Belfast Telegraph

Clyne targets Champions League

Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne believes the Champions League is the "next step" in his progression as he looks to keep hold of an England shirt he has been told is his to lose.

The 24-year-old has reportedly attracted the attention of Chelsea and Manchester United but, while "flattered" at such talk, he insists his mind is set on helping the Saints achieve a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League.

Speaking at a FootballFightingEbola charity event, quoted in several national newspapers, Clyne said: "I'm flattered by the interest from the big clubs. It shows that I'm doing well and I've had a good season.

"I'm definitely ambitious. Every player would love to be playing in the Champions League and winning trophies and titles. That's what you play football for - that's the dream.

"I would say [Champions League football] is the next step in my progression. I think I need experience playing European football. We're doing well with Southampton and hopefully we can get there. That would be great. So I'm just concentrating on Southampton. There are a few more games to play, so I'm just concentrating on getting to the fourth spot."

Clyne, who has four senior caps to his name after making his England debut in November, left the most recent international get-together with words of encouragement from Three Lions boss Roy Hodgson ringing in his ears.

"He just said: 'You've done ever so well since coming in. It's like you have been playing international football for a long time. The right-back spot is yours at the moment, if you can continue on'," Clyne added.

"He has the belief I will. He just gave me confidence, really. If I keep on putting in performances and keep on improving as a player, I can hopefully make the position my own and look to make tournaments, and hopefully win tournaments, with England as well. I feel as if I've settled in well at that level with the squad so far, but I'm hungry for more."

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