Stephen Ireland admits that he might go from player of the year and the Blues pre-season captain to not even being in the starting eleven!
The Blues midfielder is aware that the competition for places is so fierce that some big names may miss out come the end of the phoney war and the beginning of the Premier League campaign.
Academy graduate Ireland who led the side to a 1-1 draw against Barnsley at Oakwell on Saturday is determined to do everything he can to make sure he is not one of those left kicking his heels on the bench.
“You can tell from our training sessions how intense the competition is,” he revealed. “There is quality all over the place and everyone has one aim and that is to be in the team that Mark Hughes names at Ewood Park on August 15.
“Just being in this squad is an amazing feeling. Everyone knows that they will have to play well week in week out just to keep hold of the shirt. What the new signings have done already is give the manger so many more options particularly in attack and like I have said before that is definitely a good thing because at times last season other sides had worked out how to stop us.
There are so many good players here now we could put out two decent sides. Just because I was player of the season last year it doesn’t automatically mean I will be in the side this time around. I have to earn that spot and that is what I aim to do.
Ireland admits there is a tangible buzz around the club and training ground the like of which he has never experienced before.
“There is an amazing spirit about the place at the moment and a lot of anticipation and excitement. The squad is gelling really well. Kolo Toure came in this week and fitted straight in as if he had been here for years,” reported the midfielder.
“All the people who have come in this summer are great people and they have all helped improve the group. We all know what we want to achieve this season and we all know we will have to work really hard and together to make sure that happens. We want to really go for it.”