Football

Ireland: New boys have made life tough

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Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland admits manager Mark Hughes' summer recruitment drive has increased the pressure on existing members of the squad.

England midfielder Gareth Barry and striker Roque Santa Cruz have already moved to Eastlands and others are set to follow. City are expected to win the race to sign former United forward Carlos Tevez and Hughes has not given up hope of luring Samuel Eto'o from Barcelona.

And despite Ireland being the club's player of the year, he is not taking a starting place for granted, telling the club's official website: "What has happened this summer is really exciting and the squad is going to be a lot stronger, that is for sure."

He added: "Players are going to have to be flexible and that is great. There will be a big fight to get into that first team of the season and that is my immediate aim.

"Then it will be to play so well that the manager can never think of leaving me out."

Ireland is not scared of the competition that now exists within the squad and has welcomed the arrival of big-name signings.

"Gareth Barry is a very shrewd and clever signing by the manager. He is a top-class all-round midfielder who will give us more balance," he continued.

"Gareth knows his way around the Premier League and you know exactly what you will get from him.

"The great thing about Gareth and Roque, who is another crucial addition, is that they are players who are in their prime. They are experienced but not on the way down and we have got them at just the right time.

"Roque will help us vary our attacks more. He puts himself about and is a proper target man who also scores goals. He has always struck me as someone who is easy to play off because he holds the ball well and reads the game cleverly."

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Topics:
Football
Stephen Ireland
Manchester City
Carlos Tevez
Gareth Barry
Mark Hughes
Premier League
Roque Santa Cruz
Mark Hughes

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