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Nigel plans for a tough one

Nigel de Jong

Nigel de Jong

Nigel de Jong reckons weekend rivals Birmingham are already fighting for their Premier League lives - and warns that the Blues will have to match them "200 per cent" for a vital victory.

De Jong and his City team-mates are desperate to get back onto the winning track after slipping out of the top four despite impressively avoiding defeat at Aston Villa and then Wigan.

But the tough-tackling Holland midfielder, who skippered the side to a 5-1 Carling Cup win over Scunthorpe in midweek, expects Birmingham to battle fiercely to stay clear of the bottom three.

Nigel declared: "Birmingham are fighting to keep their place in the Premier League so it will be another big game for us - and we have to win these sort of games to keep up at the top of the table. But it won't be easy and we'll have to give 200 per cent.

"Every club that comes up into the Premier League is going to give everything to stay there. They will put a big effort into it, and we have to do the same thing to match them on Sunday. We know we will have to fight right to the end of the game."

But De Jong, signed from Hamburg in January to become Hughes' enforcer in front of the back four,  is encouraged by the fighting spirit that has reinforced City on their travels this season.

He said: "Compared with last season we are up really up for the away games as well. We know that if we lose a lot of points away from home then you can't expect to catch up with the top four.

"You have to get those away points, especially after the last couple of games, so we need to have a win in the Premier League now."

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