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Bellamy has Premier League in his sights

Craig Bellamy
Craig Bellamy celebrates his late winner for Cardiff City against Swansea City

By David Dulin
BBC Sport Wales

Craig Bellamy was already a hero among Cardiff City supporters before scoring the superb winner for his hometown club against arch-rivals Swansea City on Sunday.

The on-loan Manchester City striker admitted his overall performance did not deserve a goal but described the moment as "special".

And he believes he is hitting form at the right time to help fire Cardiff into the Premier League.

"I wanted to really turn the screw around about Christmas time," said Bellamy who has suffered with a persistent knee problem.

"For me, it was like another season with 20-odd games left and I know from now until the end of the season I've got a big part to play.

"If I'm up to it, I've got a good chance of doing something."

The 1-0 win for the Bluebirds propelled them above Swansea into third in the Championship in what is proving to be a fierce battle among up to 10 clubs vying for promotion.

Former Wales captain Bellamy's loan switch to Cardiff and a drop down to the Championship was one of the shock transfers of last summer, particularly as he was regarded as one of the Premier League's best performers last season.

And with his arrival, came the added pressure on Dave Jones' men to succeed after losing to Blackpool in last season's Championship play-off final and missing out on a place in the Premier League.

"He came as a massive signing for us," said boss Jones. "It could only have happened if Craig wanted it to happen because he's at the height of his game. He's a Premier League player and he showed that today.

Bellamy delighted with derby winner

"I think when he first came to the club he thought he had to carry it. Now he realises he doesn't have to carry, he just has to be part of it.

"I don't think he realised how tough a division this is and you've got to have good players around you."

Jones admitted bringing in 59-times capped Wales international Bellamy - who has amassed transfer fees totalling £45m - could have backfired, but believes his arrival has helped lift the rest of his squad - the Bluebirds have been in the top five for most of the season.

"When you sign good players, it does one of two things," added Jones. "It either raises the quality already in the dressing room or players can't reach that quality and fall by the wayside.

"But bringing Craig in gave everyone a lift, and bringing in good players alongside him enables him to be at his best.

"Everyone talks about him, but until you actually work with and know him, he's not the person he's sometimes portrayed as by a lot of people.

"He just wants to do the best and he wants the best, and when it doesn't happen he'll have his moan, but I can guarantee you he's not the worst moaner in the dressing room - he's probably about fifth on the list.

"It will all be about Craig [following the derby win] until we play again, but I thought every player who went out and wore a blue shirt was magnificent."

606: DEBATE
Cardiff_Llandaff_Bluebird

Jones' opposite number at Swansea, Brendan Rodgers believes defender Angel Rangel is an example of why Bellamy has found the Championship tougher than he expected.

Rangel, bought for a nominal fee from Spanish side Terrassa in 2007, kept Bellamy quiet for the majority of both south Wales derbies this season, but Rodgers accepts the goal shows the quality of player teams can get when they are able to splash the cash.

"There's a lot of pressure on Cardiff with regards to how much has been spent and having been up there for a few years," said Rodgers.

"I'm big enough to congratulate them and hopefully both teams can push forward and get as high up the table as they can.

"But obviously I'm only interested in ourselves and us to recover well and get back to winning ways.

"We've got to dust ourselves down because we've got another 16 cup finals to play."

And Jones is also hoping it will be two Welsh teams celebrating promotion to the Premier League come the end of the season.

"I mean this from the bottom of my heart, I hope we both do it, and if they don't, I hope we do," he said.

"If both teams keep playing the way we keep playing, there's a very, very good chance.

"Since the heyday of Swansea when they played in the higher division under John Toshack [in the early 1980s], I think it's probably the most stable both clubs have ever been and have probably got the best squads of players for a very long time, and that's a credit to both football clubs."

Both sides fell at the final hurdles last season, but they look in much better shape to climb over them this time around.



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see also
Swansea 0-1 Cardiff
06 Feb 11 |  Championship
Swansea v Cardiff photos
06 Feb 11 |  Wales
Sunday football as it happened
06 Feb 11 |  Football
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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