Stoke City: I'm fit, firing and raring to go for Manchester City clash, says Steven Nzonzi
STEVEN Nzonzi has declared himself fit to face champions Manchester City on Saturday – despite not playing a game so far this season.
Stoke's £3m deadline-day capture has been sidelined since the end of last season after falling out with Blackburn's hierarchy following their relegation.
But now the 23-year-old Frenchman insists he is ready to take on the Premier League champions... if he is selected to make his debut.
"I feel good," he declared, "because although I have not played, I have been training and working hard all of the time.
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"It was difficult not playing, difficult mentally sometimes, but now I am fine.
"It has been good at Stoke because everybody is making me feel good and feel welcome – the staff and the players."
Nzonzi watched from the stands as Stoke drew 2-2 at Wigan in their last outing 10 days ago when he was suitably impressed with Charlie Adam's debut.
But he stressed he isn't taking it for granted that he and the Scotland international will form a long-term midfield partnership.
"It was a good game away from home," Nzonzi recalled. "The team is very strong and had a good shape.
"As soon as he (Adam) came onto the pitch, I think he gave something good to the team. He has good quality.
"But it is not really my decision if we play together. The manager will decide what is going to happen.
"Whether it is me and Adam, or somebody else, the most important thing is that the team is good."
Nzonzi would appear to fit the bill of a typical Tony Pulis player more than the crafty Adam, as the former Blackburn favourite combines strength and power with an eye for a pass and an ability to attack dangerous areas.
But Nzonzi himself is reluctant to be pigeon-holed as he jostles for position in central midfield against at least half-a-dozen genuine rivals.
"Anything he (Pulis) asks me to do," he stated, "I will try to do it. I cannot say if I am his type of player, but I will just do my best to show I can be good for the team."
But he admits he would rather be playing with Stoke than against them after his Blackburn outfit lost their last five Premier League fixtures against City.
"It was not painful," he laughed, "but it was very hard to play against Stoke, especially playing at this stadium.
"Stoke are a strong team… and always hard."
Irish duo Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters were back training at Clayton Wood yesterday after being released by Ireland following Saturday's World Cup qualifying victory in Kazakhstan.
But full-back Marc Wilson, who was recently recalled to the Ireland set-up after an 18-month absence, remains with the national squad for tonight's friendly against Oman at Fulham's Craven Cottage.