Pablo Zabaleta reckons City must beat Burnley on Saturday to ensure they gain the psychological boost of occupying a Champions League berth during the international break.
The Blues currently lie fourth in the table with a game in hand on their rivals, and the Argentine defender says it's vital for morale to maintain that status until hostilities resume.
City were held for the fourth successive match at Birmingham on Sunday, and Zaby said: "The next game is now very important. It is a good opportunity because we are playing at home and we need three Premier League points to stay up there.
After the draws, we really need to win now, especially as we are going into the international break
"It is a long time until the next game against Liverpool, and we want to be fourth during that time. It's important to us that we are in a Champions League position going into the break."
Zabaleta will not be fooled by Burnley's new-boy status after Birmingham's spirited efforts. He admitted: "Birmingham were stronger than I expected. We tried to play our football and had some chances, but they were at home and made it difficult for us.
"Shay was fantastic for us again. He is the goalkeeper you want to be facing a penalty. He has so much Premier League experience and he makes it look simple. Even though we had a clean sheet, we were really disappointed because we lost a big chance to win after our run of draws."
Pablo is said to be a target for Spanish clubs in January. He said: "The beginning of the season was so different for me. I was on the bench for four or five games. But everyone wants to play in the first XI and we have a good squad with many quality players.
"We all have to fight for our place, but I am enjoying it. I'm trying to play my best football and I have no problem playing right back or midfield. The manager can play me where he likes."
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