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Jackson and Take That to do battle

Michael Jackson is being tipped as a challenger to Take That for the Christmas number one album after it was announced that newly completed songs are to be released next month.

A collection of the late star's songs, entitled Michael, will go on sale on December 13.

On Friday, bookmaker Ladbrokes installed the album at 2/1 for the Christmas chart-topper, behind Take That's Progress which is favourite at 1/2.

Incomplete recordings which were left by the singer - who died in June 2009 - have now been finished by studio wizards.

One new track, Breaking News, will be premiered next week on his website www.michaeljackson.com.

The decision to release the album has already drawn criticism from one collaborator, Will.i.am from Black Eyed Peas.

He said earlier this year: "He was a perfectionist and he wouldn't have wanted it that way. I don't think that should ever come out."

Alex Donohue, of Ladbrokes, said: "Jacko's new material has got fans hugely excited. It looks like he's thrown down the gauntlet to Take That from beyond the grave."

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