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FA Cup quarterfinal draw

FA Cup

Kirkland eyes new contract

Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Chris Kirkland admits he is hoping to regain his first-team place and earn a new contract at the DW Stadium.

Kirkland, 30, was once hailed as an England goalkeeper of the future but has regularly had his progress disrupted by injury. He was replaced as Wigan's No. 1 by Ali Al-Habsi last season and also had a loan spell to Doncaster Rovers cut short by injury.

However, with his contract due to expire in June 2012 and, with Wigan currently struggling in the Premier League, Kirkland remains optimistic about the possibility of earning a return to the first-team and a contract extension.

"First of all, I'd like to regain my place at Wigan and sign a new deal," he said. "I understand that teams are going to be suspicious, but I hope somebody will take a chance like Paul Jewell did when I came here. That paid off for him and the club and whoever takes me will get a player that is ready to shine again. They will get a player who is hungry to put this behind me, too.

"If there was no end in sight, I would be devastated, but I know I am nearly there. People only need to see me training to see that. Over the period I've been out of the team at Wigan, I have been fit. Last season, I only missed 14 training sessions. This season, I hadn't missed a single one until I got injured with Doncaster.

"People are going to laugh, but I am more happy with my body now than I ever have been. I know I'm nearly there. People will say, 'how can he say that after everything that has happened?', but I know I am getting there. I will get there."

Kirkland once dislodged Magnus Hedman as the first-choice goalkeeper at Coventry City before earning a lucrative transfer to Liverpool. Despite struggling for progress, Kirkland made his England debut while on loan at Wigan in Steve McClaren's first game as manager but has since struggled for consistent fitness.


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