Ireland to fight for Man City place

Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland insists he is focused on fighting for a first-team place at Eastlands, despite ongoing speculation linking him with a move to Sunderland, Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur.

The Republic of Ireland international was named City's player of the season last year after establishing himself as a key player for the club under Mark Hughes.

However, with the arrival of the likes of David Silva and Yaya Toure this summer, as well as City's very public pursuit of James Milner, it was widely believed Ireland would seek pastures new this summer.

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Sunderland, Fulham and Tottenham are among those thought to be monitoring his situation but the 23-year-old knows nothing about any concrete interest.

"I am very ambitious but accept things are out of my hands. I have a contract so all I can do is keep performing, presenting myself well in training," said Ireland.

"If I have to move on, then so be it, but I am happy to stay and keep working.

"Of course, if I haven't played much by Christmas then any player would want to know what is happening. I only know what I read in the papers. I haven't heard one bit of solid interest.

"I have heard Fulham, Spurs and Sunderland mentioned but I have not been told anything. I'd hope the club would contact me if there was some interest, but I am not looking at that."

City boss Roberto Mancini has hinted that Ireland may be sold along with Craig Bellamy - who has also been linked with a move to both Craven Cottage and White Hart Lane - due to the Premier League's new squad size regulations.

But Ireland is relishing the competition for places and believes he can play a big part in City's future.

"I want to push for a place in the starting XI. It might take me a while to prove that to him but I will do everything in my power to work hard and prove to him I can play," he added.

"I have been training hard in America on the pre-season tour and I need to build on that.

"I found that very difficult last season, being in and out of the side. But looking back at it the gaffer came in and had a few months to try to get us into fourth position and, unluckily, we just didn't quite get there.

"But now he has more time he can maybe re-evaluate me and, hopefully, rate me and give me a chance. If he does then I need to take it.

"I think he definitely rates me and he has put me in my position that sets me free in certain areas. We have a big squad of players with great depth so you have to try your best in every game and every day to impress and show your quality in training. Hopefully, I can play a part in what is happening here."

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp has recently played down rumours of Ireland joining Tottenham, stating: “I like him [Ireland], but he is expensive.

"Maybe he’ll be £11-12 million. We wouldn’t be in a position to spend that much on him if that’s what they’re wanting.”

By Saad Noor

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