Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Defender Abel to Find the Net

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Defender Abel to Find the Net

Article excerpt

Middlesbrough 5

Bolton Wanderers 1

ABEL Xavier scored his first goal for Middlesbrough -and then stressed again he could be moving on if he does not receive a new contract offer by the end of January.

The Portuguese international, who netted the second goal in the Stewart Downing-inspired 5-1 win has a short-term deal which runs out in the summer.

He claims to have received interest from other clubs and wants an extended an improved deal to stay on Teesside. If not, he could sign a pre-contract with another club.

Boro stuck by Xavier during his year-long ban for misuse of a banned substance, and the 33-year-old admitted: "I'm grateful to the club for sticking by me. You show gratitude in the way you perform, and I'm very pleased to come back. I want to be treated as a normal player. We have ten days to go to the end of the transfer windowlet's see what happens and what the club will say. The club know my situation and I'm pleased to be here and I'm happy the manager is pleased with me.

"But now the question is with the board about my situation with my contract and we wait for next week to see what will happen."

Xavier believes his current form for the club is enough to earn him a new deal and while he is clearly Gareth Southgate's first choice at right-back at the moment, the manager does have other options.

Andrew Davies has broken through this season and done a great job, while Southgate can also call on Stuart Parnaby, who was Steve McClaren's regular right-back.

What is undisputable is Xavier is producing some superb football. He forced Gary Speed's early own goal on Saturday and then got his name on the scoresheet five minutes later.

And Southgate admits he wants to offer the player an extension for next season.

He said: "We have a similar situation with MarkViduka, who is also out of contract and who we want to stay. Mark has done his talking on the pitch and Abel's doing that. It's true there is a clause in his contract in the club's favour but we want him to stay because he's performed well. …

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