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The 25-year-old is prepared to do battle with the Ghanaian for a place in the Madrid midfield, and he admits Barcelona's early lead will be tough to recover.

Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira believes that he is still a key part of Jose Mourinho's squad despite the summer signing of Michael Essien.

The Germany international has not been a first-team regular in the Spanish capital since the arrival of Essien from Chelsea, but he still feels he has much to offer to the reigning Liga champions.

"The coach does not have a bad opinion of me, it is still clear that I remain a part of the staff of this team. I want to show that he can continue to count on me," Khedira told AS.

The 25-year-old has had to contend with stiff competition in the midfield ever since his move to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2010, and he does not see this season as any different to the previous two he has been involved with at the club.

"We've always had four or five defensive midfielders in recent years," Khedira said. "This season we Xabi Alonso, Essien and me."

Mourinho's team has struggled for consistency this season, and Khedira believes the eight-point gap Barcelona currently holds at the top of the league will be difficult to claw back. The two meet in the first Clasico of the league season next weekend.

"Lifting the Supercopa against Barcelona was a good sign, but the league is a different competition and we have been left behind," Khedira said.

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