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By ESPN Staff
Aug 26, 2006

Woodgate to return to England on loan

MADRID, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Real Madrid centre back Jonathan Woodgate has confirmed he will play on loan in England this season in an attempt to get regular games and prove that he has overcome his long-standing injury problems.

'I'm going to go on loan for a year and I'll know which team I'm going to join in the next few days,' the 26-year-old was quoted as saying in the Spanish media on Saturday.

'I like all the English teams that want me and it would be a positive step for me to go back to England. I need to play games in order to show that I'm strong and completely recovered.

'At Real Madrid it is difficult to have any continuity, but in a year I will come back to Madrid to prove that I am a good footballer.'

Woodgate joined Real on a four-year deal from Newcastle United in August 2004 for close to 20 million euros ($25.55 million) despite the fact that he was suffering from a serious thigh injury when he was signed.

He did not play his first league match for Real until over a year later and his debut became the stuff of nightmares when he scored an own goal and was sent off against Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu in September 2005.

Although he produced some assured performances, a succession of later injuries to his ankle and thigh prevented him playing regularly and getting match fit.

He was on the verge of earning a return to the England squad in November when he suffered a hamstring tear in a league match against Real Zaragoza and his season ended when he had a recurrence of the injury in Real's 1-0 Champions League defeat by Arsenal in February.

Woodgate returned to his former club Leeds United in April to receive specialist treatment and rejoined Real in pre-season training where he looked in good shape and showed no signs of his previous injuries.

However, the arrivals of new coach Fabio Capello and Italy's World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro have reduced Woodgate's chances of getting regular games at the club.

He has played a total of 14 competitive games for Real since joining them two years ago, nine in the league, three in the Champions League and two in the King's Cup.