Tag Archives: veteran

Npower Championship round-up March 5

Bonkers! Championship goes crazy as promotion race hots up with a glut of late goals

By
Janine Self

PUBLISHED:

11:36 GMT, 6 March 2013

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UPDATED:

14:13 GMT, 6 March 2013

So did the world stop for you on Tuesday night Answers on a postcard, addressed to Senor Jose Mourinho, c/o Real Madrid.

The Special One might be slightly surprised to learn that for many the earth continued to revolve around its axis, despite the global marketing pull of a duel with Manchester United.

While 74,759 paying customers crammed into Old Trafford, another 175,547 decided that the npower Championship was the only show in town.

Super Kev: Veteran striker Kevin Phillips netted an eight-minute hat-trick for Crystal Palace on Tuesday night

Super Kev: Veteran striker Kevin Phillips netted an eight-minute hat-trick for Crystal Palace on Tuesday night

The second tier of English football has been even more crazily unpredictable than usual this season and did not disappoint on Tuesday night.

How about Kevin Phillips, 39 years old, and scorer of an eight-minute hat-trick for Crystal Palace in the 4-2 win over Hull

The same Hull who thrashed Birmingham last weekend and who started the night in an automatic promotion place. Steve Bruce’s team are down to third while Palace lurk a point behind.

At fogbound Nottingham Forest, the pre-match chat was all about the second coming of Billy Davies. No mention of Sir Alex Ferguson or Cristiano Ronaldo at all.

Second coming: Forest are making a late charge for the play-offs under Billy Davies

Second coming: Forest are making a late charge for the play-offs under Billy Davies

The force appears to be with Davies. Ipswich had two players sent off and came within four minutes of holding out for a point only to concede to a deflected goal from Lewis McGugan.

Since returning as manager, Davies has drawn one and won the last four games. With that sort of momentum the play-offs are beckoning.

Late goals were the theme of the night at Leicester, Bolton and Huddersfield, too. Just down the road from Old Trafford, Chris Eagles continued Wanderers’ fine run with an added-time winner against Lancashire rivals Blackburn.

Rest assured that none of the 19,063 fans at the Reebok would have given United a passing thought – apart from hoping they would lose, of course.

Late show: Chris Eagles (right) scored an added-time winner for Bolton

Late show: Chris Eagles (right) scored an added-time winner for Bolton

Danny Ward came off the bench to score in stoppage time and give Mark Robins his first home win as Huddersfield manager at the expense of a Middlesbrough side, who are in freefall. Eight defeats in 11 games is doing nothing for Tony Mowbray’s mood.

The biggest attendance of the night was 22,660 at Leicester, who had Manchester United loanee Michael Keane to thank for yet another added-time goal – an equaliser against Leeds.

Some people will always remember Tuesday as the night Roy Keane burned whatever bridges he had left with Ferguson after backing the sending off of Nani.

Wolves fans will remember it as the night manager Dean Saunders won his first match after 10 attempts.

Rare win: Wolves picked up their first three points under Dean Saunders at Millwall

Rare win: Wolves picked up their first three points under Dean Saunders at Millwall

The 2-0 win at Millwall took Saunders’s team out of the bottom three and sets them up nicely for the next match, except it is at Forest.

Rant of the night came from Dave Jones, manager of Sheffield Wednesday, after a 2-1 defeat at Watford. Suggesting the referee was more suited to the Sunday League will not go down well at
the FA.

Howler of the night came from the same match. Watford goalkeeper Jonathan Bond scuffed a back pass from Marco Cassetti, which allowed Michail Antonio to run round him for a simple tap-in.

Comeback: Fernando Forestieri netted twice as Watford beat Sheffield Wednesday

Comeback: Fernando Forestieri netted twice as Watford beat Sheffield Wednesday

Brighton’s point at bottom club Bristol City came at the expense of a bad achilles injury to striker Craig Mackail-Smith, who is out for the rest of the season, which is a huge blow to their play-off hopes.

Last, but not least, even runaway leaders Cardiff are wobbling. Craig Noone popped up eight minutes from time with an equaliser against Derby, who were so short of bodies they could only name five substitutes.

Now that’s something you don’t see in the Champions League, either.

Shay Given could earn Aston Villa recall

Given poised to come to Villa's rescue as Lambert bids to plug leaky defence

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

20:15 GMT, 4 January 2013

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UPDATED:

23:52 GMT, 4 January 2013

Shay Given is in line for a recall to Aston Villa’s team to face Ipswich on Saturday afternoon.

Villa have conceded 17 goals in their last four Premier League fixtures and boss Paul Lambert is deliberating whether he returns at Brad Guzan’s expense.

Lambert said: ‘Brad hasn’t been at fault for any of the goals but Shay definitely comes into my thinking for this.’

Recall Shay Given (left) could replace Brad Guzman in the Aston Villa goal

Recall Shay Given (left) could replace Brad Guzman in the Aston Villa goal

'I think it might have been harder for Brad if he was a young guy, but Brad is a top professional and really mentally strong.

'From that point of view, yes of course it hurts losing goals, but I don't think it will affect him, not knowing him the way I do.

'I certainly wouldn't put Brad out of the team for what has happened.

'I don't think it's Brad Guzan's fault for the 17 goals we've let in. If it was not for Brad Guzan, it might have been 34.'

Guzan has been the only one stopping more of Villa's results from being embarrassing

Hands and knees: Guzan has been the only one stopping more of Villa's results from being embarrassing

Given made himself available this week to play for the Republic of Ireland again after announcing his retirement in the aftermath of the European Championships.

And Lambert believes the veteran is still playing well enough to represent his country.

He said: 'If that's Shay's thinking, then fine. For me, the way he's trained and the way he's played in the games has been excellent.

'He is no doubt good enough to come back and play for Ireland and has played well in the Capital One Cup matches.

'I'm just fortunate to have two such fine keepers available to choose from.'

Darren Bent playing for Villa

Gabriel Agbonlahor in action for Aston Villa.

Experience: Lambert will be boosted soon by the return of Bent and Agbonlahor

Lambert concedes that he would like to rest striker Christian Benteke once Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent return from injury.

Benteke has endured a heavy schedule and played in all four of Villa's games over Christmas and the new year.

Lambert said: 'I'd like to rest Christian because he's played a lot of games. He's played a lot of games for Belgium and his season with Genk had started before he joined us in August.

'But with Gabby and even Darren out injured, it has not been great. There have been a lot of injuries up front.'

Clint Hill warns QPR players to fight or leave club

QPR veteran Hill warns spineless players: If you don't want to fight, get out now

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UPDATED:

22:02 GMT, 29 December 2012

Queens Park Rangers defender Clint Hill has laid bare the dressing-room tensions at the Premier League’s bottom club ahead of the team’s crucial clash against Liverpool.

Hill revealed the discontent that the players who helped the club win promotion to the top flight felt when they were cast aside by previous managers Neil Warnock and Mark Hughes for a series of big-name signings, most of whom have failed to make any real impact.

And the 34-year-old veteran questioned whether the club’s imports had the desire to fight for Premier League survival.

Back in favour: Clint Hill (left) was overlooked by Mark Hughes at QPR

Back in favour: Clint Hill (left) was overlooked by Mark Hughes at QPR

‘Of course, I was hurt when I was dropped,’ said Hill. ‘And I’m not the only one. There were another 10 or 11 players who had done well for this club, bringing them up from the Championship. To see players who had fought for everything [discarded] is hard to take. We’re not nave enough to think that we didn’t need change, it’s just how much change.’

QPR have won just one game all season and are bottom of the table with 10 points. With games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham looming, they are likely to remain rooted at the bottom well into 2013.

New manager Harry Redknapp has already lambasted some of his best-paid players, claiming they are not giving value for money, and he fined Jose Bosingwa, a Champions League winner with Porto and Chelsea, 100,000 for refusing to sit on the bench for the recent clash against Fulham.

Hill, made captain by Redknapp for the game against West Bromwich Albion when Ryan Nelsen was absent, backs the boss’s stance on Bosingwa.

Bad books: Jose Bosingwa (left) was fined for refusing to be a substitute

Bad books: Jose Bosingwa (left) was fined for refusing to be a substitute

Hill said: ‘If you don’t want to go on the bench, then do you want to be here Do you want to fight Do you want to be in the scrap with your team-mates

‘We’ve all been on the bench, we’ve all been dropped, we’ve all been told we can go. But we all earn good money. If you can’t sit on the bench, there has got to be something wrong.
‘You want to be in this together. You want people next to you fighting for the cause. If you can’t sit on the bench and support the lads, then what are you doing here

‘We’ve got to be together and up for the fight. If you don’t fancy it, then January is round the corner, so off you go!’

Redknapp’s punishment of Bosingwa revealed the full-back’s 50,000-a-week wages and exposed the gulf in earnings between new signings and the pre-Premier League team. But Hill insists money is not an issue.

‘If you can get that money, then good for you,’ he said. ‘I’m more anxious about what players do on the pitch.’

Too much, too soon: Mark Hughes signed a whole new team in summer

Too much, too soon: Mark Hughes signed a whole new team in summer

The first wave of signings came when current owner Tony Fernandes bought the club in August 2011, with Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Armand Traore, Luke Young and Anton Ferdinand soon arriving.

When Warnock was sacked last January, Hughes brought in Nedum Onuoha, Samba Diakite, Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse during the transfer window, before almost an entire team was signed in the summer. Hughes bought Bosingwa and Nelsen along with Andy Johnson, Park Ji-sung, Esteban Granero, Rob Green, Julio Cesar, Junior Hoilett and Stephane Mbia, with Fabio Da Silva arriving on loan.

Of these, only Nelsen, now club captain, is an unqualified success. QPR also paid almost 7million in agents’ fees, the third highest in the Premier League behind Liverpool and Manchester City.

Hill suggests Hughes tried to build a new side too quickly. ‘When you look at the other teams that came up with us, Swansea and Norwich, they’ve done it gradually and brought big players in when they needed it,’ he said.

Struggling: Esteban Granero (right) has failed to live up to his billing at QPR

Struggling: Esteban Granero (right) has failed to live up to his billing at QPR

‘The players who came up from the Championship weren’t given enough trust. I think they could have done a job in this League. But all managers have their own transfer policies.’

Hill was voted player of the season by fans and players in 2011-12 but thought he would be sold on until Redknapp arrived five weeks ago and restored him along with Shaun Derry and Jamie Mackie from the promotion team.

Hill added: ‘I’m 34 and I’ve played most of my career in the lower leagues. You’re talking about a Champions League winner [Bosingwa] here and people who have won the Premier League and FA Cups. You hope there’s a desire within them. We need that as a team, as a unit. Everyone is frustrated and everyone is different. But it has to be hurting you to be bottom and to have won one game. If it isn’t, I’ve got to question them.’

Frankie Gavin will ditch British Lonsdale belt if he necessary for European title shot

Gavin ready to ditch Londsale belt if it gives him chance of European title shot

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UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 19 December 2012

Frankie Gavin insists there will be no room for sentiment if he has to dump the prestigious British Lonsdale belt in order to secure a European welterweight shot.

The domestic champion defends his crown for the first time against Jason Welborn at Walsall Town Hall on January 18.

The Birmingham fighter earned the title by outsmarting wily veteran Junior Witter recently and has been rewarded with a seemingly straightforward assignment in nearby Walsall against local lad Welborn.

No room for sentimentality: Frankie Gavin will ditch the belt if needs be

No room for sentimentality: Frankie Gavin will ditch the belt if needs be

'Nobody wanted to fight Witter, nobody was calling him out except me,' the 27-year-old said.

'I got myself into the mandatory position and did what I had to do to get the best of him.

'The dust has settled on that and it's about defending the title now. Jason Welborn will do everything he can to get close to me and knock me out but I've got different feelings about that.

'I'll use my ring smarts and ring craft and hopefully will have too much for him.

'It's going to be a great atmosphere. He sells a lot of tickets, I do too, it's going to be packed. It's great for me to be back in my local area in a Brum v Black Country scrap.'

Gavin (14-0, 10KOs), who is ranked in the European top 10, added: 'It's very important to me to keep busy and keep this belt but if the two defences don't happen quickly and I get offered a European title shot or something different of that stature then I'll take it.

Up for it: Gavin (right) in action against Michael Lomax

Up for it: Gavin (right) in action against Michael Lomax

'It's important that I keep winning. That's all that matters to me.

'I've got a winner's mentality. I just want to win, win, win. Whatever it takes.'

Welborn (11-1, 5 KOs) is happy to postpone Christmas festivities in order to fulfil his dream.

He said: 'It's two local lads fighting in the local area and you don't often get fights like this. That's why tickets have just flown out – he's sold all of his and I've sold all mine. We're trying to get more.

'I've got to be good over Christmas but this is my Christmas present, to get that belt. I felt it earlier and I want it.'

Local favourite Martin Gethin fights for the vacant British and Commonwealth lightweight belts against Ben Murphy on the same bill.

George Groves confident of stopping Glencoffe Johnson

I'm going to knock him out! Groves confident of stopping Johnson for only second time in his career

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UPDATED:

18:22 GMT, 14 December 2012

George Groves hopes to sound a warning to the super-middleweight division by becoming only the second fighter to stop Glencoffe Johnson at London’s ExCel Arena tomorrow night.

Groves headlines the bill after Ricky Burns’ WBO world lightweight title defence against Jose Ocampo was abandoned for contractual reasons.

It will be the unbeaten 24-year-old’s second outing of a year interrupted by back and nose injuries and the significant cut sustained during his six-round stoppage of Francisco Sierra in July.

Tough: Johnson pushed Froch all the way when they met in 2011, losing by majority decision

Tough: Johnson pushed Froch all the way when they met in 2011, losing by majority decision

Johnson is a 43-year-old veteran of 70 fights and while he has lost 17 times, he only failed to last the distance against Bernard Hopkins in 1997, providing Groves with a target for the fourth defence of his Commonwealth belt.

'I’m ranked highly with all the four major sanctioning bodies so now I’ve arrived in world class I want to build on those rankings,' he said.

'I want to keep my options open with all the organisations so that if any door opens, against any of the champions, I can jump straight in. We’re already knocking loudly.

'Clearly Glencoffe knows how to survive and stopping him would make a huge statement. I do expect to stop him but don’t expect him to just fall over.'

Groves will defend his Commonwealth title against the veteran Jamaican on Saturday

Groves will defend his Commonwealth title against the veteran Jamaican on Saturday

Groves has victories over James DeGale and Paul Smith on his 15-fight record, but Johnson is indifferent in his assessment of his opponent.

'From what I’ve seen I’m not impressed as such, but I respect George as an unbeaten prospect with a lot of potential,' the Jamaican said.

'The way I look at it, the fight isn’t about George Groves. Right now, I feel good about what I can still do. If I fight smart I’m the better fighter. It’ll be up to the judges to do their jobs correctly.'

Groves's biggest win came against rival James DeGale at The O2 Arena in May 2011

Groves's biggest win came against rival James DeGale at The O2 Arena in May 2011

Prospect: Beijing 2008 Olympian Billy Joe Saunders is also on the bill

Prospect: Beijing 2008 Olympian Billy Joe Saunders is also on the bill

Billy Joe Saunders defends his Commonwealth middleweight title and fights for the vacant British belt when he meets former unlicensed boxer Nick Blackwell.

The 23-year-old 2008 Olympian turned professional at the same time as DeGale and Frankie Gavin, but is viewed by many as the most promising of the trio.

'I didn’t really get pro boxing at first. I thought that as long as I stayed hydrated and ate fresh food, I’d be okay. But now I really live the life, take all the right vitamins and supplements,' he said.

He added: 'I’ve not really shown what I’m about in the ring but people at our gym have seen a big improvement.

'Hopefully Blackwell will hang around long enough for me to really show my classy boxing.'

Ryan Giggs would buy karaoke machine for Sir Alex Ferguson this Christmas

Sing your heart out, Fergie! Karaoke machine would top Giggs' Christmas list for United boss

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UPDATED:

02:49 GMT, 13 December 2012

What do you get for the man who has everything Well, certainly in terms of trophies anyway.

Ryan Giggs says he would buy Sir Alex Ferguson a karaoke machine – if only to keep the Manchester United manager quiet around the club’s Carrington training ground.

Sing up! Giggs would buy Fergie and Karaoke machine

Sing up! Giggs would buy Fergie and Karaoke machine

Sing up! Giggs would buy Fergie and Karaoke machine

‘I’ve done all my Christmas shopping,’
said the United veteran. ‘I’m organised. I’ve done a bit of shopping, a
bit online. Get it out of the way earlier.

‘What would I buy the manager He likes singing around the place, so maybe a karaoke machine for when he gets home … so he’s singing there rather than around the training ground!’

After so long in the game, Giggs is used to being separated from his family at Christmas but admits that not seeing his children Zach and Libby is the most difficult part.

‘Christmas is just something we’re used to,’ he added. ‘I've known nothing different since I was 15. It's tougher when you've got kids. It's difficult knowing you're in a hotel that night but the kids understand. They’re probably too busy to notice I’ve gone.’

LA Galaxy interested in Tottenham goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini

Spurs stopper Cudicini wanted by LA Galaxy after seeing first-team chances slip

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 11 December 2012

LA Galaxy are showing interest in Tottenham's other veteran goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini.

The 39-year-old is eager to play after falling behind Brad Friedel and Hugo Lloris.

Although 41-year-old Friedel is set to join Blackburn in January, Cudicini is interested in the idea of going to Los Angeles and following former teammate Robbie Keane.

United he stands: Carlo Cudicini could be on his way to LA Galaxy

United he stands: Carlo Cudicini could be on his way to LA Galaxy

Tottenham's other experienced keeper Heurelho Gomes is attrcating interest from Brazil but his wages and expected 3.5million transfer fee are so far proving too exspensive.

Spurs, meanwhile, have again been linked with a move for Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder.

However, the 28-year-old's high wages would provide a major obstacle to any permanent deal for the Dutch international, who has not played at Inter since September.

Paul Lambert says Ciaran Clark has a great future with Ireland

Lambert claims Clark is a 'great catch for Ireland' as Villa boss says England missed out

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Giovanni Trapattoni will watch Ciaran Clark on Saturday with Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert suggesting that England have made a mistake in not fighting harder to secure the defender's services.

Trappatoni, the veteran coach of the Ireland team, will be at Villa Park to see the centre-half continue his encouraging start to the season against Stoke City.

The 23-year-old defender, now capped three times for the 'Mighty Greens,' was a part of England's set up at junior level, appearing for four different age groups before being persuaded to switch allegiance.

Good catch: Ciaran Clark has been capped three times for Ireland

Good catch: Ciaran Clark has been capped three times for Ireland

'Ciaran has a massive future,' said Lambert, 'and the more caps he can accumulate, then great.

'It's hard to say if England have missed a trick, or not. It wasn't until recently that I found out Gabby Agbonlahor qualifies for Scotland.

'England do have good centre halves. To have Ciaran is definitely Ireland's gain – there are not many left-footed centre-halves about, so that gives him a great advantage.

'I saw him play against Greece and I thought he did really well. It's there for him to go and do it and have a big career now for Ireland.'

The Scot believes that Villa 'are doing really fine' after a run of results which has seen them lose just two of their last seven matches in the Barclays Premier League.

Villa remain perilously close to the drop zone and are the second lowest scorers in the top-flight.

Positive: Clark has helped Villa on a strong run, but they remain close to the drop

Positive: Clark has helped Villa on a strong run, but they remain close to the drop

They are just two points ahead of Southampton who lie third from bottom and have found the net just 12 times this season.

Yet they are also within touching distance of a mid-table spot in a division that has become heavily congested outside of the bottom three places.

Former manager Alex McLeish, whose reign was heavily criticised, had amassed five more points at a similar stage last season but there is an air of calm around Lambert.

'I think in the last seven games only the two Manchester clubs have beaten us,' he said, 'I think people tend to overlook that.

'We've been unfairly criticised at times because we are young and people look at us and think 'young team' but if you look at the way things are going at the moment, we are doing really fine.'

Just fine: Lambert is happy with the performances his side have put in

Just fine: Lambert is happy with the performances his side have put in

Andy Murray should cheer up, says John McEnroe

Pot. Kettle. Black Notoriously grumpy McEnroe tells Murray to cheer up now he's won a Major

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UPDATED:

23:13 GMT, 6 December 2012

John McEnroe was never known for his sunny demeanour on a tennis court, but he still has some advice for Andy Murray – cheer up now that you have won your first Major.

The veteran American thinks a more positive outlook should help Murray in his quest to add to his US Open next season, although he acknowledged that he was hardly a shining example when he was at the top of the sport.

'It would be helpful to see Andy be sort of “I want to be here and I’m loving this”,' the American, who yesterday beat Jeremy Bates 6-4, 6-1 in the Statoil Masters at the Royal Albert Hall, said. 'The next time he wins a Major it would be nice to look a little bit more excited,'

Cheer up: John McEnroe, renowned for his fire on court, has told Andy Murray he should be happier on court as it may help him win more

Cheer up: John McEnroe, renowned for his fire on court, has told Andy Murray he should be happier on court as it may help him win more

Cheer up: John McEnroe, renowned for his fire on court, has told Andy Murray he should be happier on court as it may help him win more

'I say it as an ex-player and someone who wished that perhaps at times I had done that a little bit more. Maybe he was more relieved than anything else when he won at Flushing Meadows.

'One of the things that worried me is that he used to get so negative that not only would it turn himself off in a way, but it turned off people watching him.

'It's like when I saw Azarenka play Sharapova at the US Open, the grunting, it takes away from what you're watching. You're trying to watch and it was a great battle, but it feels like it's hard to stay with it as much as I would like to, given the quality.'

McEnroe believes that Murray has everything to play for next season in what could be a year of change for the men’s game after so much domination by four players.

'This is around the time that something is going to give. Roger is amazing, no doubt about that, but he’s 31. Rafa is the one we don’t know about, he hasn’t played for seven months. I hope to God he does have two or three more good years.

Eye on the ball: McEnroe beat British tennis star Jeremy Bates at the Statoil Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Thursday

Eye on the ball: McEnroe beat British tennis star Jeremy Bates at the Statoil Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Thursday

Eye on the ball: McEnroe beat British tennis star Jeremy Bates at the Statoil Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Thursday

'Novak's had two years at No 1, so it wouldn’t be unheard of to feel like there'd be some type of let-down on some level. Maybe, then again, if he won two majors next year it wouldn’t be shocking.

'Andy's sort of set himself up for doing something big as well. Someone else is shortly going to come through, I’ve been wondering myself who that is.

'Del Potro to me would be the most obvious choice of who’s got the experience and knows what it's like to go long and win one.

'If he can stay healthy and get himself just a little bit fitter, which is what you've got to do against these guys. Then there’ll be someone sort of unknown.

'I thought it was going to be Milos Raonic, but he’s sort of levelled off in a way, and I thought there were other guys that were in the mix that seem to have dropped off. But someone’s going to appear.

'Andy has set himself for a big year, although he missed a few opportunities at the end of this season, still it was the best one he’s ever had.

'If he doesn’t take it up a notch he would be disappointed but if he wins one Major that would be a good year. They are not easy to win.'

Reasons to smile: Murray claimed his first Major at Flushing Meadows in September

Reasons to smile: Murray claimed his first Major at Flushing Meadows in September

McEnroe has been impressed by what he has seen of Laura Robson and Heather Watson but feels the former has the potential to go further.

'Heather has done well but it might be a bit tougher for her because of her size. Robson to me is the one with the bigger upside. She has got a lot of ability and clearly if she is committed and in tip-top shape, I think she could easily be top 10.

'The US Open is the best she has ever played. I think she can do something big personally. I saw that four years ago.

'Hopefully she will have a consistent period to get where she should be. I think she could be really dangerous.

'She is a natural tennis player but she is going to have to be like a Berdych in the men's game – big and powerful. In natural talent I think she is good as anyone out there.'

Despite that view, it was ultra-competitive and mobile Watson who finished the year as British No 1. She is in the middle of a winter training block that has been mostly done in Florida, although on Thursday night she was playing a mixed doubles exhibition alongside Tim Henman at the Statoil Masters.

Pride of Britain: Heather Watson and Laura Robson have bright futures

Pride of Britain: Heather Watson and Laura Robson have bright futures

One of things she will be doing this week is sitting down with her father Ian in what is like an annual general meeting to determine her goals and mark her performance of this season.

'We have this big meeting every year when we discuss the targets for the next season. It lasts about three hours and we talk very openly and honestly and I mark my performance at each tournament. It sort of guides me through the year.

'Twelve months ago my target was to break the top 50 and win an event on the WTA Tour, and I managed both. I don’t know what we will come up with for next year yet but the training is going very well and I’m feeling very confident.'

Real Madrid consider David Beckham approach

Coming back to Madrid! Real consider approach for Beckham when star leaves Galaxy

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UPDATED:

23:12 GMT, 21 November 2012

Real Madrid are plotting a shock move to bring David Beckham back to Spain.

The idea of re-signing the superstar as a club ambassador has been floated by the La Liga giants, with president Florentino Perez known to be a huge admirer of Beckham's global appeal.

What next David Beckham could be approached by one of his former clubs, Real Madrid

What next David Beckham could be approached by one of his former clubs, Real Madrid

What next David Beckham could be approached by one of his former clubs, Real Madrid

Upon confirming his imminent departure from the LA Galaxy, the former Manchester United midfielder said he wanted 'one last challenge', suggesting he wants to continue playing.

But Real hope the magic of Madrid will be enough to convince him to hang up his boots.

Even if Beckham continues playing, it is understood Perez will not give up on his attempts to take the veteran back to the Bernebeu in a non-playing role in the future.

Beckham has a host of options when he leaves the MLS after December 1, with Paris St Germain, Flamengo, Corinthians, as well as a number of Chinese, Australian and Middle Eastern clubs all vying for his signature.