Stephen Ireland has warned his teammates that they must learn to embrace rest and rotation if the Blues are to become the best in England and beyond.
The 23-year-old midfielder has been in and out of the side this season and when he looks at the substitutes’ bench in some recent matches, he knows that there may yet be more of the same yet to come.
But the reigning player of the season, who today travels with the squad to face fellow top four hopefuls Tottenham, is up for the battle and is adamant that competition is the quickest route to success.
Rotation is here to stay at any successful club. It is going to happen and that’s the main difference between this season and last season.
...Stevie on rotation policy...
“It was fantastic to watch the lads beat Chelsea in our last home game,” he recalled. “I was gutted to not be involved. I celebrated with the lads, but I would have loved to have been part of beating them, but I picked up an injury and that game came around too quickly for me.
“Being in and out of the team is all part of the job. Of course I want to start every match but so do 20-odd other top class players at the club.
“Rotation is here to stay at any successful club. It is going to happen and that’s the main difference between this season and last season.
“It happens at Chelsea and all the other top teams and we seem to have the right blend at the moment and things are going really well for us; so if you’re in one week and out the next, you can’t really complain. It’s something you have to get used to.”
That doesn’t mean Ireland will be happy to be a substitute, far from it, he wants to make his selection as automatic as it possibly can be.
“I make sure I work my socks off and give everything each time I train or play. I always make sure that when the stats are checked mine are the highest in the team - or at least up there with the highest - and apart from a couple of injury set-backs they have been,” he continued.
“When I get back in the side I’m going to be doing everything I can to make sure I stay there as long possible and make it difficult for the gaffer to leave me out.
“That is how teams evolve and improve. Every team needs competitor to drive players to improve and we have loads of it now at City.
“Last season we had three central midfielders and it was easy enough for me to get into the team, but this year is different and that is a challenge for everyone in the squad, not just me.”