Vincent Kompany is convinced Manchester City have the mental fortitude required to win the Premier League this season, insisting he and his team-mates are "not affected" by the pressure of the title race.
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City's 1-0 defeat at Everton on Tuesday allowed rivals Manchester United to move level on points with them at the top of the league table, with Roberto Mancini's side only ahead on goal difference.
But club captain Kompany insists he is unworried by City's concession of ground to the Red Devils and third-placed Tottenham, with the Belgium defender confident of the team's ability to respond.
"If there is one thing I know about our team it is that we are mentally strong,'' Kompany said. "We have been living with this pressure for the past three and a half years, and it has not affected us.
"If anything it will give us a boost to carry on and if people want to underestimate us, then please do so.''
The game at Goodison Park marked Kompany's return to the City team after a four-game suspension following his red card in the 3-2 FA Cup third-round defeat to United last month.
In the defender's absence, the team managed to win twice in the league but were beaten over two legs by Liverpool in the Carling Cup semi-final.
With the Everton loss included, it has been a frustrating period for Kompany, but he is feeling optimistic about what lies ahead and - with the visit of Fulham to Eastlands coming up in the league on Saturday - eager to push on.
"It's not been enjoyable but I have been looking at the team and still feel that we have done a good job,'' Kompany said. "Now we have to look forward, and looking forward I see good things for us, and that is what is important.
"I have always said about our team that we always bounce back very well, and if for some reason you are not lucky and lose a game - giving due credit to Everton - you just have to carry on. On another day we would have won the game.
"My role now is to say to the guys that this one is over, and it's on to the next game, and a clean sheet. We start from the beginning again. There is no shame in going under at Everton. It wasn't enjoyable, but we believe we can go back to our best football and win the games that are left to play.''