Tag Archives: barnet

Saracens and Ulster Heineken Cup quarter-final at Twickenham

Twickenham to host Heineken Cup quarter-final between Saracens and Ulster

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

13:05 GMT, 30 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

15:57 GMT, 30 January 2013

Saracens have announced their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster on April 6 will be played at Twickenham.

The Aviva Premiership club's new Allianz Park home, complete with its artificial playing surface, had been mooted as a possible venue.

Bumper crowd: Saracens will host Ulster at Twickenham in April

Bumper crowd: Saracens will host Ulster at Twickenham in April

But club chairman Nigel Wray told Saracens' official website today that the game will be staged at Twickenham.

'We look forward to playing this important match at the home of English rugby, a ground that many of our players know extremely well,' Wray said.

'It is absolutely clear that people want to see big teams playing big matches at big stadiums, and that is precisely what we will deliver at Twickenham.

Happy memories: Sarries won the Aviva Premiership title at HQ in 2011

Happy memories: Sarries won the Aviva Premiership title at HQ in 2011

'We did consider the option of playing this showpiece match at Allianz Park, our brand new home stadium in NW4, but, in consultation with local residents and our partners at the London Borough of Barnet, we have decided to settle at the new venue before applying to stage a one-off event with a larger capacity.'

Harlequins will host Munster at their Twickenham Stoop home the following day, with the quarter-final line-up completed by Leicester visiting Toulon and Clermont Auvergne hosting Montpellier.

Edgar Davids – The Footballers Football Column: Players are predators that"s why Benitez may struggle at Chelsea

EDGAR DAVIDS: Players are predators that's why Benitez may struggle at Chelsea… And sometimes the best players are not the most talented – just look at Roy Keane

/12/20/article-2251180-169642D2000005DC-858_196x175.jpg” width=”196″ height=”175″ alt=”Edgar Davids” class=”blkBorder” />

Edgar Davids today launches a new series of columns for Sportsmail titled The Footballers' Football Column. They're about the game, written by people involved in the game.
European champion Davids has won 11 major trophies (and we mean 'major', we're not counting Super Cups and Community Shield-type trophies). He was capped 74 times for Holland. Now player-manager at League Two Barnet, 'The Pitbull' has plenty to say…

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Who are you People chant it at stadiums – 'Who are ya Who are ya' – but I think it’s a funny thing to sing, even to the opposite team, because what are they actually asking

Ask most people and they will say their name or profession, but you have to know who you are, both physically and mentally. It’s really important in football, because then you know your trigger points, how to adapt and improve.

It’s one of the first things I do when I start working with players, especially the younger ones.

Post man: A 19-year-old Davids defending the near post for Ajax in November 1992

Post man: A 19-year-old Davids defending the near post for Ajax in November 1992. It was at Ajax he played on with serious dental work

As a footballer, for example, sometimes you have pain. But
is it pain you can play with, or will playing only make it worse I
think more than 70 per cent of players play with injuries.

They always have something wrong with
them. I can’t even remember playing a game without pain. People don’t
see the determination behind getting on the pitch every week.

If your manager needs you to play it’s like: 'Yes sir, I will play.'

I remember at Ajax getting a kick in
my face and when I touched my mouth for the first time I couldn’t feel
any teeth. I had almost about 40 injections and braces and the next day I
went in for training.

The manager wanted me back the following Sunday and that was it. Get on with it.

I know myself, so that’s the main
thing. Visually, my trademarks have always been my glasses and hair. My
knowledge of myself hasn't changed much over the years.

You need to develop and stay ahead of
the competition. Being a coach now, you see some young guys who don’t
know themselves – but they think they do.

Some of them really in believe in the
hype. When they’re asked who they are, they would say 'a football
player'. They believe all the hype that comes with that.

That's why I can understand people thinking Arsene Wenger should bring back Thierry Henry to Arsenal. If you have a young team, you also need guys to guide them.

With Thierry, he’s a charismatic
person and he was Arsenal’s team leader for a long time. He knows the
dressing room and how the club works.

Pain game: Davids, 39, suffers an arm injury during Barnet's draw at Exeter last weekend

Pain game: Davids, 39, suffers an arm injury during Barnet's draw at Exeter last weekend

It’s very important to have someone
like that, who isn’t a coach or an assistant manager, because most of
the time, the coaches have got to keep a professional distance from the
players.

If you look at a player like Roy
Keane you would say: 'He’s a great player but you don’t see the
leadership and the energy he transmitted to the team which make him a
world class player.

You can’t measure that. Sometimes the
best players are not the most talented, but what they do for your team
is very, very valuable: they help your team keep its shape, desire and
discipline and they know their limitations.

King Henry: Thierry scores to make it 7-1 to Arsenal against Blackburn last February. His worth to Arsenal is more than just goals

King Henry: Thierry scores to make it 7-1 to Arsenal against Blackburn last February. His worth to Arsenal is more than just goals

Keen on Keane: Manchester United's former captain, here clashing with Arsenal's Patrick Vieira in 1991, was not the greatest talent but was a top, top player

Keen on Keane: Manchester United's former captain, here clashing with Arsenal's Patrick Vieira in 1991, was not the greatest talent but was a top, top player

THE NEXT FOOTBALLERS' FOOTBALL COLUMN…

Tomorrow: Mad Dog Martin Allen – Did I dive 'Course I did…

Then you have players who are
brilliantly gifted but, if they’re having a bad day, it’s like playing
with 10 men. If he’s on fire, it’s like playing with 12, so you have to
take that risk because he’s that good.

In south America it’s different – if
you’re that good they’ll just leave you be – but, in Holland, we have
been taught that everybody has to be the same.

My philosophy is a little bit
different. If the group accepted it, I did too. Is this how I want to
play, or not You have to be flexible, but you can only be flexible if
you know yourself.

Football players can be like predators.
They will study you. They will try to find your weakness. It’s ego. The
guys who are not playing will watch you like hawks. They will be on
your case because they all want to play in their position no matter who
the coach is.

If a player or a coach is under
pressure and the others think he is going to leave there is only brief
respect. That could be hard for Rafa Benitez, for example.

Captain, leader, Pitbull: Barnet player/manager Edgar Davids makes his point to referee Christopher Sarginson at half-time during the 2-2 draw at Exeter last Saturday

Captain, leader, Pitbull: Barnet player/manager Edgar Davids makes his point to referee Christopher Sarginson at half-time during the 2-2 draw at Exeter last Saturday

The main man: Davids (centre) has been installed as the solo head coach at Underhill after Mark Robson (left) departed the club. Director of football Paul Fairclough is seated (right)

The main man: Davids (centre) has been installed as the solo head coach at Underhill after Mark Robson (left) departed the club. Director of football Paul Fairclough is seated (right)

I don’t know what the dynamics are at
Chelsea, but if everyone knows a manager is only going to be there for
six months it’s very hard.

We have a saying: 'New round, new
chances'. That’s why you usually see an immediate improvement when a new
manager comes in, because that little game is starting again.

Football is very passionate,
of course it is, but it’s also a business. As a player, you want to
improve, you want to have a certain salary, play in the position you
want to play and maybe have a shot at a championship or play in the
Champions League.

You don’t think about playing in a
different shirt in front of different fans. It’s more about wanting to
go somewhere at the top and improve yourself. It’s a short career, after
all. But if you play for certain teams with certain fans winning and
high in the hierarchy is living the dream.

UEFA Champions League Final, Vienna, Austria, 24th May 1995, Ajax 1 v AC Milan 0, Frank Rijkaard (centre) and team-mate Edgar Davids hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their victory

Torres warning: The Chelsea striker, in action during the 5-1 demolition of Leeds, must score more goals according to Davids

Show us your medals: Davids lifts the 1995 Champions League trophy with Frank Ri9jkarrd at Ajax and Torres (right) in action during the 5-1 Capital One Cup demolition of Leeds, needs to score more goals

Money often plays its part in
football. If you’re the best player but you’re not paid the best wages,
you can feel and can be seen lower in the hierarchy and that’s a pride
thing.

If you’re the best player you want to
be paid the best wages. It’s not necessarily about the money but it’s
about feeling appreciated and your skills and worth recognised. Titles
and a reflective wage is relevant is all businesses and industries.

Look at Fernando Torres at Chelsea.
He joined the club and he sat on the bench, but he still earned his
money and got a Champions League winner's medal. Would he have been
happy No.

He’s a good player but he hasn’t
scored too many goals for Chelsea. Now he’s doing better but he’s a
striker: he’s got to score more goals. He would definitely want to be a
more dominant force for his side than he currently is.

TOMORROW'S FOOTBALLERS' FOOTBALL COLUMN: MAD DOG MARTIN ALLEN – DIVE 'COURSE I DID

Edgar Davids in sole charge of Barnet after Mark Robson is sacked

Over to you, Edgar: Holland legend Davids in sole charge of Barnet after Robson is axed

|

UPDATED:

15:41 GMT, 28 December 2012

Edgar Davids has been handed control of League Two Barnet after Mark Robson was sacked by the club today.

The former Holland international remains the club's Head Coach, and is now in sole charge of first team affairs.

The 39-year-old former Champions League winner was given the number 38 shirt after joining Underhill in October and replaces Robson who only arrived at the club in June this year.

I'm in charge: Davids will be responsible for all first-team matters after Robson was sacked

I'm in charge: Davids will be responsible for all first-team matters after Robson was sacked

A club statement read: 'Barnet FC can today confirm that Mark Robson has left his duties as Joint Head Coach at the club.

'It was felt that clarification was
required regarding the coaching responsibilities at the club and to this
end it was agreed that Mark should leave with immediate effect.

'Edgar Davids will continue in his role as Head Coach and will take full responsibility for all first team footballing matters.

'The club would like to thank Mark for all his efforts and hard work and wish him the very best for the future.'

How Nolberto Solano convinced Harrogate Town goalkeeper Mark Cook to move to Peru

From Harrogate to Peru… How Nobby Solano lured Mark Cook to a land of beaches, jungles and needles in unspeakable places!

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 25 December 2012

Think of the more peculiar transfers in British football over the past 12 months, and Barnet signing Edgar Davids or Robert Earnshaw going on loan from Cardiff to Maccabi Tel Aviv might spring to mind.

But it’s fair to say the deal that saw Mark Cook, a goalkeeper with non-league Harrogate Town, join the biggest club in Peru takes some beating.

The link in this rather unlikely scenario is Nolberto Solano, the former Newcastle United midfielder, who until recently was manager of Club Universitario de Deportes, Peru’s most successful team and one that fills its 80,000-capacity Estadio Monumental for local derbies in Lima.

Tall order: Mark Cook is not certain he will stay in Peru

Tall order: Mark Cook is not certain he will stay in Peru

Solano knew Cook from his time as reserve-team keeper at Newcastle and a brief spell together at Hartlepool. Still, moving to South America was the last thing on Cook’s mind when he received a call while training at a gym in Newcastle in July.

'Nobby was in Peru,’ he recalls. ‘He was looking for a goalkeeper and wanted to know my situation. He said it was a hot country with nice beaches, nice weather and nice food. I thought, “that’ll do me!” ‘Obviously I was bit anxious about what Peru was going to be like — I knew absolutely nothing about Peruvian football — but I said yes straightaway even before I’d asked my girlfriend.

'Harrogate are a brilliant club but I wanted to be playing full-time football again.’ Within a month the 24-year-old Geordie had swapped the Blue Square Bet North for Peru’s Primera Division. However, even though Solano and his friends had taken care of the paperwork, they forgot to warn Cook about what to expect at the airport.

A far away land: Cook training with Nobby Solano in Peru

A far away land: Cook training with Nobby Solano in Peru

'Nobby’s very famous in Peru and knows everyone in Lima,’ says Cook, who played under Shay Given and Steve Harper at Newcastle. ‘So some guy tapped me on the shoulder and took me through passport control and customs. Visa stamped, straight through.

'But when I came out of the doors I was surrounded by about 40 reporters. I couldn’t see a thing because there were that many flashes.

'At Harrogate the most media attention I got was from the club’s website guy and one or two local papers.’

It was a similar story when Cook accompanied two of his new teammates to a signing session at a supermarket in Lima.

‘It was crazy. There were thousands of fans surrounding me and the other lads. I had to escorted back to the car by eight security guards which I found weird.’ North Shields-born Cook made his debut in front of 35,000 in a 1-0 defeat to Sport Huancayo at the beginning of September, the first of two Primera Division appearances for Universitario. The second, away to Cobresol, taught him what it was like to play at altitude.

A new start: Cook shows off his Universitario shirt

A new start: Cook shows off his Universitario shirt

‘It’s hard to breathe and the ball moves around really quickly because the air’s thinner,’ says Cook. ‘If you play outside Lima it’s like going to a different country. One time we landed and had to drive three hours through desert, another it was through a jungle.

AND HE’S NOT THE ONLY BRIT TO GO ON AN ADVENTURE…

ROHAN RICKETTS

After spells at Arsenal, Tottenham and Wolves, Ricketts embarked on a world tour in 2009, taking in clubs in Canada, Hungary, Moldova, Germany and Ireland before moving to Dempo SC in the Indian I-League in August.

GRANT HOLT

The Norwich frontman has spent most of his career at various English clubs, but in 2001 he made a brief trip to the far east. Holt signed for Singapore side Sengkang Marine before returning to play for Barrow.

LEE HENDRIE

Hendrie made his name playing in midfield for Aston Villa. But after a series of short spells at clubs in the midlands, he moved to Bandung in the Liga Primer Indonesia.

JLLOYD-SAMUEL

After playing for Aston Villa, Bolton and Cardiff, the 31-year-old signed for Esteghlal in the Iranian Pro League.

TERRY COOKE

After struggling to break through at Man Utd, Cooke moved to Manchester City before finding success in the MLS playing for Colorado Rapids. In 2010, he teamed up with manager Tony Adams at Azerbaijan club Gabala.

NICKY BUTT

The former Man Utd and Newcastle midfielder headed to Hong Kong in 2010, signing for South China FC.

ROBERT EARNSHAW

After falling out of favour at Cardiff, the Wales striker joined Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv on loan in September 2012.

PAUL IFILL

The former Millwall man plays his football in New Zealand. The 33-year-old left Crystal Palace and signed for Wellington Phoenix in July 2009.

The fans are the best I’ve seen and that’s saying something coming from Newcastle.
'Every game they sing for 90 minutes non-stop, jumping up and down behind the goal, setting off flares and banging their drums.

'Until then, the biggest crowd I’d played in front of was 4,000 for Newcastle reserves.’ Universitario finished the regular season in mid-table but faded after the Primera Division split into two separate leagues for the last 14 games.

'They make the rules up as they go along, to be honest with you,’ says Cook.

'I played about six or seven games altogether including friendlies but I only played twice for the first-team before injuring my finger which meant I couldn’t train for two or three weeks.

'As soon as you get any kind of injury they stick an injection in your bum to make you better. Every time. I don’t know what it was. If you were tired, they stuck a needle in your bum. To be fair, the next day you felt brilliant.’

It was after an exhibition game against fierce rivals Alianza Lima in Miami earlier this month that Solano told his players he might be leaving the club. Shortly after returning to Peru, he was gone.

Solano’s departure has cast doubt over Cook’s future at Universitario. He has flown home to the north-east for Christmas unsure whether he will go back for the new season which starts in February.

'I was massively shocked when Nobby went,’ says Cook. ‘He pulled them out of trouble because they were second bottom and struggling, and then all of a sudden it came out that he wasn’t going to be there any more. I’m not sure if he got sacked or he walked away.

'I still have year left on my contract but they’ve got a new manager in now so I need to speak with him and find out what their plans are for me.

'I’m just enjoying Christmas with my family and then we’ll see what happens.’ Cook and his girlfriend Sarah are already missing their 14th floor apartment in the upmarket area of Miraflores, just two minutes’ walk from the beach.

'I always wanted to be a footballer and I thought I would play in the Football League but nothing massive. It never crossed my mind I’d end up in a place like that in Peru.’

James Beattie enjoying fresh start at Accrington

EXCLUSIVE: Former Southampton and Everton striker Beattie enjoying fresh start at Accrington

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UPDATED:

09:03 GMT, 16 November 2012

'Two boys talking in the famous Milk Marketing Board TV advert of 1989: ‘Milk Urrrggh!’

‘It’s what Ian Rush drinks. He says if I don’t drink lots of milk, when I grow up I’ll only be good enough to play for Accrington Stanley.’

‘Accrington Stanley Who are they’

‘Exactly!’

There are many reasons why James Beattie finds himself in the unlikely surroundings of Accrington Stanley at the moment, but forgetting to drink his milk is not one of them.

A bust-up with Tony Pulis at Stoke, an injury at Rangers, the death of his father while Beattie was on loan at Blackpool and an ill-timed red card at Sheffield United have all contributed to a player who once commanded more than 15million in transfer fees pitching up at the 5,000-capacity Crown Ground, just a few miles from where he was brought up in East Lancashire.

Scroll down for memorable milk advert video…

New start: Beattie (right) with Accrington boss Leam Richardson

New start: Beattie (right) with Accrington boss Leam Richardson

When he was asked by his old Blackburn Rovers team-mate Leam Richardson to help out as player-coach at the League Two club last week, 34-year-old Beattie was only too happy to oblige.

He is one of a number of ex-Premier League players forced to drop down the divisions just to get a game these days.

Tonight the former England striker is in line to make his debut against Edgar Davids at Barnet. Just along the road from Accrington at Fleetwood Town, Barry Ferguson has also popped up in English football's fourth tier.

Beattie recently offered to join Swindon on a pay-as-you-play basis. They said no.

'No offence, but Swindon!' he says. 'The market is dead at the moment. There are so many pros out of a job.

'I know that even people within football say I don't want to play any more. They can think what they want, that's totally wrong. I won't stop because I've been knocked back by a few clubs. As long as I've got that spark to get out of bed in the morning and play football, I will pursue it.

'You're just waiting for somebody to give you a chance. It's a little bit like starting again.

'Realistically, I know I could hold my own at Championship level. The Premier League is probably gone but you never know – I'm a proven goalscorer at that level.

'It's just the match sharpness, which is exactly why I've gone to Accrington.'

Fresh start: James Beattie

Beattie has signed a contract until January 9 and will also help Richardson, even though he previously had few plans to go into coaching.

He remembers the slope on Accrington's pitch from schoolboy cup finals he played there as a teenager. The club have moved on, though, no longer known simply for that TV advert and the two little boys from Liverpool who had never heard of Accrington Stanley.

These days most of the players are from Merseyside and support Everton, as Beattie found out en route to his first training session.

'We were training at my old school,' says the former 6m Everton signing. 'I was following a car full of our lads up the M65 but they missed the turn-off, came off at the next junction and got back on.

'It was only later when they were laughing their heads off at training that they explained it was because the driver had Googled me on his iPhone and was watching my goals for Everton!

'They're saying, “We can't believe Beattie's here”. It's given them a bit of a lift as well. But I've told Leam I want to fight for my place, otherwise it's not fair on the other lads.

'There were a few raised eyebrows when I came in for the game on Saturday. We used to play cup finals at Accy Stanley when I was 14 or 15, and a couple of the older guys have said it's nice to see me. I'm on hardly anything but I'll give the lads my time and put everything I've got into it.

Target man: Beattie has scored goals

Target man: Beattie has scored more than 100 goals

'I was driving over the other morning for my first session and I was excited. That tells me it's the right thing to do. A football club is a unique environment.Many ex-pros miss going in and having the banter. There are a lot of ex-footballers around where I live in Cheshire. I see people like Graeme Souness and they say, “Keep playing as long as you can because you're a long time retired”.

'I'm sure Edgar Davids doesn't need to play football. Why would he be playing for Barnet Because he loves football. Barry Ferguson's another. When it's in your blood, it's in your blood.'

Beattie has been largely out of the spotlight since he left Stoke just over two years ago.

Legal reasons prevent him from talking about the well-publicised dressing-room clash with Pulis in December 2009 which hastened his departure, and a fresh start in Scotland was cut short by injury.

/11/15/article-2233642-03EEE827000005DC-243_634x552.jpg” width=”634″ height=”552″ alt=”National service: Beattie played for England” class=”blkBorder” />

National service: Beattie played five times for England

Just when Beattie looked to be finding his feet at Sheffield United last season, a sending-off against Exeter City cost him a place in the League One play-offs and, he believes, the chance of a contract.

He tried his luck across town at Sheffield Wednesday but a few weeks' training came to nothing. 'They said it was probably to do with the budget but a couple of days later they went and signed Jay Bothroyd and subsidised 25,000-a-week wages!' he says. 'I thought, “I'm a big boy, if you don't want to sign me just tell me”.'

Beattie doesn't need the money. The former Southampton striker has bought a house in Poole and is about to move back to the south coast with wife Sarah and their three children, sons James and George and baby daughter Halle.

One of his other business interests is to act as mentor to young players represented by his agent James Featherstone.

'They don't always get the right advice,' he says. ' “Don't be dazzled by the lights” is one of my favourites because a lot of them do. They don't know how lucky they are to be in that position. You can't abuse the fact you're earning good money.

'Your career earnings should go up and then tail off a bit, but when you retire it's a cliff face. Your salary from football doesn't just slow down, it stops.

'I've been lucky with the people I've had around me. I've got other things in place that can sustain my lifestyle for the rest of my life. I'm not going to say I didn't have fun, but I could retire if I wanted to – I just don't want to.'

VIDEO: Accrington Stanley, who are they EXACTLY!

DM.has('rcpv1972664244001','BCVideo');

Edgar Davids swears live on TV

I'm f******* Edgar Davids! Barnet midfielder casually swears live on Sky… and who's going to argue with him

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UPDATED:

13:46 GMT, 11 November 2012

Edgar Davids upset Sky producers but delighted Twitter users with a slip of the tongue during Goals on Sunday.

'I'm f****** Edgar Davids,' declared Barnet's Dutch midfielder and joint-manager while appearing as a guest on the Sky Sports 1 football highlights show.

Scroll down for video

Who's going to argue Edgar Davids (left), next to Ian Wright, swore on live TV

Who's going to argue Edgar Davids (left), next to Ian Wright, swore on live TV

Oops: Ben Shephard and Chris Kamara looked surprised

Oops: Ben Shephard and Chris Kamara looked surprised

OTHER TV GAFFES

Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel leave David Coulthard red faced

Freddie Ljungberg swears on Match of the Day 2

And a classic…

In 1992 Paul Gascoigne was asked on Scandinavian TV if he had a message for Norway.

'Yes,' the enigmatic England player replied. 'F*** off Norway'.

Much mirth was had on the social network
at Davids' error – the midfielder has a legendary status in the game
and few would argue with anything he says.

'Edgar Davids, what a beast!' exclaimed one person, while another said he was 'one cool cat'.

Ben Shephard and Chris Kamara who host the programme both apologised for the bad language which came about when Davids was asked how he wound up at League Two Barnet.

Shephard said: 'You were training at a Sunday League side in Brixton… how did the opportunity to play for Barnet come about'

Davids explained: 'I was living in Barnet and a friend of mine played Sunday League also and they asked me to play a game.'

He
continued: 'I went there and I was OK and in the second half I was
sitting on the bench for five minutes… and you know what… I'm
fucking Edgar Davids!'

After
the apologies Davids explained how after that he had been called up by
the Barnet chairman and he paid the club a visit before deciding to
sign.

When Davids joined Barnet were rock bottom and although they still languish 23rd have only lost once in the last five games.

One cool cat: Davids' slip of the tongue was enjoyed by many

One cool cat: Davids' slip of the tongue was enjoyed by many

**Contains strong language**

Tom Huddlestone vows to grow his until he scores again

Hair we go! Huddlestone vows to grow his barnet until he scores again

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UPDATED:

11:54 GMT, 2 November 2012

Hair-raising: Huddlestone

Hair-raising: Huddlestone

When Tom Huddlestone vowed last year not to cut his hair again until he scored he must not have envisaged a 19-month goal drought. But that is exactly what has ensued.

In fairness, the Tottenham midfielder has been injured for the vast majority of the time since his last strike against Arsenal in April 2011, but he has kept to his promise nonetheless.

During his battle to regain fitness following ankle surgery Huddlestone has turned his afro into a weapon for charity as he aims to raise 75,000 for Cancer Research.

Huddlestone has so far raised 11,000, and although he is back playing regularly for Spurs, he says he'd happily let his hair keep growing provided Andre Villas-Boas' side finish in the top four.

'I won’t mind if I end up with hair down by my hips if we make it back into the Champions League next May,' the 25-year-old told the Daily Mirror.

'It started out as just a bit of banter with my mates, but although I’ve got more than a year’s growth up there, I won’t cut my hair until I score.

'I thought I would be back for the last three months of the season, and any growth would be manageable, but I suffered a setback towards the end of my rehab and it’s spilled over into this season.

Back in action: Huddlestone is back in the Spurs first-team

Back in action: Huddlestone is back in the Spurs first-team

'To make sure I stuck to my promise, I set up a page for Cancer Research and a lot of people have been kind enough to donate.

'I lost my grandad, and a few family friends, to cancer, and fortunately I’m not too concerned with the way I look at the minute.

'But if I play regularly and stay fit, I would expect to score at least once between now and the end of the season – and the barber will need a large pair of scissors.'

Huddlestone earned himself three England caps in the build up to the 2010 World Cup and just missed out on Fabio Capello's squad to go to South Africa.

Two injury-ravaged seasons have since set Huddlestone's progress back, but injuries to Mousa Dembele and Scott Parker have given him a chance in Villas-Boas's starting XI and the ex-Derby man is delighted to be back in the thick of the action and the think Spurs can finish in the top four.

Distant memory: Huddlestone drills home his last goal - against Arsenal in April 2011

Distant memory: Huddlestone drills home his last goal – against Arsenal in April 2011

'I like to think the top four will be our natural habitat as a club. We’ve been to the Champions League before, we’re aiming high again and it’s good to be back,' he added.

'Basically I’ve lost nearly 18 months of my career to injury at a time when I should be coming into my prime,' said Huddlestone.

'I had half-cemented a place in the team, we had finished fourth under Harry Redknapp and we were going well in the Champions League when I first picked up the ankle injury, and it was the start of a long struggle.

'Last year was a write-off and a nightmare, especially watching the lads do so well up until February, when they were in with a chance of the title, and then not being able to help out when results dipped a bit.

'Luckily, since we reported back for pre-season, I’ve been fully fit and I’ve enjoyed being involved with the boys again.

'Benni is the main man for Afros at this club, but he’s probably got two or three years’ growth there – I hope it doesn’t take me that long to score a goal.'

Jason Puncheon says the Southampton dressing room is right behind Nigel Adkins

Adkins the right man to lead Saints' fight for Premier League survival, says Puncheon

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UPDATED:

11:34 GMT, 26 October 2012

Jason Puncheon believes Southampton will escape a Barclays Premier League relegation struggle this season – and Nigel Adkins is the right manager to help them do it.

The odds on Adkins becoming the first Premier League managerial casualty shortened at the weekend after a 4-1 defeat at West Ham, with the manager himself admitting he was feeling the pressure.

But right-wing flyer Puncheon says the dressing room has full confidence in the man who guided the club to back-to-back promotions.

Right man for the job: Jason Puncheon believes manager Nigel Adkins can lead Southampton to Premier League safety

Right man for the job: Jason Puncheon believes manager Nigel Adkins can lead Southampton to Premier League safety

‘Of course, there’s always going to be speculation when you’ve started the season a little slowly but this is a manager who has guided the club back to the Premier League and he’s focused on the job he needs to do,’ said Puncheon.

‘The players feel the same and we all support him. We’ve got to get on with the games, work hard and start picking up the points.’

As someone who has played and scored in all four divisions of the Football League, Puncheon is well placed to judge why Southampton have only collected one win and four points so far.

‘The main difference is that you get punished for your mistakes,’ says the former MK Dons, Barnet, Millwall and Blackpool man.

‘Against the best teams in the league, they’re away and racing up the field if you don’t keep the ball. You have to learn to stop them.

‘It’s definitely as tough as we expected as players. The results have not been going our way so far this season but remember that we have started out by playing three of the top clubs in Man City, Man United and Arsenal.’

Thick of It: Puncheon challenges George McCartney for the ball during Southampton's 4-1 defeat at West Ham last weekend

Thick of It: Puncheon challenges George McCartney for the ball during Southampton's 4-1 defeat at West Ham last weekend

This Sunday brings another challenging match against Tottenham, a side with top four aspirations, but Puncheon’s confidence has been boosted by the award of his first Premier League goal for Southampton – albeit a few weeks late.

The Dubious Goals Panel was called in to investigate the third goal in Southampton’s 4-1 win against Aston Villa in September, with Puncheon getting the benefit of the doubt.

‘I knew all along it was my goal and I don’t know why it had to be referred,’ he said. ‘Steven Gerrard scored a similar one and mine was much more clear-cut than his.

‘It was nice to get off the mark in this Premier League campaign and hopefully it will be the first of many.’

Survivor: Puncheon (left), seen here chasing West Ham's Mark Noble, has experience of playing in all four divisions of the Football League

Survivor: Puncheon (left), seen here chasing West Ham's Mark Noble, has experience of playing in all four divisions of the Football League

Puncheon has strong views on the issues currently splitting football and called for affirmative action to address the disparity in punishments for racist and other incidents.

‘I believe strongly that the punishments are not valid,’ he said. ‘The punishments for racism have just not been strong enough. Regardless of the seriousness of the offence, it always seems to be a 30,000 fine.

‘You can’t justify something like that when Ashley Cole gets a 90,000 fine for going on Twitter and writing ‘Bunch of T***s’.

Puncheon has had his own problems with Twitter in the past, having criticised Saints chairman Nicola Cortese on the social networking site for wanting to sell him, and believes it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

‘The players are more and more in the limelight and Twitter just leaves them open to problems,’ said Puncheon. ‘There are all kinds of possible controversies from the Cole thing to a player tweeting something when out in a restaurant with their wife when they shouldn’t be.

‘People watch it all the time and it can give you problems and it gives people a platform to abuse you and some players react to that.

‘I got racist abuse all the time – not everyone who tweets you is a fan. You’re giving people a chance to air their opinions, whatever they are.’

The Barclays Premier League is the most watched domestic football competition in the world reaching 640 million homes in over 200 countries. Barclays has sponsored the league since 2001. To find out more go to facebook/barclaysfootball

Edgar Davids makes Barnet debut in Northampton win

Dutch legend Davids impresses on debut for Barnet as Bees thump Northampton

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UPDATED:

00:20 GMT, 20 October 2012

Dutch legend Edgar Davids pulled his boots back on to lead bottom of League Two Barnet to their first win of the season on Friday night.

The 39-year-old, who had registered as a player when he signed on as assistant to help out manager Mark Robson, showed he'd lost none of the passing and vision that was the hallmark of his 74 caps and a stellar club career with Ajax, Milan, Juventus and Spurs. His performance was impressive enough for him to be named man-of-the-match.

On the ball: Davids pulled his boots back on to lead Barnet to their first victory of the campaign

On the ball: Davids pulled his boots back on to lead Barnet to their first victory of the campaign

Catch me if you can: Davids celebrates Andrew Yiadom's strike for the home team

Catch me if you can: Davids celebrates Andrew Yiadom's strike for the home team

Barnet, who had taken only three points from 12 games before Friday night's clash, responded to beat Northampton with goals from Krystian Pearce, Andrew Yiadom, John Oster and Anthony Edgar in a thumping 4-0 victory.

Speaking after the game, Davids said: 'I feel the man-of-the-match belongs to the whole group because it was a team effort.

'We saw that they really had a lot of energy and I’m proud of them because the tactical things we worked on all week they executed them.

Looking good: Davids was named man-of-the-match after an impressive performance

Looking good: Davids was named man-of-the-match after an impressive performance

'So I’m proud that they knew what to do because it is hard to digest so much information in a short period of time.

'There were some spells I was happy about and there were some where we definitely can improve. But the agreements we made beforehand they all kept and they executed some things well and we resulted in a win.'

Edgar Davids set for Barnet debut against Northampton

Dutch legend Davids set to make debut for League Two strugglers Barnet against Northampton

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UPDATED:

12:05 GMT, 19 October 2012

Former Holland international Edgar Davids could make his debut for Barnet tonight after the League Two club's new joint heaad coach was registered to play in the home fixture against Northampton.

The 39-year-old former Champions League winner has been given the number 38 shirt as he dusts down his boots to return to first-team action in the less than glamorous surroundings of Underhill.

Dutch of class: Edgar Davids is set to make his debut for League Two strugglers Barnet

Dutch of class: Edgar Davids is set to make his debut for League Two strugglers Barnet

Football League blog

Davids had been out of football since a brief stint at Championship side Crystal Palace in 2010, until joining Mark Robson in the Barnet dug-out last week.

His arrival at the club failed to spark a revival of fortunes for the Bees, as they lost 4-1 to Plymouth last weekend to remain as the bottom team in the Football League.

On standby: Davids watched from the stands as Barnet went down to Plymouth last weekend

On standby: Davids watched from the stands as Barnet went down to Plymouth last weekend