Wayne Bridge feels he has slipped to fifth-choice left-back at Manchester City but remains determined to fight for as long as he can for a place at a club where he now values the close bond he has formed with some of his team-mates.
Manager Roberto Mancini's decision to include 21-year-old Ben Mee in the squad for last Saturday's game at Stoke City has made Bridge, who has started only one Premier League game this season, an even more marginal figure, with the £19m summer signing Aleksandar Kolarov now Mancini's first choice left-back and Pablo Zabaleta, Joleon Lescott and Jerome Boateng all filling the role this season.
But Bridge, who was one of Mark Hughes' first signings at City almost two years ago, is familiar with the struggle for first-team football from his contest with Ashley Cole at Chelsea. He started the season knowing he had a fight on his hands and having wanted to leave Stamford Bridge to escape one comfort zone is understood to feel still ready to battle for a place with Kolarov if he can only be given a fair chance.
Mancini expressed frustration with Bridge's fitness record this week, though the 30-year-old feels he needs time to recover from the hamstring trouble that has affected him, while the City manager did acknowledge that Bridge's problem is purely physical rather than reflective of any recalcitrance.
City appear to be ready to listen to offers next month but Bridge is waiting for them to indicate where they see him fitting into their plans and believes that he has time to raise his performance levels and rescue the situation.