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By ESPN Staff

Bruce to stay as Birmingham manager

Steve Bruce has given Birmingham a massive boost by pledging to stay with the club next season for their bid to return to the Premiership.

Bruce has ended speculation over his future by telephoning chairman David Gold and co-owner David Sullivan to tell them of his commitment to City for the 2006-2007 campaign.

Bruce was devastated after Blues saw their four-year stay in the top flight ended with relegation last month.

He went away on holiday to Portugal to reflect on his future and has decided to channel all his energy in making a quick fire return to the elite.

Gold told PA Sport: 'Steve telephoned me to say he was staying and I am very pleased with his decision. I never really had any doubts but I think he just needed time to reflect.

'He needed time to dust himself down. I am sure he was feeling the same pain as myself and everyone else about being relegated. It was pretty devastating.

'But now we are all looking onwards and upwards and want to get back into the Premiership as soon as we can.'

Bruce has released nine players but has been told Emile Heskey, Jermaine Pennant and Mikael Forssell do not have to be sold.

Gold said: 'Emile, Jermaine and Mikael do not have to go. Imagine those three and a fit David Dunn and it gives you cause for optimism.

'In this division, those four are a real force as an attacking combination. Then with a bit of luck we will also have Matthew Upson back available around October time.

'We have let a certain number of people go and now we are looking to bring in four or five players.

'The aim is to have a squad which the bookmakers think will be in the top three when they make their assessment in August. If they only rate you as a mid-table side, it is not a good sign.

'What we are also praying for is avoiding another season like this in terms of injuries. I can't believe any club would have two in a row like that.'

Gold admitted it hit him hard when City's relegation was confirmed after they had drawn at home with Newcastle on the penultimate weekend of the season.

He said: 'I was devastated. I went to Bolton for the last game of the season and I was like a cardboard replica.

'Your pride is hurt and I didn't watch any football on television for two weeks.

'But it's all about how you bounce back and I feel better now and am looking forward to the challenges of next season.'