Dawson's bid for Champions League and England squad

MICHAEL Dawson has responded to Jonathan Woodgate s challenge by saying Tottenham will be bidding for a Champions League place next season. Despite landing the Carling Cup, Spurs flopped badly in the Premier League and finished 11th following a last day d

MICHAEL Dawson has responded to Jonathan Woodgate's challenge by saying Tottenham will be bidding for a Champions League place next season.

Despite landing the Carling Cup, Spurs flopped badly in the Premier League and finished 11th following a last day defeat against Liverpool at the Lane.

However, the central defender feels the Lilywhites can now step up a level in Juande Ramos's first full season in charge.

"We have definitely got the quality to make the Champions League," said Dawson. "You look around the dressing room and I'm sure the manager has got aims about what he wants to do. Every player is striving for the same.

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"We have got a good squad here and of course we want to build and climb up that table. Our goal is to be chasing teams like Liverpool and to be near the top.

"It would help if things are settled and if the manager wants to change things by the start of the season. Once we are up and running I'm sure it will be nice and settled. I have never known a season like this one. There have been lots of ups and downs and I think the players have learned from all the experiences.

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"We were going through a bad patch and it was hard for the players, especially myself, and we have come back strong. We went on and won the cup, which was great."

"The league position is very difficult after the last two seasons and missing out on fourth position a couple of years ago. We wanted to build on last season when we finished fifth. But we got off to a bad start. We won the Carling Cup, which was a bonus but our final league position was disappointing.

It has also been a frustrating season for Dawson himself. The former Nottingham Forest player missed the club's big day at Wembley against Chelsea back in February through injury and has also been the subject of transfer speculation, particularly since the arrival of Jonathan Woodgate from Middlesbrough.

"From a personal point of view the Carling Cup final was really hard for me," he said. "I was in the stands but it was all about the football club. It would have been a lot better if I could have been involved but there was no point sulking about it. I wanted to enjoy the day. It was a great day for everyone associated with the club. I came to terms with it a week before when I knew I wasn't going to be fit to play. It would have been nice to get to the Uefa Cup final, but it wasn't to be. To win something next year would be like a dream come true for me and have a day like we had at Wembley.

"It is just speculation about my future. I am happy here at Spurs and I don't know where that has come from. We have got depth in the centre-back spot and, hopefully, the manager thinks like that as well. Fingers crossed it will be the same next year. It is competition and we want to push on."

Dawson has nothing but praise for the player who has become first choice centre-half in the absence of Ledley King. "Woody is a fantastic player and has been a great signing," he said.

"Two games in and he has scored the winner in the Carling Cup final. He is a great lad to have around. I will never be jealous of anyone."

Yet, the former Forest player has not given up hope of breaking into Fabio Capello's England squad despite being overlooked for the end of season friendlies.

"Of course, I want to be in the England squad," he said. "I will never give up hope of getting a cap for England. I am at a massive club like Tottenham and hopefully playing every week. All I can keep doing is working hard here, play well and everything else will take care of itself.

"If you look over the past two seasons and the way I have been playing, I like to think I have learned a great deal and try to improve all the time."


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