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Zabaleta buoyed by competition at City

Pablo Zabaleta believes competition for places has spurred him on to reach new heights in his finest season for Manchester City.

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The Argentinian is the favourite to be named City's player of the year after cementing his place in the team and becoming their vice-captain.

But fellow right-back Micah Richards had a fine season last year while manager Roberto Mancini signed Brazil international Maicon in the summer.

And Zabaleta said: "We have got Micah Richards and Maicon as well, three players for one position. So, that means you always need to work hard and try to play good games to keep the place."

Zabaleta joined City from Espanyol in 2008 and added: "Since signing for Manchester City it has been one of the best seasons for myself. I have always been working hard to try to get a place in the team. I think being a more regular player this season has made me feel more important."

The 28-year-old had hoped his father would be at Wembley to see him face Wigan in Saturday's FA Cup final but Jorge Zabaleta, who was in a coma after a motorcycle accident in 2011, will not be present.

"He is not coming to the game," the City defender said. "Some friends from Spain will come to see it."

Zabaleta has warned City to be wary of Wigan, even though they are in the bottom three of the Premier League.

He said: "I think it is also a great opportunity for them to play their first FA Cup final ever and win it, so we need to focus on that game. We need to keep working. We have worked very well this week to make sure we can stop them."

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