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Stevie relishing derby day prospects

Stephen Ireland training 0809

Stephen Ireland training 0809

Stephen Ireland thinks the cards are stacked in City's favour ahead of Sunday's derby at Old Trafford.

United may be in the Champions League final and within touching distance of another Barclays Premier League title, but with the Blues on a three-game winning streak and chasing a place in the Europa League, everything is perfectly poised.

On top of that, last season's memorable win for City still lingers with Stephen, who says,

"When you think about the build-up to the game all you have to do is go back to last year and think about how positive it was. With the performance last season and how we are playing at the moment, we have to be confident.

"I'm really looking forward to it, the derby at our place was a real disappointment, but on Sunday it will be electric and it will be up to us to dictate the tempo.

"We have a better squad than last year, the players on the bench are really hungry to get in. Martin and Valeri are fighting to get in, Shaun should be back so it will be interesting to see what the line-up will be.

"Everyone is raring to go, and because we did not get any further in the UEFA Cup, we want to give the fans something to sing about. If we can win there then we can look at getting into seventh on our own."

Warming to the theme of the 2-1 win that came courtesy of goals from Benjani and Darius Vassell, Stephen adds, "It was the best atmosphere I have ever played in. Derbies are always unbelievable, you always look forward to one and when the fixtures come out they are the ones you look out for. We're coming into the end of season fresh, we will have had a couple of days off and I hope we can go there to take the game to them."

City's good run of form has put them in with a great chance of finishing the season in seventh place and thus qualifying for Europe, but with Spurs, West Ham and Fulham jostling for position Stephen knows how much rests on Sunday's game.

"I think we need to get something on Sunday and we are confident, but our remaining games against Spurs and Bolton are still massive. We need to finish the season strongly, we have won three on the bounce, and hopefully we can end the season having won six on the bounce. It's going to be a big game for players, fans, everyone. It's important we get a win and be confident for those last two games.”

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