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Sunderland's August hoodoo

By ESPN Staff

Butt wants chance to rescue Newcastle career

Nicky Butt is determined to prove his critics wrong as he attempts to revive his Newcastle career.

The 31-year-old former England midfielder spent last season on loan at Birmingham after a disastrous first campaign with the Magpies.

In his despair at the 4-1 FA Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester United, the club with which he made his name, he managed to lose the support of the club's fans when he failed to acknowledge them as he trudged off the pitch at the Millennium Stadium.

He has since played just one game for Newcastle - although is something he intends to rectify in the Intertoto Cup clash with Lillestrom on Saturday.

Butt returned to training with the Magpies after Birmingham's relegation scuppered their hopes of signing him on a permanent basis, and now he is desperate to rediscover the form which made him one of England's best players at the 2002 World Cup finals.

He said: 'It was a one-year loan, so as far as I was concerned, I was going to come back here if it didn't go well.

'I'm happy to be back here. It's a massive, massive club. I didn't set the world alight the first time I was here, but there is new manager and a new regime and hopefully I can do it this time.'

Just why he failed to reproduce his Manchester United form after shaking off a nasty hamstring problem remains a mystery, but Butt insists there are no excuses.

He said: 'You can look for excuses all you want. I did have a hamstring injury, but at the end of the day when I came back, I didn't perform as well as I should have done.

'I started well and I enjoyed my time when I first came up here, but after Christmas, I know I did not perform as well as I should have done.'

Butt's stock slumped to an all-time low after what was perceived as a semi-final snub.

He immediately insisted he had not ignored the fans, but is keen to put that day firmly behind him by proving his worth all over again.

He told the club's official website: 'It was very disappointing. To lose against anybody in a semi-final is demoralising, but against your old friends and your old club it's even worse.

'But that's in the past now and I know I need to do better this time. I've got two years left on my contract. The new manager has come in and I've had a chat with him and he's been very positive about it.

'I'm going to give it 100%. As far as I'm concerned, I'm here and unless I'm told something else by the club, I'm still a Newcastle player. It's a case of giving all I've got in training, whether it be running or football work.

'It's part and parcel of being a footballer. If I get a chance in the game (on Saturday), all well and good.

'That's my job, to play football for Newcastle, and if I get the chance to play on Saturday, that will be another chance to prove I'm worthy of a place.'

With Lee Bowyer having left the club and Lee Clark now a member of the coaching staff, Newcastle have less depth in midfield, although James Milner has returned from his loan spell at Aston Villa and Fulham's Steed Malbranque remains a target.

Meanwhile, £8million French defender Jean-Alain Boumsong is reportedly a target for Monaco after returning from the World Cup finals with a losers' medal.

The 26-year-old, who has also been linked with Marseille after a difficult 18 months on Tyneside, has fallen behind Titus Bramble, Craig Moore and Steven Taylor in the pecking order, and could find himself sitting on the bench - where he spent the entire tournament in Germany - once again.