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Hughes criticises Januzaj theatrics

ESPN staff
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David Moyes wants more protection for Adnan Januzaj © PA Photos
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Mark Hughes has risked his popularity at Old Trafford ahead of Stoke's Capital One Cup quarter-final with his former club Manchester United by insisting Adnan Januzaj needs to learn to stay on his feet more.

Hughes has contradicted Manchester United manager David Moyes regarding Sir Alex Ferguson successor's complaints regarding referee's treatment of youngster Januzaj.

Moyes wants more protection for Januzaj, but Hughes feels he wins too many free-kicks from officials.

Hughes risks a spiteful reception from his old fans for claiming that referees should look into the number of decisions Januzaj gets.

Moyes was angry after United's victory Aston Villa on Sunday with the number of challenges that went unpunished on Januzaj, but Hughes feels he won too many free kicks when Stoke played at Old Trafford in the Premier League earlier this season.

"Managers always protect their players. Januzaj is a big talent and I'm sure he will be a big talent for many years to come. Sometimes you have to let kids stand on their own two feet and get on with it," Hughes said.

"We don't talk like that, but it can happen. Januzaj seems to garner a number of fouls and get a lot of decisions. In our game he got five free-kicks in a very short space of time and at the time I didn't think they were fouls. So maybe that's a side of his game that needs to be looked at as well."

Former United striker Hughes has always been held in high regard by United fans and hopes Januzaj can learn from veteran Ryan Giggs and cut out the theatrics.

"I'd imagine Ryan will be mentoring Januzaj now. Ryan was playing in the Lancashire A and B leagues and had to go to [non-League side] Marine away.

"When you're a 14-year-old kid and have to go up against men you have to deal with that early and learn very quickly how to jump out of tackles," said Hughes,

"He understands his body and does everything in his power to enable him to play at the highest level. Ryan had a lot of attention but he dealt with it really well - especially the tag of new George Best."

Hughes intends to field a near full-strength side, with only back-up keeper Thomas Sorensen set to come in for Asmir Begovic.

He added: "We'll go strong. I've gone strong in the early rounds, so why would I change it for the quarter-final?"

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