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Liberated Ireland aims to keep his place

Stephen Ireland 0708

Stephen Ireland 0708

After getting another impressive performance under his belt during Saturday's opening-day victory at West Ham, City midfielder Stephen Ireland knows he must become a force with the Blues side this season.

Speaking ahead of tonight's game with Derby County, he said: "My aim is to stay in the side as long as possible.

"I know the pressure is on and there are a lot of big names waiting to take their chance if I slip up. This is a big season for me."

But clearly his Manager has liked what he's seen so far from Ireland, who if he features tonight will make his 50th Premier League appearance for the Blues and of Sven, Ireland added: "He is incredibly professional. The training has been brilliant.

"He is not a manager who has long lists of dos and don'ts. He puts his trust in the players to be mature and professional.

"He doesn't always say a lot but when he does everyone listens. He has that respect in the dressing-room already.

"At times last season I was afraid to express myself on the pitch. Now I am not."

And the 20-year-old has been encouraged further with the type of player Eriksson has brought to the Club since his appointment last month.

He said: "There are so many quality players in the squad. Elano is a top-class player.

"I watched him a lot before he came here and I am sure I can learn a lot from him.

"We can score goals from anywhere and we will be entertaining to watch. From a player's point of view it is so exciting to be in a team that moves the ball around like we are trying to do.

"There are some great combinations available to Sven and I certainly feel able to express myself more under him."

Ireland's hunger to be involved anywhere this season shines through and he admits playing under Sven is 'liberating', saying: "What I am encouraged to do is explore options and take on defenders and that's what my game is about. It is liberating.

"I have played behind the striker and on the right so far, and I am happy in either position once I am playing.

"It was great to get the win under our belts in the first game. But now we must follow that up tonight against a side who had a decent result in their first game."



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