Zabaleta prepared to fight
Pablo Zabaleta is determined not to lose his place when the new arrivals turn up at Eastlands in January.
By Richard Bailey
Last Updated: 30/12/08 4:00pm
Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta is determined not to lose his place when the new arrivals turn up at Eastlands in January.
The full-back signed from Spanish side Espanyol for £6million in the summer as a replacement for the Tottenham-bound Vedran Corluka.
After coming through his first Christmas break unscathed at a time when he would usually be putting his feet up Zabaleta is keen to get more action under his belt.
Since his arrival the Argentinean has played 14 times in the Premier League producing some assured displays helping him to settle quickly to the pace of the English game.
The 23-year-old knows only to well that with the new owners ready to splash their cash at the first opportunity in January every player is fighting to make sure it is not them that has to make way.
"I feel bit by bit I am getting better and better," he told the Manchester Evening News.
"I feel as if I am fitting into the team more with each match I play. I know that it is a big project here and that the club is building for the future.
"Every match is like an examination for every player. Each of us is playing to be part of the long term plans here. That I know is my big challenge."
Zabaleta also has his sights set on the Uefa Cup. With City qualifying for the last 32 of the competition the Blues have been drawn against FC Copenhagen.
The former Espanyol ace is looking to banish the memories of losing the 2007 final on penalties to Sevilla by helping lead City to victory this time around.
"We lost that day but of course there is the chance for me to help City get to the final this season," he added.
"I want to go as far as possible in the competition and get the opportunity to play against the top teams in Europe again."
The defender is also keen to add to his six senior international caps. The City man watched from the stands as Argentina beat Scotland in Diego Maradona's first game in charge at Hampden but holds hopes of receiving another call-up.
Zabaleta captained his country's youth side to World Cup glory in 2005 in a team boasting Lionel Messi but admits that his new international boss has not been in contact.
"He hasn't been in touch yet but I am hoping he will notice my performances."