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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 23:50 GMT
Eagles aims high
By Chris Bevan

Chris Eagles
Playing at Watford gives me the confidence you need to make it at Manchester United
Chris Eagles

Chris Eagles has two aims for 2006.

First the 20-year-old winger wants to help Watford win promotion from the Championship during his loan spell at Vicarage Road.

Then he hopes to establish himself in the Manchester United first-team on his return to Old Trafford in the summer.

Eagles, 20, has been in impressive form since joining the Hornets in January, helping Aidy Boothroyd's side win seven of the eight league games he has played in.

He has notched three goals in the process - including a spectacular long-range winner against Brighton which was reminiscent of his hero David Beckham's against Wimbledon in 1996.

Watford was the perfect move for the Hemel Hempstead-born midfielder, who was on the club's books as a youngster and spent a successful loan spell there last season.

"I was confident that when I came back here I would be settled," he told BBC Sport.

"I miss the United players but then I am back home with my family and my mates who I grew up with so I have got the best of both worlds.

"I knew the young players here had the talent because I grew up with them. They have done really well in the past few months and the other players have helped me settle in too. They have been great.

"When the new gaffer (Boothroyd) came in last year I thought it might take a little while for him to show what he can do - and this season he has.

"He is more confident than other managers I have worked under. I like to be encouraged and he does that - he tells me to keep going which is good for me."

Sir Alex Ferguson wouldn't have given me a four-year deal if he didn't think I could make the breakthrough at United
Chris Eagles

Eagles knows the experience he is gaining under Boothroyd will stand him in good stead when he is back in Manchester.

"Playing at Watford gives me the confidence you need to make it at United," he added.

"That is why I have come here, to play first-team football and at a decent level. You grow in confidence with every game.

"At United I would be playing reserve-team football, with maybe the odd first-team game here and there. That is not good enough - I need to be playing week-in, week-out and I am just happy to be doing that here.

"I need to get used to the added pressure of playing in first-team games in front of bigger crowds. At first you get nervous and make mistakes - but you have to get over that and that is what I am learning to do."

He has no doubt his future lies at United - where he signed a long-term contract last summer - but in the short term, his loyalties lie nearer to home.

"My plan is to go back to United and break into the first team next season. Staying on loan at Watford could be an option but I just want to crack on at United and see what happens," Eagles said.

"Sir Alex Ferguson wouldn't have given me a four-year deal if he didn't think I could make the breakthrough there.

"But winning promotion here is the first thing I want to do.

"United will deal with itself. I am here at the moment and that is what I am focused on."




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