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By ESPN Staff

Gardner set for crunch clash

Lifelong Birmingham fan Craig Gardner admits he would willingly swap his Carling Cup winners medal for Premier League safety.

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Gardner is facing "the biggest game'' of his career when he returns from suspension for Sunday's clash with Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

Blues are only above the bottom three on goal difference from Blackpool and Wigan, who visit Manchester United and Stoke respectively.

Nine-goal leading scorer Gardner said: "It's a massive game. Everyone wants to play in the Premier League.

"The Carling Cup win was fantastic and it's something we will never forget. To lift a trophy for the fans and the club after so long was fantastic.

"But this game is our career, it's bigger than the cup final and we need to go out there and give it every single ounce for this club.

"On a personal level this has been my first full season at Premier League level and it's been a great season for me. But I'd give up every single goal now just to stay in the league. In fact, I'd give my winners medal back to stay in the league.

"If we end up in the Championship next season, it's a failed season for me. We owe it the fans, we owe it the gaffer (Alex McLeish). everyone owes it each other to go out there and put a performance on.''

Gardner believes a lengthy injury list has taken its toll on City but is confident they can obtain a positive result at White Hart Lane.

He said: "To be honest, the injuries and suspensions have hit us hard in the last few weeks and I think we shouldn't be in this position. But look at West Ham, they've got a great team and they've already been relegated. It just shows you how good this Premier League is at the minute.

"It has been so tight all season and in the last few weeks we've been sucked into it. But we're good enough to get a result on Sunday. We are not going to roll over.

"Everyone has got the same attitude and we are going to go there on Sunday and give it every last little bit.''

Gardner was red carded against Wolves after collecting a second yellow card for allegedly diving and he missed the games with subsequent Newcastle and Fulham.

He said: "I thought it was really harsh. I was diving out of the way really. How many times this season have people been booked for diving in the middle of the park?

"I'm not going to dwell on it now, it's done, and hopefully I can reward the players and reward the fans.

"I owe them a big performance and hopefully Sunday will be the time to show it. I was sitting watching against Fulham last Sunday and I was thinking 'I should be out there.'

"I'm so glad we've still got a chance to stay up and I can actually be on the pitch to do something. I'll be giving my everything, everything last drop to stay in this Premier League.''

Defender Liam Ridgewell will also be available after suspension and McLeish is optimistic striker Cameron Jerome will have recovered from his ankle injury. But doubts persist over the fitness of Lee Bowyer (hamstring) and Martin Jiranek (ankle) and they will have late tests.


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