their UEFA Cup quarter-final first leg at Hamburg on Thursday.

City's take-over by the hugely wealthy Abu Dhabi United Group in September thrust the club into the spotlight and after an indifferent start they are now beginning to climb the Premier League table. Such is the club's financial strength that rumours are already beginning to circulate about who they will sign in the summer, but England Under-21 captain Onuoha feels the UEFA Cup trophy is more likely to lure big names than the promise of a juicy contract.

"That would definitely mean more than the money," Onuoha said. "There is so much potential here now and the chance to be able to afford better players. But they will come because they see the club is moving in the right direction."

City's form has been patchy all season - they have managed consecutive league victories on just two occasions - and much has been made of the performances of £32.5 million record signing Robinho, who hasn't scored since the end of December. The Brazilian has been playing with a sexual assault charge hanging over his head, but after that was dropped on Monday and City skipper Richard Dunne backed the fleet-footed winger to rediscover his best form.

"It was an awful thing to be accused of and it would affect any man in that situation," Dunne said. "He's got a young family and they are his main concern so hopefully that has lifted a bit of weight off his shoulders and he can start playing with a smile on his face again and showing what he can do."

City coach Mark Hughes has injury concerns over left-back Wayne Bridge, former Hamburg utility man Gelson Fernandes and star midfielder Steven Ireland, and he will be mindful that Hamburg are in top form after a 1-0 victory over Hoffenheim on Saturday sent them up to second place in the Bundesliga.

German challenge
The winners of the tie will face either Hamburg's German counterparts Werder Bremen - who knocked out favourites AC Milan in the round of 32 - or Udinese, the only Italian side left in European competition. On-loan Chelsea striker Claudio Pizarro netted a hat-trick as Bremen trounced Hannover 4-1 in the league on Sunday, while Udinese will be without talismanic captain Antonio di Natale after he suffered a serious knee injury while on international duty with Italy.

The other two last-eight ties feature four of the biggest names from France and Ukraine. Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk face Marseille, whose fierce rivals Paris St-Germain take on runaway Ukrainian league leaders Dynamo Kiev.

With a 15-point advantage over Shakhtar, Dynamo are well-placed to secure the national championship, but Marseille and PSG are both firmly still in the French title race, one point and four points off leaders Lyon respectively. Both sides won at the weekend to stay in the domestic title hunt and their fans are now dreaming of a semi-final showdown in the UEFA Cup.

"I'd really like to play Paris in the next round," said Marseille winger Hatem Ben Arfa. "It would be a great match and a great season if we managed to beat them again. That would prove that we are better than them."