Football

Birmingham Vs Sunderland, Sat 16 Apr 2011

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Birmingham's veteran striker Kevin Phillips wants another season of top flight football after believing he has proved he can still play at that level.

Phillips, 37, will face his former club Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League relegation clash at St Andrew's.

He has vowed not to celebrate should he score and plunge the Black Cats closer to the relegation zone after a disastrous run of one point from eight games.

But Phillips' current over-riding emotion is of joy after being brought back to the forefront of Blues boss Alex McLeish's plans at the business end of the season.

He has started the last two matches against Bolton - when he scored in a 2-1 win - and Blackburn from which City have picked up four points to ease their fears of going down.

Phillips said: "My legs haven't gone, believe you me, and it's nice to have the confidence from the manager of being picked.


 

"I think the most important thing from my point of view is can I still play at this level because you do start questioning things.

"I think I've proved to myself and a lot of people that I can certainly still play at this level and it's an immense enjoyment.

"It's given me that appetite again and makes me want to play for a lot longer, definitely .

"I've questioned my ability, or my ability to put the ball in the back of the net.

"But I've been quite proud of myself in the last two weeks that I've lasted 90 minutes and I've actually felt stronger as the games have gone on."

Phillips added: "You have to ask the manager whether I play every game from now until the end of the season or 50 or 60% of them.

"But I certainly feel that I can still put the ball in the back of the net and if we create chances I can certainly put them in.

"But it's not all about me. As a team we've got an extremely tough job to do but one that we believe we can see through."

Phillips believes Sunderland have the right combination in his former strike partner and current chairman, Niall Quinn, and manager Steve Bruce to steer them out of trouble.

He said: "I think Niall would be great to work with. Everyone you speak to up there adores him. He's a gentle person but when he needs to crack the whip he'll crack the whip.

"It's pretty obvious they're having a tough time at the moment but I believe they've got the right person in charge to see them through it.

"I'd rather be in their position at the moment, three points better off than we are.

"I certainly believe they'll be okay because they've got the players and the staff there and certainly the manager to get them through this difficult period."

Bruce is convinced he remains the best man for the job as he prepares to launch another rebuilding mission.

The 50-year-old found himself in the firing line last Saturday as a home defeat by West Brom left them perched precariously just above the developing scrap for top-flight safety.

It was all in stark contrast to the prevailing emotions on Wearside just a few months ago when Sunderland were contesting a top-six spot and dreaming of a first ever qualification for Europe via the league.

Bruce said: "I knew coming here, that was part of the territory, and that just shows you how quickly it changes.

"Eight games ago, I was the best thing since sliced bread - in some people's eyes - and within eight games, now all of a sudden people want me out.

"I can understand where they are coming from - I can't quite believe it, but there you go.

"There will be certain people who didn't want me here in the first place, and I can understand that as well, but that's football.

"All I can say to them is I will work as best as I possibly can to turn it around.

"It is what it is, managing in the north-east. But I still don't regret it, I am still confident I am the right person for the job.

"But make no mistake, it's difficult. I could have quite easily stayed at Wigan, where Roberto Martinez, for example, has been in the bottom three all season and not a hint of 'Get him out'.

"That's the way it is."

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