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Javier Garrido praises "special" Carlos Tevez

Javier Garrido has hailed Manchester City colleague Carlos Tevez as "one of the best strikers in the Premier League" and told Soccernet the Argentina star can make the difference in the race for fourth.

• Mancini salutes hat-trick hero

A hat-trick against Wigan Athletic on Monday night means Tevez has scored a remarkable 21 goals in his past 19 appearances for City and the forward has played a key role in the club's challenge for Champions League qualification.

City travel to Burnley at the weekend before then hosting rivals Manchester United at Eastlands. The central figure in that encounter is likely to once again be Tevez, who swapped Old Trafford for Eastlands in the summer and then became embroiled in a very public disagreement with former colleague Gary Neville - a player he labelled a "sock-sucker" following a stormy Carling Cup tie between the two clubs in January.

Only Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba and Darren Bent have scored more goals than Tevez in the league this season and Garrido has been deeply impressed by the impact made by the three-time South American Player of the Year.

"He's showing his class regularly," Garrido told Soccernet. "There are no doubts for me: he's a special player, one of the best strikers in the Premier League.

"He is this kind of player that is helping the team in every game and apart from that he makes the difference."

Victory over Wigan leaves City just two points behind Tottenham in fifth place and, with seven games remaining, the club have renewed hope of returning to the elite of European football for the first time since the 1968-69 season.

City have lost only one of their past eight Premier League games - a 2-0 defeat to Everton at Eastlands - and Garrido has warned City's rivals for a top-four finish that his team are ready to hit their stride in what remains of the season.

"We are fighting to finish among the top four," Garrido said. "I think that the team is growing little by little, so I expect that we can show our best face now, in the most important moment of the season."

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