Keane ready to negotiate new United contract

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Roy Keane hopes to begin talks on a fresh contract with Manchester United in the new year. Keane claimed yesterday that he has "never been happier" at United following reports that he was disgruntled and could join Celtic.

Now the United captain wants to reinforce those claims by committing his future to Old Trafford. Keane's representative, Michael Kennedy, has revealed that United are ready to open negotiations and he hopes talks will begin in the new year.

"United have indicated that they would like to sit down and talk to us," Kennedy said. "We're happy to meet them at any time and discuss a new contract, but we hope that talks will begin in the new year. We'll sit down with the club then. It will all depend on the terms offered, but Roy wants to stay. Manchester United is his club."

It is almost two years to the day since Keane signed a three-and-a-half year deal which shattered United's rigid pay structure. Keane reportedly picks up £52,000 a week net under the terms of that deal, which expires in the summer of 2003.

Keane, who turned 30 in August, has been overtaken in the pay stakes by the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron and the Republic of Ireland midfielder will be offered improved terms. Keane's readiness to sign a new contract is a huge boost for United as they try to end their slump in form.

David Beckham gave United another much-needed boost yesterday when he was voted Britain's Sportsman of the Year. Stephanie Cook, the doctor-cum-Olympic gold medal pentathlete, won the award for Sportswoman of the Year after winning the European individual championship and the world team event.

But the occasion, the 53rd in the SWA history, was marked by an emotional address from the Liverpool manager, Gérard Houllier, whose club won the Sports Team of the Year. Houllier, recovering from heart surgery, addressed the audience by video link to acclaim his side who won five trophies in the year 2001 – the Worthington Cup, the FA Cup, the Charity Shield, the Super Cup and the Uefa Cup.

Jonathan Edwards, who won gold at the World Athletics Championships earlier this year, came second in the SWA poll with Michael Owen third.

Meanwhile, the Portugal striker Nuno Gomes does not want to move to England – because it is too cold. The Fiorentina forward has been linked with Liverpool as they look for a replacement for Robbie Fowler and the Italians try to reduce their debts. But the 25-year-old said: "I don't like England as a country from the point of view of the weather. It is too cold."

Fiorentina have already been forced to sell the goalkeeper Francesco Toldo, the defender Tomas Repka and the midfielder Manuel Rui Costa to stave off the threat of bankruptcy. Gomes added: "I think I will stay in Florence until June unless the club ask me to leave because they have received a great offer for me."

Bradford City have signed centre-back Steven Caldwell on a month's loan from Newcastle partly to ease the club's crippling injury crisis. With David Wetherall and Andy Tod (groin), Peter Atherton (knee), along with the suspended Robert Molenaar and Gunnar Halle, all out of Saturday's First Division game with Rotherham at Valley Parade, the manager, Jim Jefferies, has been forced to act.

Caldwell played in three of Newcastle's Intertoto Cup games at the start of the season before joining Blackpool, of the Second Division, on a month's loan, making seven appearances.

The 21-year-old, who has also won one international cap with Scotland, will be remembered by Bradford supporters for knocking them out of last season's Worthington Cup when he scored the winner in a 4-3 third-round triumph at St James' Park.

Jefferies' problems, though, are not solely consigned to defence as Gary Locke is out with a hamstring injury, Eoin Jess has influenza and Gareth Whalley is struggling with a groin strain. Also on the treatment table are the captain, Stuart McCall, Wayne Jacobs, Andy Myers and Gary Walsh, all with minor knocks, leaving Jefferies struggling just to fill the bench for the visit of Rotherham.