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Vieira sounds battle stations

Patrick Vieira v Hull

Patrick Vieira v Hull

Patrick Vieira is ready to do what he does best - roll up his sleeves and help chisel out the result at Stoke that will take the Blues into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

The combative former Arsenal midfielder won four FA Cups during his pomp as Chief Gunner, and hit the winning penalty in a Wembley shoot-out to make a dramatic exit in the 2005 final.

It might even come to spot kicks again at the Britannia Stadium on February 24 after Ricardo Fuller cancelled out Shaun Wright-Phillips' opener to force an unwelcome fifth-round replay.

Vieira, at 33 the voice of experience from a career that has brought World Cup and European Championship medals, has no doubt City will need to fight hard for a place in the last eight.

He said: "The FA Cup is really important to me, and I'm disappointed because I really believed that we should win this game. But we made it difficult for ourselves.

"I've heard that Stoke is a really difficult place to go. But now, if we want to get into the next round, we have to go there and perform and win the game. We don't have a choice.


Stoke are difficult opponents, but we knew the way they were going to play


"Of course, before we can play our football we need to win the battle. It was a battle for 90 minutes.

"They make it hard for you, they are right in your face. But we knew it would be tough. Scoring first should have made it easier for us, but it didn't, so we are quite disappointed."

Vieira came off the bench against Stoke after playing the whole of Tuesday's game against Bolton. He added: "It's important for me to keep working really hard.

"I hope my best form will come quickly - there are not so many games left and we are going to be facing some big teams, so we need every single player to be at their best."

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