Brian Howard knows it will be a fight to keep Bristol City up
BRISTOL City new-boy Brian Howard is determined to help keep the club in the npower Championship this season.
A free agent after having his contract cancelled by cash-strapped League One strugglers Portsmouth last month, the 30-year-old midfielder has signed on at Ashton Gate until the end of the campaign.
But his long-term ambition is to help the Robins avert the threat of relegation and earn a deal for the 2013-14 campaign.
Howard made his debut as a second-half substitute in Saturday's 2-1 defeat against Cardiff City in the Welsh capital and is now pushing for his first start at Crystal Palace tomorrow night.
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Having spent six months battling relegation at Portsmouth, the former Barnsley, Sheffield United and Reading star insists he is desperate to stay in the Championship. And he admits his best chance of doing that is to keep City up and earn a long-term deal.
He told The Post: "After the season I've had, I really want to be back in the Championship and I want to stay in it.
"I moved down to League One for whatever reason and decided very quickly that it was not the place for me. I want to play against top players and the top teams and I can only do that in the Championship.
"I'd already decided in November that I needed to move on and get back into the Championship.
"It was unfortunate, because there are some good people at Portsmouth, but it was one of those situations where you had to look after yourself.
"I want to stay in the Championship and there is an opportunity for me to do that with Bristol City.
"If I can help them stay up, there might be an offer on the table at the end of the season. It's that simple."
Howard revealed he turned down offers from other clubs at the wrong end of the Championship, believing City have a better chance of avoiding the drop.
He said: "There would be no point me signing if I felt the club was going down. I think they will stay up and that is why I am here.
"I had offers from other Championship clubs. Like Bristol City, they were clubs that were down at the bottom and fighting to stay up.
"It won't be hard for people to work out which clubs were in for me and where the offers came from. In the end, I felt Bristol City had the best squad and the best chance of staying up. The important thing is to stay in the Championship. Once we've done that, we can sit down in the summer and talk about contracts."
Although Howard only had ten minutes on the pitch at the Cardiff City Stadium, he is hoping he has done enough to earn a place in the starting XI at Crystal Palace tomorrow night.
He added: "Crystal Palace will be another really hard test, but these are the games you want to play in.
"You want to play against the best and test yourself against the best.
"I signed on Thursday and people may have looked at that and thought it was late.
"But I'd already had nearly two weeks of training with the lads and that stood me in good stead. It definitely helped that I could fit in straight away and, hopefully, I'll be able to show a bit more in the games to come."