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Blues up for battle - Stuart.

Byline: By Colin Tattum OUR MAN AT BLUES

STUART Parnaby today stressed Blues were hell-bent on bettering themselves - despite being on a seven-match unbeaten run.

The defender, who has just returned to the side after injury, said Blues had developed a winning mentality and were not bothered if they had to continue to scrap their way out of the Championship.

Blues are on 47 points as they prepare for the game that marks the halfway stage, Saturday's 5.20pm trip to Preston North End.

That's the best return at this stage in this division since 1902-03, when Blues had won 15 of their matches and were chasing Manchester City and holding off Woolwich Arsenal.

"Getting back to the Premier League is a big, big thing for us," Parnaby told the Birmingham Mail.

"I don't think we're settling for what's happened recently though the seven-game unbeaten run. We want to be better and play better, and that's the way it should be.

"Everyone wants to be at the top of their game and flying - and we're not there yet.

"And even if we were beating teams 3-0 and 4-0, I still think we wouldn't be satisfied, we'd want more.

"There is a winning mentality in this team. We don't want to be settling for draws. The lads showed that at Plymouth Argyle.

"It was difficult for us, we know, but we came through and got another three points.

That's the mindset we have and you've got to have."

Parnaby, who happily ended up at left-back in the last two matches, said he understood fans wanted slick football, with Blues contemptuously brushing aside all comers with no problem at all.

But it doesn't happen like that in the Championship, the former Middlesbrough product said.

"It's high pressure every game, you can't rest and just pass it around and have two or three touches.

"Most teams, when they don't have the ball, are right at you and then they get it forward quickly.

"Sometimes we have to play the percentage game as well.

"I think when it comes to the big matches, we have the type of players in the team who are suited to them. They've played most of their career in the Premier League and rise to the occasion. We did at Wolves. But in the scrappy matches, we need to battle it out as well and I think we've been doing that recently.

"When teams play us, Wolves and Reading, it's like a cup final. As it was at Plymouth. You've got to be able to handle that first before you can play the way you want to."

Parnaby, a UEFA Cup finalist with Boro, added: "We have penned teams in this season, they haven't been able to get out of their own half.

"That's the kind of stuff we know we can play. But you can't do it all the time in the Championship - no team can.

"That's what we'd like to do, of course, and keep it up for longer periods. We need to be more consistent, sustain our dominance and stay on top. But I still think we're getting better and better, and there's a big determination there to improve."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Dec 11, 2008
Words:533
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