Heskey aiming for England recall after £5.5m Wigan move

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The Independent Online

Emile Heskey has set himself the target of an England recall after making a rapid return to the Premiership as a Wigan player yesterday.

It is two years since Heskey won the most recent of his 43 caps, as substitute in the 2-1 defeat by France in the Euro 2004 group stage. But Heskey, who became Wigan's record signing at £5.5m after leaving the Championship side Birmingham, said he has "never retired from England".

"I still have England ambitions because I know I can still bring something to the game," Heskey said. "Hopefully I can now play well for Wigan and push for an England call-up."

Although Heskey suffered during Birmingham's relegation campaign, scoring only five Premiership goals to take his tally to 16 in 78 appearances for the Blues, manager Paul Jewell is adamant the former Leicester and Liverpool striker will bring quality to the JJB Stadium.

"There is not a more fearsome sight for a defender than Emile Heskey coming towards you," Jewell said. "I admit he didn't have a good season last season, but Emile is a great signing.

"If we can get him back to his best then there's no reason why he cannot play for England again. He has all the attributes to be as good a centre-forward in England as anybody. He is quick, strong, powerful, good in the air and has an eye for goal. I couldn't be more pleased about him.

"He has 40-odd England caps to his name, and I think he will be a sensation."

Heskey took advice from friends before signing a three-year deal following whirlwind negotiations. At 6pm on Thursday evening, Wigan had agreed the fee with Birmingham, smashing their previous record of £3.1m paid to Wolves for Henri Camara last summer, and by 1.30pm yesterday the 28-year-old had signed.

Heskey said: "I have talked to a lot of mates in the game and they have said nothing but good things about the manager and the way the club is run. I was very impressed with how Paul Jewell sold the club to me, with the ambition here and the role he sees for me.

"I know I've still a lot to offer in the Premiership. It's the place to be, and I want to be here a long time.

"Now I'm here at Wigan it's a fresh start. I'm back in the Premier League and I can't wait to get started.

"There's a lot of potential here, and we want to push forward and to stay in the top half of the League after finishing 10th last season. Hopefully we can win one of the cups. But I feel we have to push for that European place. Something like that you have to look to."

After failing with an £8.5m bid for Andrew Johnson, who chose Everton, and with a number of other high-profile offers failing, Heskey's arrival may influence more arrivals. "I'm confident that by the time the season starts there will be at least six new faces in the squad," Jewell said.

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