Hargreaves weighing up offer as Albion throw him career lifeline


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The Independent Football

Roy Hodgson revealed yesterday that West Bromwich Albion presented the former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves with a contract offer after a meeting with the player on Tuesday night and are waiting for his response.

Hodgson's medical department at West Bromwich, led by doctor Mark Gillett, have carried out their own tests on the 30-year-old, who has suffered from chronic tendinitis over the last three years, and are convinced that he represents a good investment. Hodgson even hinted that the player may be offered more than a one-year deal.

Hargreaves has played in just two games for United from 21 September, 2008, to when his contract at the club expired at the end of June. A free agent, he has rebuilt his fitness with trainer Alex McKechnie and has gone to the extent of releasing on the internet training videos of him working out to demonstrate he is over his injuries.

Albion's director of football Dan Ashworth, who has developed a reputation over the last two seasons for getting good value in the transfer market, has emailed Hargreaves a contract proposal. Hodgson said that although he was keen to sign the player he was aware that there would be competition from across Europe for him.

Hodgson said that he was sure Hargreaves would have a future in the game. "We'd like him to play for us but again, I'll have to be frank here. I met him on the Tuesday afternoon and left early Wednesday morning to come down here," Hodgson said, speaking at the Premier League's launch of a £500,000 fund to provide football kit to schools and youth organisations.

"I would think it's debatable, whether you can't offer him more than a one-year contract because if you offered him one year and he does very well... [Albion would lose him for nothing]. Even that one needs thinking about. And I can't imagine someone wanting to play purely on a pay-as-you-play basis, there's got to be some sort of basic involved, I would guess.

"We made it clear, 'Look, we've done the test, we agree with you, and your man Alex, that the knee's OK and you can play football. And of course if you'd like to come and play for us that would be lovely.' But whether or not our offer is going to be interesting to him, that's what I don't know."

McKechnie is a highly-regarded Canadian physiotherapist who has worked extensively in north American sports with the basketball franchise, the LA Lakers, and the Canadian Olympic football team among others. Hodgson said that Hargreaves was "very sanguine" about missing almost three years of football.

"I think he just wants to play football again. He was bitterly disappointed the way he had to leave English football, but he didn't speak badly about anybody. He was just more concerned, I think, to convince us, or maybe he's trying to convince other teams, that 'Listen, I'm a fit player, you can use me'."

Hodgson said that he would be interested in the England manager's job when Fabio Capello steps down next summer – or earlier if England fail to qualify for Euro 2012 – but that if he was to get the job he wanted to be a popular choice. "I would rather hope if I was ever going to be offered the England job, it would be with the backing of the important people. And that would be of course the people like yourselves [the Press] and of course the fans.

"I think, otherwise, it's going to be a very difficult job for anyone who takes it without the backing, if you like, of these people. Because, even if you've got the competence, you need to be perceived as the right person. And the perception of my Liverpool appointment was not right and as a result, of course, you end up paying for it."