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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 15:58 GMT
Beattie commits to Saints
Southampton striker James Beattie
Beattie has committed himself to Saints' cause

James Beattie has signed a new contract that will tie him to Southampton until 2006.

The Premiership's top English scorer put pen to paper on a deal on Tuesday after discussions with Saints chairman Rupert Lowe.

Chairman Lowe was keen to keep his star striker and BBC Sport Online columnist Beattie was equally happy to commit himself to the club.

I was more than happy to sign a new deal

James Beattie

Southampton have mounted a challenge for a European spot on the back of Beattie's goals this season.

And new transfer window signings in David Prutton and Danny Higginbotham helped convince Beattie of the club's ambition.

Beattie told BBC Sport Online: "I was more than happy to sign a new deal.

"The chairman convinced me of his ambitions for the club and I think we are going places.

"We have got a good squad here, and the addition of some good young players in the likes of Danny Higginbotham and David Prutton tells me we could be on the brink of something big.

"It's a good club to play for, and I wouldn't have signed a new contract if I wasn't happy here."

Lowe has moved quietly and steadily to sign up his top players.

It is yet another sign that we are building for the future

Saints chairman Rupert Lowe

England Under-21 midfielder Matthew Oakley signed a new contract tying him to St Mary's until June 2006.

Full England international Wayne Bridge signed an extension last summer to keep him at Saints until the same time.

Bridge's elevation to the full England squad has helped convince Beattie that his future lies at Southampton.

Beattie is also hoping his 17 goals this season will earn him his first call-up for the full England squad to play Australia in a friendly.

He said: "Hopefully, it shows that you don't have to move to one of the so-called bigger clubs to play for England."

James Beattie factfile
Oct 96: Premiership debut for Blackburn
July 98: Signs for Southampton for 1m
Feb 99: England U21 debut v France
May 2000: Turns down a move to Crystal Palace
Oct 2002: First Premiership hat-trick in 4-2 win over Fulham
Feb 2003: Signs a new contract which keeps at Saints until 2006

Saints chairman Rupert Lowe said: "It is yet another sign that we are building for the future.

"Everyone is absolutely delighted that James has signed up again.

"He has earned the deal with some tremendous displays this season and some wonderful goals.

"Whenever there has been any speculation about our players we have made it clear we are not a selling club.

"People realise that because we have not had any bids for any of our players.

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