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Etuhu: I want to start

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Dickson Etuhu has stated that, in the absence of midfielder Steve Sidwell, he'd like to claim himself a place in the first eleven - starting with Saturday's tie with Stoke City.

The Nigerian midfielder, signed from Sunderland, played his first game of 2012 for the Whites against Manchester City at the weekend, and while the match may have gone against him, he feels he can push on and win a solidified first team place.

Despite the 3-0 defeat, Etuhu also went on to praise the fans for their commitment to the cause.

"For me it was quite difficult obviously being my first game in a while so I felt it in my legs a little but it's nice to be back involved," Etuhu told

"Our fans were great as always last weekend. We like when they come and support us away from home and we really appreciate it."

Etuhu has been pushed out of the team by a consistent pairing of captain Danny Murphy and partner Steve Sidwell, but with the latter's injury concerns, Etuhu has spotted an opportunity and plans to take it.

"I can build from that [game against City]. Obviously in this week's training I've got to try and push on and get my fitness up but I'm looking forward to the game at home against Stoke. That's probably the more important one for us and hopefully we can get the three points.

"It's always tough when you play Stoke but we believe we can win at home. We're looking to obviously go and win our home games and I'm sure that if we play the way we can we'll do that."