Robinho began City's game against Fulham on the bench
Manchester City boss Mark Hughes defended starting Robinho on the bench in the dismal 3-1 defeat by Fulham saying the £32.5m star needed a rest.
The Eastlands crowd demanded Robinho be brought on but he had a minimal impact after being introduced on 63 minutes.
"I'm trying to protect the players," said Hughes after the defeat.
"Robinho has had a great first season but has been one of those carrying the vast majority of the workload. It was my first chance to give him a break."
Hopefully we will be in better shape for Hamburg, which is a key game for us
Man City boss Mark Hughes
The Brazilian has had an indifferent 2009, failing to score in the 14 games that he has played this year, after scoring 12 in 19 games after joining City from Real Madrid.
The home fans at Eastlands had chanted "you don't know what you're doing" at Hughes when, with the score at 1-1, he chose to bring on Ched Evans for Valeri Bojinov and leave Robinho on the bench.
But, with City already missing several key players for the second leg of their Uefa Cup quarter-final against Hamburg on Thursday, Hughes insisted he was right to wait until the last half-hour before introducing the Brazilian.
"I know the fitness levels of each player," Hughes added. "So when people make comments maybe they are being a bit too simplistic."
Hughes admits City lacked 'energy'
Robinho will return to City's starting line-up against the German side and Shaun Wright-Phillips, Wayne Bridge and Vincent Kompany - who were left out of City's squad for the Fulham game - should all be involved too.
But Craig Bellamy will be absent and needs a scan to find out the extent of his knee injury, while midfielder Nigel de Jong and striker Bojinov are ineligible.
Hughes admitted his side were poor against Fulham and knows they will have to improve dramatically if they are to progress in Europe.
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