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The England midfielder has fiercely defended his club from criticism and has insisted Roberto Mancini's men do have the "spirit, determination and togetherness" needed

James Milner has hit back at Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen after the Dutchman suggested that Manchester City lack the team spirit required to win the Premier League title.

Meulensteen had claimed that City play as a team of individuals and insisted that Sir Alex Ferguson would not tolerate Mario Balotelli's "antics" at Old Trafford.

Milner, though, feels that City have emerged from their most disappointing spell of the season and pointed to their nearly completed 10 man comeback against United in the FA Cup as proof of the togetherness within the squad.

"Look at the season we have had - and winning the FA Cup last year," Milner told the Manchester Evening News.

"That first trophy as a group was great, and you can look at games this year when we have been losing and shown character and fight.

"Even in the FA Cup game against United, we were a man down and losing heavily at half time. But we came back and could easily have got a draw. I can't see a team of individuals doing that.

"You need that spirit, determination and togetherness to get through the low points of the season, and we have done that."

Milner was an unused substitute as City recorded convincing wins against West Brom and Norwich City after being dropped following the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal but refused to express frustration at being left out of the team.

The 26-year-old was focused on providing leadership in the dressing room even when not in the starting XI and admitted he did not expect to play every match due to the strength of the City squad.

"You want to play with and against the best and become the best player you can be and playing with the kind of players we have here will improve you," Milner said.
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"You need competition for places and I knew it would be difficult to play every single game.

"You have to back your own ability to be a big figure in the dressing room, improve as a player and contribute as much as you can to the success of the team.

"It's frustrating at times because you want to play every game and it's not going to happen. That's your will to win and your drive as a footballer.

"But it's about the team, not individuals. It's about City winning trophies, the rest doesn't matter."

Milner felt that City had improved as a team this season regardless of whether or not they are able to pip United to the Premier League title.

Roberto Mancini's team trail the defending champions by five points, with the two sides set to meet at the Etihad Stadium at the end of April.

"We want to finish the season strongly, to reward our fans for their support," Milner affirmed.

"If that's good enough, great. But if not we have improved as a club and as a team. We are progressing.

"We are playing good football and had a great performance at the weekend. All season we have fought in all competitions, and we will do that until the end."