Robinson on road to recovery after 'hurt' of England setback

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The Independent Football

Paul Robinson believes he is close to regaining his best form after overcoming the "hurt" of being dropped for England's crunch Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia. The Tottenham goalkeeper was left out by the then England coach, Steve McClaren, after being No 1 for the previous three years, with the unproven Scott Carson given his competitive debut.

It proved to be a disastrous move with Carson's error gifting Niko Kranjcar the opening goal in Croatia's 3-2 win which ended England's hopes of qualifying for the finals in Austria and Switzerland.

Robinson admits he lost confidence for a spell but feels he has put his troubled times behind him and he looked confident and assured despite Spurs being beaten 2-1 at Aston Villa on New Year's Day. Now he wants to continue in that vein as a new England era gets under way with Fabio Capello at the helm.

"I had a dip in confidence," Robinson said. "When you get criticised, it is not nice and you have a dip in confidence but I feel in the last few weeks that I've been getting back to my best. I'm feeling confident now and hopefully my form is showing that. Of course, it hurt at the time when I was left out by England but sometimes you look at the game and become a better player by not playing. Now there is a new England manager and everyone starts with a clean slate.

"There are only a couple of England games during the rest of this season and I'm really looking forward to building on my confidence and maintaining my form for Tottenham."

Robinson believes Tottenham can climb the Premier League table during the second half of the campaign but stressed the importance of holding on to the sought-after striker Dimitar Berbatov.

"Obviously you see the speculation, but until there is any substance we just laugh it off and wind him up at the moment," Robinson said. "If there is any substance to it, we will have to wait and see. Dimitar is a fantastic player and a top talent and, if we want to be going the right way, we need to keep players such as Berbatov.

"I think Tottenham is a big club. Hopefully we can get to the Carling Cup final this year and hopefully with a new manager we can build on results and start climbing the table as well. We are making progress, it is slow progress but we are going the right way up the table. You look where we were when the manager first took over and it was disappointing for everybody but we are moving in the right direction.

"There is still a long way to go in the season. I feel the team's performances have picked up and hopefully, with a little bit of luck, and a little bit of organisation, cutting out silly mistakes, we will get results."

The Spurs coach, Juande Ramos, said of Berbatov: "Obviously Berbatov's agent is looking to do his business and has been making comments. But we are happy because we have the player on a contract and we plan to keep him."

Ramos also defended his decision to leave leading scorer Robbie Keane on the substitutes' bench until the second half of the Villa game. "We have to vary the squad," Ramos said. "We have a lot of matches coming up and it was Robbie's turn to be omitted from the start."

The Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, who will become a free agent in the summer, is resigned to a future away from the club after becoming third choice this season. "As much as I like Aston Villa, I need to be playing," Sorensen said. "How it is going to be done, we will see what happens.

"It depends what the manager wants as well. He has got the last say. But he also knows that I have got ambitions and I'm not happy being left out. I know my agent is speaking to him, probably in the next couple of days, and then we will see what kind of solution we can come up with."

Elsewhere, the Senegal captain Lamine Diatta has left Besiktas after reaching a financial agreement with the Turkish club. "I wanted to leave for personal reasons," Diatta said. "Besiktas were open to discussion and we reached a financial agreement," the 32-year-old defender said.

After spending a few days with his family near Bordeaux, Diatta will join Senegal's national team to train for the African Nations Cup which runs from 20 January to 10 February in Ghana.

The Palermo president, Maurizio Zamparini, hopes to hang on to the Brazilian forward Amauri despite media reports saying Milan, Juventus and Liverpool are keen to do a deal. "I have not vetoed Amauri's passage to Milan, especially as there has been no offer, neither from the Rossoneri nor from Juventus," he said.

"I only know that some foreign clubs are interested in him but until June nothing will happen. For sure, I will do everything to make him stay."