Mar 26, 2011

Euro 2012: France labour, Spain and Italy win

share on facebook

David Villa scored twice to bring Spain from behind to beat the Czech Republic 2-1, and eclipsed Raul as Spain's all-time goalscorer in the process.

Spain were trailing to a 29th-minute wondergoal from Jaroslav Plasil but Villa fired home from the edge of the area in the 69th minute, moving clear of Raul's record of 44 goals and relieving the tension in Granada.

Less than five minutes later, he added the second from the penalty spot after Jan Rezek fouled Andres Iniesta in the area. The win sends Spain six points clear of the Czech Republic at the top of Group I with a 100% record.

The return of Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery failed to inspire France as, for the second time in their campaign, they laboured to a 2-0 win over Luxembourg.

Evra and Ribery were back in the team for the first time since their misdeeds at the World Cup contributed to their side's humiliating first-round exit.

But the result with the pair in the team was the same as the result without them as goals from Philippe Mexes and Yoann Gourcuff saw them to a 2-0 win, just as when the sides met in France in October.

Netherlands turned on the style as they cruised past Hungary 4-0 at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium in Budapest.

Tottenham playmaker Rafael van der Vaart gave the visitors an early lead and Ibrahim Afellay's goal shortly before half-time ensured the scoreline reflected Holland's dominance. Simple second-half goals for Dirk Kuyt and Robin van Persie ensured the Oranje moved six points clear at the top of Group E.

Northern Ireland took a heavy blow in Belgrade as they conceded twice in the second half to surrender a hard-earned lead against Group C rivals Serbia.

Only some brave last-ditch defending stopped them going behind but when Gareth McAuley rose to head home Chris Brunt's cross in the 40th minute, a famous victory looked on the cards.

But Serbia, playing in the near-deserted Crvena Zvezda Stadium as a result of crowd trouble against Italy, hit back through Marko Pantelic before Zoran Tosic drilled in the winner via a slight deflection.

Thiago Motta's second-half strike handed Italy a narrow 1-0 win over Slovenia in Ljubljana.

The Brazilian-born midfielder, who made his debut with the Azzurri in last month's friendly against Germany, struck in the 73rd minute to hand the Italians their first-ever win on Slovenian soil.

The result has lifted Italy six points clear of second-place Slovenia at the top of Group C after five games, bringing them significantly closer towards qualifying.

Belgium gave their hopes a huge boost with a much-needed and convincing 2-0 victory over Austria in Vienna.

Having collected only four points from their opening four games, Belgium needed a big performance against a team which started the night second in Group A. And they got what they were looking for as Axel Witsel scored early in each half and they restricted the hosts to a series of half-chances.



Hungary 0-4 Netherlands

share on facebook

Holland turned on the style as they cruised past Hungary at the Ferenc Puskas Stadium in Budapest.

Tottenham playmaker Rafael van der Vaart gave the visitors an early lead and Ibrahim Afellay's goal shortly before half-time ensured the scoreline reflected Holland's dominance. Simple second-half goals for Dirk Kuyt and Robin van Persie ensured the Oranje moved six points clear at the top of Euro 2012 Qualifying Group E.

The game was one-sided from the early stages as, after Gergely Rudolf's effort tested visiting goalkeeper Michel Vorm, Holland immediately broke upfield to open the scoring. Wesley Sneijder threaded a delightful ball into the box and Van der Vaart ran onto it to finish low under the left hand of veteran goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly, who should have done better.

Zsolt Laczko was off target with an ambitious attempt from wide on the left before Van Persie was booked for fouling Jozsef Varga. Overlapping Dutch full-back Erik Pieters then appeared to be bundled over in the box but did not appeal and no penalty was forthcoming. Kiraly then dived full length to unconvincingly scramble Sneijder's fierce 30-yard free-kick away from goal.

Balasz Dszudszak threatened at the other end, dancing through two defenders and drilling in a shot from out wide, but Vorm gathered easily. Afellay skewed a shot well wide after being played in by Van Persie and a Hungarian counter-attack broke down after captain Zoltan Gera twice took the wrong option.

Kuyt lashed wastefully wide after breaking behind the Hungarian defence and Hungary's Vladimir Koman was booked as a bad challenge prevented Afellay launching a quick breakaway. Afellay was not to be denied, though, and lashed home his third international goal a minute before half-time after the ball was squared to him by Gregory van der Wiel.

Hungary coach Sandor Egervari introduced Peter Czvitkovics and Krisztian Vadocz for Koman and Varga at half-time in a bid to turn the game around. But Holland continued to look brighter and Van Persie forced a good save from Kiraly, who then turned Van der Wiel's effort around the near post.

Gera's shot was tipped over by Vorm but Kuyt soon made it 3-0. Van Persie was sent clear by Sneijder and squared unselfishly for the Liverpool forward to tap into an open goal. Hungary began to lose their discipline and Akos Elek and Vilmos Vanczak were booked in quick succession.

It was 4-0 shortly afterwards, with Arsenal's Van Persie this time the beneficiary of Van der Wiel's square ball after awful defending from Roland Juhasz. Eljero Elia replaced Afellay before the restart. Sneijder almost embarrassed Kiraly with an outlandish long-range chip but it rebounded off the crossbar and the goalkeeper saved well from Kuyt's follow-up header.

Veteran Ruud van Nistelrooy was introduced alongside Kevin Strootman eight minutes from time, Kuyt and John Heitinga making way. Dzsudszak curled a free-kick over the bar and Vorm saved from Czvitkovics and the PSV Eindhoven winger to preserve Holland's clean sheet. Two pitch invaders in stoppage time got closer to Vorm's goal than Hungary had for much of the game, but they were cleared by stewards and the final whistle followed moments later.



Serbia 2-1 N Ireland

share on facebook

Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying for Euro 2012 from Group C suffered a setback as Serbia came from a goal down to win 2-1 in Belgrade on Friday night.

Gareth McAuley scored with a looping header into the top corner from Chris Brunt's left-foot free-kick in the 15th minute, his second international goal.

Marko Pantelic levelled when he turned and unleashed a low left-foot shot under Lee Camp after 65 minutes. Zoran Tosic scored the winner with a shot from the edge of the area on 74. Worthington's side were trying to extend their unbeaten run in Group C to four matches at the almost deserted Crvena Zvezda Stadium in Belgrade.

Only 240 Northern Ireland supporters and a handful of officials from both countries were in attendance as Serbia were forced to play the game behind closed doors following crowd trouble at their European qualifier against Italy in Genoa last year. Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington put his trust in youth as Craig Cathcart, Jonny Gorman and Corry Evans were all named in the starting line-up.

The first chance of the game fell to Brunt but his left-foot effort flew just wide of the post in the 13th minute. Two minutes later McAuley cleared a Branislav Ivanovic shot off the line at the other end of the pitch. Serbia squandered a wonderful chance to break the deadlock in the 22nd minute when Adem Ljajic fired over the bar from close range under pressure from two Northern Ireland defenders.

Soon after, Dejan Stankovic tried a speculative shot from 25 yards but debutant goalkeeper Lee Camp easily gathered the ball. Northern Ireland took the lead in the 40th minute when McAuley scored with a looping header into the top corner from Brunt's inswinging left-foot free-kick from the right.

Kyle Lafferty could have extended the visitors' lead two minutes later when he beat a defender but shot over the bar from 15 yards when well placed to score. Record goalscorer David Healy replaced his Rangers team-mate Lafferty at the start of the second half and almost made an immediate impact.

Gorman floated in a cross from the left wing but Neven Subotic cleared the ball off the foot of Healy as he prepared to shoot. Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Camp made his mark in the 53rd minute, making a spectacular reflex save after Ivanovic met a corner with a strong header. The ball fell loose on the goal-line but Gorman hacked the ball clear.

Healy then received a yellow card for handling the ball, a booking which rules him out of Tuesday night's game against Slovenia in Belfast. Serbia levelled in the 65th minute when the ball broke to Pantelic inside the area and he turned sharphy and unleashed a low left-foot shot under Camp. The home side continued to exert pressure and Aleksandr Kolarov danced his way past two defenders but his shot was deflected wide for a corner.

The pressure eventually paid off when Milos Ninkovic went on a surging run and passed the ball to Tosic, whose shot from the edge of the box flew into the net past Camp, with the aid of a slight deflection off Craig Cathcart. Worthington introduced Warren Feeney and Pat McCourt as substitutes but his side were unable to fashion an opportunity to equalise.

Serbia: Brkic, Ivanovic, Subotic, Bisevac, Kolarov, Tosic, Ljajic, Krasic, Stankovic, Milijas, Pantelic.

Subs: Saranov, Jovanovic, Petrovic, Obradovic, Ninkovic, Trivunovic, Ilic.

Northern Ireland: Camp, Cathcart, McAuley, Hughes, J Evans, C Evans, Baird (capt), Clingan, Gorman, Brunt, Lafferty

Substitutes: Tuffey, Craigan, Thompson, McCann, Healy, Feeney, McCourt



Ramsey honoured to be skipper

share on facebook

Aaron Ramsey admits it is a 'special' honour for him to have been named Wales' youngest-ever captain. The Arsenal midfielder will lead his country into battle against England on Saturday in their Euro 2012 qualifier. Running out with the armband on at the Millennium Stadium will complete a remarkable turnaround for the youngster, who suffered an horrific broken leg while on club duty just over a year ago.

The 20-year-old, who was selected as skipper by Gary Speed ahead of more experienced colleagues, admits he is delighted to have been handed the captaincy and hopes his performances on the field will justify his manager's faith. "I feel over the moon and honoured to be captain of my country at such a young age," said Ramsey.

"Ever since I was a boy I have wanted to be a professional footballer and to captain my country one day. That day has come now and it's a very special moment for me. It was a bit of a surprise, but a very nice one. I am just happy that he [Speed] has given me this opportunity to become captain and now I hope to lead by example in the way I play. I won't be screaming and shouting. I just have to lead by example. There are 10 other players out there who could easily be captain.

"It's probably one of the biggest games you can play in. It's going to be a great and special occasion for me to lead the team out in front of a full house at home against England."

Aston Villa's James Collins and Swansea's Ashley Williams were among those believed to be in the running for the captaincy and Ramsey admits he is fortunate to have so many seasoned professionals alongside him. He said: "There is a lot of experience throughout the team. Craig Bellamy has been captain before, Collins has had lot of experience. I'm sure they won't need telling what to do, because they are so experienced."

Ramsey admits he would not want to be the one to have to tell Cardiff's on-loan frontman Bellamy that he was in the wrong, so he is hoping the former national skipper has a good game. He said with a smile: "I get on with Craig pretty well and we talk quite often. If he needs shouting at I won't be the one to do it, but hopefully that won't need to be done."

The Gunners starlet has also spoken of his joy and having seen his career turn full circle in the space of 12 months. "It just shows the highs and lows of football and how quickly things can turn around," he said. "I broke my leg just over a year ago and that was a really low period for me. This is now the best moment in my career so far and it's amazing how quickly things can turn around."



Luxembourg 0-2 France

share on facebook

The return of Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery failed to inspire France as, for the second time in their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign, they laboured to a 2-0 win over Luxembourg. Evra and Ribery were back in the team for the first time since their misdeeds at the World Cup contributed to their side's humiliating first-round exit.

But the result with the pair in the team was the same as the result without them as goals from Philippe Mexes and Yoann Gourcuff saw them to a 2-0 win, just as when the sides met in France in October. It was a struggle for Les Bleus from start to finish.

Indeed, it was the hosts who threatened first, as Lars Krogh Gerson got his head to Gilles Bettmer's free-kick, but Hugo Lloris made a comfortable save. At the other end, Florent Malouda got on the end of Bacary Sagna's cross but could only deflect the ball wide from close range.

Aside from a long distance effort from Ben Payal which did not threaten Lloris, there was little in the way of goalmouth action until France broke the deadlock. It came from Samir Nasri's free-kick after Tom Laterza fouled Malouda, with Mexes nodding the ball home from six yards.

Still chances were at a premium, but as half-time approached, Luxembourg goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert was twice tested. First he parried Sagna's strike from 30 yards following Yoann Gourcuff's corner, then he turned away a strike from Karim Benzema from inside the box.

In stoppage time, Malouda presented Joubert with a more comfortable save. If France were hoping Luxembourg would wilt in the second half, they were to be disappointed. Les Bleus simply could not break their hosts down, despite dominating possession.

The first chance of note in the second period took nearly 20 minutes to arrive, and even then it went to Luxembourg as Bettmer's effort from 12 yards was blocked by Sagna. Moments later France did finally threaten, but Adil Rami's header from Malouda's corner was weak and into the hands of Jubert.

In the 66th minute Benzema fired a rare chance wide, but six minutes later France got a second as Gourcuff fired home from the edge of the area. Still things were not simple for France, with Benzema sending a close range strike wide of goal, while at the other end Mario Mutsch failed to test Lloris with a free-kick from a dangerous position.

With moments to go Joubert parried Franck Ribery's effort into the path of Benzema, who could not find the target with his follow-up shot.



Euro 2012 round-up: Villa record

share on facebook

David Villa came to Spain's rescue as the striker became his country's record goalscorer in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Czech Republic in Granada.

Jaroslav Plasil's long-range drive just before the half-hour gave the visitors a surprise lead in the Group I match.

But midway through the second half Villa took control, first beating Chelsea goal keeper Petr Cech with a low shot and then a penalty soon after.

In 72 games for Spain, Villa has scored 46 goals - two more than Raul.

The former Real Madrid striker took 102 matches to score 44 times for Spain but Villa's 46 goals have come in 72 games.

The victory ensured Spain, who have 12 points from four games, protected their 100% record - as did Netherlands whose easy 4-0 away win over Hungary was their fifth successive Euro 2012 Group E qualifying victory.

Rafael van der Vaart gave the 2010 World Cup runners-up the lead in the eighth minute with Ibrahim Afellay adding a second just before the break.

Dirk Kuyt beat Hungary's offside trap to make it 3-0, with Robin van Persie completing the rout in the 62nd minute.

The Dutch have a maximum of 15 points after five matches, six ahead of Hungary.

Italy took control of Group C after beating Slovenia 1-0 in Ljubljana thanks to Thiago Motta's 73rd-minute goal.

In only his second appearance for Italy, Brazil-born Motta fired into the corner for his first international goal to take Italy onto 13 points, six ahead of Slovenia after five matches.

Goals by Philippe Mexes and Yoann Gourcuff gave France a 2-0 win in Luxembourg in a match that witnessed the international returns of Patrice Evra and Franck Ribery, following their respective five-match and three-match bans.

Evra and Ribery, who both had quiet games, were subjected to boos by the 2,000 French fans who had travelled to the Josy Barthel stadium.

Mexes headed in a Samir Nasri free-kick on 28 minutes to give those fans something to cheer about, with Gourcuff volleying in the second goal on 72 minutes.

France have 12 points from five games, four points ahead of Belarus, who travel to third-placed Albania on Saturday.

Axel Witsel scored early in each half as Belgium coasted to comfortable 2-0 win over Austria in Group A in Vienna.

Witsel beat goalkeeper Jurgen Macho to the ball and headed in on six minutes before the Standard Liege player volleyed in his second on 50 minutes.

The win took Belgium level with Austria on seven points - five behind group leaders Germany, who play Kazakhstan on Saturday and have a 100% record from their four games.



Mar 25, 2011

Gerard Houllier's law at Aston Villa casts shadow over future of eight players

share on facebook

At least eight senior players are considering their Aston Villa futures after details emerged of Gerard Houllier's attempts to arrest an alarming slump in the club's fortunes. It is understood several senior figures are disgruntled enough to be giving serious thought to their futures, including Gabriel Agbonlahor, Stiliyan Petrov, Richard Dunne, James Collins, Brad Friedel, Ashley and Luke Young and Stephen Warnock. Sportsmail can reveal that, apart from banning mobile phones in the dressing room, Houllier has imposed severe financial penalties for any breach of rules and has introduced a procedure for any player wanting to contact owner Randy Lerner. First again: How Sportsmail broke the news on Wednesday Revolt: (Clockwise from top left) Ashley Young, Richard Dunne, Brad Friedel, James Collins, Stephen Warnock, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Stiliyan Petrov and Luke Young There is a sliding scale of fines for players who break the rules. Latecomers for training, meetings or pre-match gatherings will be fined 10 per cent of their weekly wage for a first offence, 20 per cent for a second and 30 per cent for a third. Any grievances will have to go through Houllier, after he stipulated that players wishing to speak to Lerner must seek his permission. The Villa boss is hoping the crackdown will reverse the drop in morale that has accompanied the team's decline in the Barclays Premier League. It could backfire, though, with rumblings of discontent coming from almost the entire first-team squad. Villa are hovering close to the drop zone, and despondency seems to have deepened since the new rules were introduced. According to sources close to the squad, there is resentment at the changes coming so late in the season, when they need to stand united to fight relegation, and at being 'treated like schoolkids'. Lerner is backing Houllier but is bound to be perturbed by further signs of team spirit unravelling at the start of an eight-game run-in that ends with a trip to Arsenal and a home match with Liverpool. Houllier's brief reign has been beset by problems, with just six wins from 25 Premier League games leaving Villa one point above the bottom three. Troubles: Gerard Houllier is attempting to keep his players under control A disheartened Ashley Young has given up hope of a Champions League place with Villa and will seek a move to a top-four club at the end of the season, as revealed in Sportsmail. Manchester United are leading the chase, with Liverpool and Tottenham also monitoring the situation. Agbonlahor and Petrov have both had spells on the bench of late, while Dunne and Collins were involved in a drink-fuelled fracas at a health spa. Chief executive Paul Faulkner reiterated his support for Houllier, saying: 'Our best chance of staying up is with Gerard.' But the rules have done little to enhance harmony, with at least two players seeking advice on whether to follow them.  Houllier rewrites the rules as Villa stars rebel over new code of conductDowning admits it's a relief to join up with England after Villa woes Aston Villa planning summer raid for wantaway Man City stopper Given All the latest Aston Villa news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Ashley Young, Stiliyan Petrov, Richard Dunne, Gerard Houllier, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Luke Young Places: Liverpool



Sagna wants action in wake of Scholes tackle

share on facebook

Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna has called on referees to offer more protection to players after criticising Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes for a tackle on Samir Nasri.

Sagna was angered by Scholes' challenge on his team-mate in the FA Cup quarter-final between the two sides on March 12, particularly given that Arsenal have suffered two very serious injuries to Eduardo da Silva and Aaron Ramsey in recent seasons.

The French defender suggested that foreign players are targeted for rough treatment and that officials need to do more to eradicate dangerous tackles from the game.

"We've had two broken legs," Sagna told AP. "We went to Manchester and Samir got his leg ripped off again. There's nothing (done about it). They always wait until there is a major incident to make a decision, and then it's too late.

"He almost had his leg cut off. If he breaks his leg what shall we say? It's too late. The problem is you can't have a discussion with them, you can't have a debate.

"Samir should perhaps change nationality, I don't know ... I don't want to get into such a debate, I don't want to concentrate on that because I have much more important things to think about. I get the impression it's like that, maybe I'm wrong."

Sagna also conceded that Arsenal need to improve their communication and collective effort after conceding a farcical goal against West Brom, just weeks after the Carling Cup final defeat to Birmingham that witnessed a horrible error.

"We have to talk to each other a lot more, we have to pull together, encourage each other," Sagna said. "At certain times I feel we are lacking this."

"When you make all those efforts, you reach the League Cup final, which is at Wembley, and then we soil ourselves, that's not normal. We were beaten in every domain, they won the most tackles, and honestly deserved it."



Chelsea capture Brazilian Piazon

share on facebook

Chelsea owner Abramovich has already spent heavily this season

Piazon, 17, cannot join until he turns 18 next January, meaning the transfer window in the same month is the earliest he can complete his move.

The Brazil youth international is "expected to join on a long-term deal", Chelsea said on Friday.

Chelsea have not disclosed the fee but reports have said it could reach £10m.

Yet to play for Sao Paulo, Piazon is currently with the Brazil Under-17 side at the South American Championship in Ecuador, where Brazil have won two and lost one of their opening three group matches.

Piazon has so far scored twice, a winning goal against Venezuela and in Brazil's defeat by Paraguay.

He had been linked with a switch to Juventus before Chelsea made their move.

Blues owner Roman Abramovich has already spent heavily on one Brazilian this season, signing defender David Luiz from Benfica for more than £20m in January, with Spaniard Fernando Torres also arriving at Stamford Bridge, for £50m.

As well as Luiz, midfielder Ramires and defender Alex are the other Brazilians in Chelsea's first-team squad.

Sao Paulo, the club that produced Kaka, have already seen former players succeed in the Premier League, including Juninho at Middlesbrough.

Juliano Belletti was at the Brazilian outfit from 1996 to 2002 before playing for Chelsea from 2007 to 2010.



Speed smooths over Bale row with Redknapp

share on facebook

Wales manager Gary Speed has moved to avoid a potential club-versus-country row by describing a dispute with Harry Redknapp over the fitness of Gareth Bale as a "misunderstanding".

Bale has been ruled out of Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against England with a hamstring injury, and Speed said on Thursday that the winger had picked up the problem at Spurs prior to his arrival with the national team.

However, Redknapp was adamant the winger was feeling fine after completing 90 minutes for Tottenham in their goalless draw against West Ham at the weekend.

"I wouldn't have let him go if he had an injury," Redknapp told the Daily Mail. "Gareth played for 90 minutes against West Ham on Saturday and they tell me the figures from that game show he covered more ground than he's ever done before.

"There was no sign of a hamstring injury. He's not come in after the game and said his hamstrings were tight. When he left here on Saturday, off he went and he certainly wasn't injured.

"He hasn't had a hamstring injury. He had a back, then he had a tight thigh and we've been very careful with him. Now he's got a hamstring. He must've done it with Wales. I'm not blaming anyone. It's no one's fault."

However, Speed explained in his press conference on Friday: "I haven't spoken to Harry. We swapped telephone messages and everything is fine. It was a misunderstanding so that has been nipped in the bud and that is fine."

It is the second time that Wales have been forced to clarify their position to avoid angering Tottenham, with Speed's assistant Raymond Verheijen having to state that a reference to "incompetent amateurs" on his Twitter account was directed at journalists who reported Bale trained on Wednesday, rather than the Premier League club.

Meanwhile, with Tottenham's Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid less than a fortnight away, Redknapp is hopeful Bale will be ready after a week's rest, although he admits there is a risk of further aggravating the injury.

"The first I heard of it was at 10 o'clock on Wednesday night when our physio called me," Redknapp said. "I feared the worst but he's seen our physio and it's only tightness. There's no tear but if he plays and it pings, he's had it."



William Gallas Delays Signing New Tottenham Contract Until Champions League Future Is Sorted

share on facebook

White Hart Lane veteran is offered new deal but delays decision.

Tottenham Hotspur defender William Gallas will not sign a new contract at the club unless there is Champions League football on offer next season.

The 33-year-old signed a one-year deal last summer after joining on a free from fierce rivals Arsenal. The France international is a key player for manager Harry Redknapp and has helped the club into the Champions League quarter-finals in their debut appearance in the tournament.

Gallas has said he is open to signing another deal with Tottenham but wants to see if the club can retain their place among Europe’s elite.

Spurs currently lie fifth in the table, just outside the four qualification spots but if they win this year’s competition they will gain entry for next season.

Redknapp confirms negotiations have started with the veteran, who he regards as  ’one of the signings of the season’.

“The chairman’s doing a deal,” Redknapp told the Daily Telegraph

“William fully deserve it, he has been top class. He’s a nice man, a quiet man who just gets on with it.

“He could have gone abroad during the summer and made money, but the deal he did with us was an awful lot less than he was on at Arsenal.

“He has been one of the signings of the season. He has been magnificent for us and has played nearly all the games.”



Liverpool Will Sign Either Chelsea or Galatasary Winger

share on facebook

Anfield club see either Stamford Bridge or Turk Telekom Arena players as next stage of rebuilding.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalgish will attempt to sign either Chelsea’s Florent Malouda or Galatasary’s Arda Turan in the summer.

The Scot realises his team need more width and wants a player to supply plenty of crosses for target-man Andy Carroll.

Dalglish sees either player as good enough but any move depends on Chelsea’s transfer ambitions.

The West London club have also been linked with a move for Turan and if they sign the Turkey international it will allow Malouda to leave and for Liverpool to pounce.

But the Reds will make a move for the 24-year-old anyway, who has his heart set on a move to the Premier League.

“He can only go to one of the top five clubs in the Premier League,” said Turan’s representative Ahmet Bulut.

“If he gets an offer from one of them, then of course he will want to play there.”

Bidding for either player is likely to start around the £15million mark.



Capello criticises Ferdinand

share on facebook

Capello has reinstated Terry as captain ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifier with Wales after a year's 'punishment' following high-profile personal issues and is now set to lead the Three Lions out at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Capello claims he was 'upset' for Terry during the game with Denmark when the captain's armband was handed out to a number of players while the Chelsea defender watched on.

An injury to Ferdinand means the Manchester United defender is unable to link up with the squad but rumours suggest that he is unhappy with the way the matter was dealt with, only finding out Capello's decision through the media.

However, the Italian has now laid the blame at Ferdinand's door by claiming he did not come to meet him when he visited Old Trafford for a UEFA Champions League clash earlier in the month.

Capello said: "It didn't happen, he didn't come. He didn't come."

Asked why the pair did not meet, he added: "This is a question for him, not for me. I was in the directors' box.

"I tried to meet him (Ferdinand) when Manchester United played against Marseille but he told me no.

"I can understand everything, but I need to make decisions. I think I will be happy and will meet him in the future."

Capello also admitted making mistakes during his handling of the captaincy, saying: "Sometimes I regret what happened. It is possible to do some things better, but it is the past.

"I can understand everything, but I need to make decisions."

Meanwhile, the former AC Milan coach has defended his decision to give the armband back to Terry following a year in the wilderness.

Terry has spoken of his pleasure at being reinstated and Capello admits his mind was made sure during the friendly against Denmark in February.

"Something happened in my mind when I saw the armband being passed around during our game in Copenhagen," he remarked.

"We changed it in the second half and it was unfair for John Terry to see this.

"I thought that it was time for John Terry, after punishment, to return and be captain.

"I know that Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard are not fit. I knew it was the moment, with one game which is so important, to have one captain like John Terry.

"I spoke with the players and personally with some players, and I spoke with the squad before I decided that John Terry will be the captain, and all the players were happy because John Terry was always a very important leader on the pitch and to the team."

England take on Wales in what is an important game in their quest to qualify for next year's tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

Capello is aware of the significance of the contest in Cardiff and was keen to discuss the match rather than the issue of the captain.

He said: "Are we here to speak about the captaincy or the Wales game? It is a really important game tomorrow."



Real Madrid Youngster Turns Down Liverpool Move

share on facebook

Spanish Under 21 international opts against Anfield move.

Real Madrid youngster Sergio Canales has revealed he rejected a loan move to England in January despite being the subject of interest from a number of clubs. Having made just seven appearances in La Liga for his club so far this season, it would have been understandable if the 20 year-old had sought first team football elsewhere – at least on a temporary basis – and there were certainly Premier League clubs willing to give Canales a chance. Liverpool, West Ham and Fulham are believed to be the three interested parties, but the former Racing Santander wonderkid wants to prove to his coach Jose Mourinho he can cut it at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

“During January I had options to move to England, but I want to repay Mourinho and the club’s trust in me,” he told Marca. “I don’t regret moving to Real Madrid and I knew that this first year would be tough. It’s not great when I’m not in the squad but I want to show what I can do on the pitch.”

SOURCE: Sportingo

Since his move from Racing Santander to the Bernabeu talented youngster Sergio Canales has battled manfully to get Jose Mourinho’s attention and it seems that he may well have succeeded. The 20 year old has been used more frequently in recent weeks and months and though he clearly will have to battle through a mountain of talent at the Spanish giants, he seems up for the task.

Clearly the fact that the signing of Sergio Canales was completed before Mourinho arrived at the club would have left the attacking midfielder wondering where he future lay, but the Spanish Under 21 international wants to stick at it.

However perhaps a loan move would have been a useful way to get first team experience but a temporary move that would have taken him abroad would have been unlikely. Kenny Dalglish and director of football Damien Comolli in particular, were interested in bringing Canales to Anfield as they looked to add more creativity to their attack.

However the recent fine displays from the likes of Luis Suarez, Raul Meireles and indeed Dirk Kuyt, have helped make the Merseyside club a more effective unit going forward. New signing Andy Carroll still needs time to bed in, not least because the England international is also fighting back from injury.



Manchester United Target Ultra Violent Owen Hargreaves Replacement

share on facebook

Old Trafford keen on young Belgian with penchant for red cards.

Manchester United target Axel Witsel will leave Standard Liege this summer after telling the club he wants to go. The combative midfielder – who once copped an eight-match ban for a horror lunge that broke a player’s ankle – has been at Liege for five years. And Witsel, 22, has told club officials he intends to leave in the summer, sparking a Europe-wide fight for his signature.

Witsel snapped the ankle of Anderlecht’s Marcin Wasilewski in 2009 and received death threats over the x-rated tackle. The feisty midfielder has since gone on to become one of the most sought after players in the Belgian league, but Witsel wants out of Liege and a move to a major European club. Manchester United have monitored Witsel before – as well as Liege team-mate Steven Defour – while Chelsea have also scouted the midfielder in the past. And Liege are preparing for life without him following talks at the club last week.


Axel Witsel is indeed a talented up and coming midfielder with a great deal to offer but his career has become more well known for his shocking challenges rather than his ability to break up opposition attacks he is known for breaking legs. There was of course the very famous incident from 2009 when he put in an x-rated tackle on Marcin Wasilewski, the kind of which would make the likes of Nigel De Jong wince, but that isn’t the only time Witsel has pulled off a shocking tackle.

The 22 year old has a history of such incidents, in April 2009 he deliberately kicked an opponent whilst on international duty and was banned for four games and then six months later was the infamous leg break challenge against Anderlecht. Last December he received another red card for a deliberate stamp on a Cercle Brugge player after which he bizarrely blew kisses to the opposition supporters on his way off the pitch.

In some ways Witsel if more like a Paul Scholes as he does drive forward and scores his fair share of goals but it is thought that Sir Alex Ferguson’s interest relates to his apparent need to add more steel to his midfield. Owen Hargreaves is unlikely to be offered a new contract in the summer and the likes of Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Anderson offer various attributes but none of the trio are strictly defensively minded.

Paul Scholes himself is clearly a less advanced player than he was in his pomp and much speculation suggests that Ferguson is ready to bring in midfield reinforcements, but would he really make a move for this bruiser?



Gareth Bale's injury is a hammer blow to Gary Speed

share on facebook

As well as his very obvious talent as a cultured yet combative midfielder, Gary Speed was blessed with the durability that enabled him to set a Barclays Premier League appearance record. David James eventually beat it, but Speed notched up 535 games before dropping down a division then going into management. Here in Cardiff on Thursday, the  41-year-old manager of Wales had to deal with the loss of a player who is proving rather more fragile and someone whose absence has changed the whole complexion of Saturday's European Championship qualifier with England. Centre of attention: Gareth Bale's withdrawal from the Wales clash with England is a major boost to Fabio Capello Speed was fairly philosophical about Gareth Bale's latest injury, making the very sensible point that the player's welfare comes first and that 'it is more about the next three-and-a-half years than the next three-and-a-half days'. Understandably, with players like Bale and Aaron Ramsey emerging, he hashis sights on the 2014 World Cup. But you could sense Speed's frustration, even if he did dismiss suggestions that Welsh were being over-protective and that Bale might be one of those players who is so finely tuned the slightest niggle convinces him he cannot play. Hot Spur: Tottenham are concerned by Bale's injury record Harry Redknapp has certainly sensed that in the 21-year-old, which is why the Tottenham manager has been known to stop the physio running on when the winger appears to be injured. Speed did joke that he could probablyhave played with Bale's injury, although only because he was nothing like as 'explosive'. But he also said he expected Bale to be fit to playas early as next week in time for the first leg of Spurs' Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid. 'I understand what you're saying,' said Speed in response to a question about Bale's fragility. 'But the scan did show there is an injury.' Clearly, though, even the Welsh medical staff were not convinced there was a serious problem. The scan, said Speed, was ordered for Bale's 'peace of mind' and you sense there was an element of  surprise when it did come back showing minor damage to that incredibly well-defined hamstring. The row that developed between Tottenham and the Welsh FA was rather baffling. Speed was the model of diplomacy, and he had to be after some dangerously ambiguous tweets fromhis assistant Raymond Verheijen. While Redknapp is perfectly entitled to believe Bale was not injured after playing 90 minutes at the weekend,the Welsh can hardly be accused of causing the problem when the youngster doesn't appear to have kicked a ball since joining his international colleagues. He sat out their sessions on Sunday and Monday, suffered discomfort in the warm-up on Tuesday and sat out Wednesday's session as well. Verheijen did not exactly help matters by complaining of 'incompetent amateurs'. Speed insisted it was directed at the newspaper that had reported Bale's injury as something he had suffered in training on Wednesday. But Spurs would be perfectly entitled to think the insult was directed at them. Speed confirmed his assistant had been reminded of his responsibility to the Welsh FA and told to pack it in. And rightly so. 'Funny to read about Gareth Bale injuring his hamstring in training,' Verheijen tweeted. In England maybe, but not in Wales. Plan of action: Fabio Capello has been boosted by the news of Bale's injury With news filtering through to the England camp of Bale's injury, things certainly seemed to be more relaxed. Fabio Capello was concerned about thethreat posed by Bale. He considers him 'the best player in the world', and while Peter Crouch was right to argue that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo remain superior, how to best deal with a player who destroyed Inter Milan earlier this season was going to dominate England's preparation. Long-term plan: Gary Speed will miss Bale but is confident his impact on Welsh football will stretch further than this weekend Now the pressure is off a fair bit, and having been banned from playing golf by Capello on Wednesday the England players were back on the course on Thursday. Everyone bar Ben Foster, who has a fever, was also said to be fit, allowing Capello to continue experimenting with a number of attacking options. It is fair to say thatBale's presence would have almost certainly seen James Milner deployed as protection for Glen Johnson on the right. Now England can afford to be a bit more cavalier, Aaron Lennon might play there. Capello is still considering his options up front as well. Andy  Carroll's lack of first-team games has persuaded him to examine Darren Bent as well as partner to Wayne Rooney.A decision will be made today but the Aston Villa striker is a serious contender.   On Thursday Gareth Barry said life under Capello had become less intense since the World Cup and the players were not quite so intimidated by the Italian. 'On the training pitch nothing has changed,' he said. 'He's still pretty hands-on. If there's anything not right he's stamping down on it. But maybe around the hotel he's maybe a bit more relaxed, and the players seem a bit more relaxed around the manager. 'Players used to arrive 20 minutes before a meeting. There was more pressure on the players to be everywhere at spot on the right time. Now I think the  feeling around the place is a lot more relaxed and more enjoyable.' With Bale out that was certainly the case.  It's your fault! Gareth Bale was fine when he went to join Wales, claims Harry RedknappYou're kidding: Wilshere and Carroll caught up in club-versus-country rowFabio Capello's five key questions ahead of England's Euro 2012 clash with WalesCaptain Rambo! Ramsey to skipper Wales on his return against England VIDEO SPECIAL: Wales 4 England 1 - day Greenwood's men were run ragged ] Explore more:People: Fabio Capello, Glen Johnson, Harry Redknapp, Gareth Barry, Aaron Lennon, Lionel Messi, Gary Speed, Darren Bent, Cristiano Ronaldo, Peter Crouch, David James, Wayne Rooney, James Milner, Gareth Bale, Ben Foster Places: Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom



Chelsea and Man City Battle for AC Milan Veteran Midfield Maestro

share on facebook

Stamford Bridge and Eastlands sides chase Italian international.

Roberto Mancini is ready to battle Carlo Ancelotti to land AC Milan’s midfield ace Andrea Pirlo. The star is set to leave the San Siro on a free transfer, because Milan want him to accept a substantial pay-cut in exchange for a new deal as they try to trim their wage bill. Chelsea’s former Milan boss Ancelotti remains keen on the Italy playmaker after failing to land him last year and will try again – if he’s still in charge this summer.

Manchester City struggled for creativity when Adam Johnson was injured recently and manager Mancini feels Pirlo could bring a different dimension to his developing side. He is also attracted by his compatriot’s experience – Pirlo has won many top honours in the game, including the Champions League and World Cup. Mancini feels he needs seen-it-all operators such as Pirlo in his squad as he builds a title-winning team at Eastlands, especially as Patrick Vieira is widely expected to quit this summer.

SOURCE: Daily Mirror

It seems that Andrea Pirlo’s lengthy spell at the San Siro is set to come to an abrupt halt due to wage demands that the 31 year old Italian international is not willing to give in to. Therefore he is being presented with two options to significantly increase his bank balance as well as to forge a new era in his footballing career.

After almost a decade in the AC Milan first team there is little that Pirlo has not achieved and one can see why both Chelsea and Man City would want to sign the talented midfielder, regardless of the fact that he may only have a few years left in the tank.

To be fair Pirlo’s game has never been about speed so perhaps there is still much he can achieve. Chelsea however appear to be looking to deal with their ageing squad so not sure how this transfer would fit into those plans. Also taking into account Carlo Ancelotti has the likes of Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Ramires and John Obi Mikel to squeeze into the centre of his midfield, one wonders where the AC man will fit?

Manchester City may have more need for Pirlo’s creativeness as they can appear quite brittle going forward and clearly Roberto Mancini will no alot about a player he has crossed swords with on a number of occasions.



Aston Villa And West Ham Battle Over Liverpool Flop

share on facebook

Anfield club look to offload high-earner with Villa Park or Upton Park his most likely destination.

Aston Villa and West Ham United are leading the chase to buy Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole.

The 29-year-old moved to Anfield on a free transfer last summer but has struggled to adapt to life on Merseyside.

He has suffered injuries and a drop in form meaning he has not established himself in the starting line-up. Kenny Dalglish has opted to use the likes of Maxi and Dirk Kuyt out on the wings and this has led to even fewer first team opportunities than under Roy Hodgson.

Liverpool are willing to listen to offers for the England international to get him off the wage bill.

Cole is believed to be earning £90,000 a week and manager Kenny Dalglish wants to free up that money for a new signing.

Villa boss Gerrard Houllier would welcome the playmaker into his squad as he searches for a replacement for the Manchester United-bound Ashley Young.

The Frenchman sees Cole playing just off striker Darren Bent, a position that is sure to attract the former Chelsea player.

Cole could also make an emotional return to his boyhood club West Ham.

Manager Avram Grant is keen to work with him again after a brief spell together at Stamford Bridge.

Cole is still loved by the Hammers faithful and would welcome him back with open arms but any deal will depend on the Irons avoiding relegation.



Wales v England preview

share on facebook

Wales will look to keep their fading Euro 2012 dreams alive when they welcome neighbours England to the Millennium Stadium.

Having opened their qualification campaign with three defeats, Gary Speed's side know they have a mountain to climb if they are to end their long wait for a place at a major tournament.

The Dragons are fast running out of time in their efforts to reach the 2012 European Championships in Ukraine and Poland, suggesting they are poised for further international heartache.

Confidence needs to be restored to a side that has tasted defeat on its last four outings, scoring only one goal in the process.

Speed will be hoping that Wales can turn the corner on Saturday, in his first competitive fixture since inheriting the national reins from John Toshack.

It could be that a meeting with England is just what the Dragons need, with a full house in Cardiff expected to generate a red-hot atmosphere.

The Three Lions will enter the game, though, knowing that they have prevailed in the last two meetings between the two nations - during qualification for the 2006 World Cup.

They have, however, alternated between victory and defeat on their last five visits to Wales and were that record to continue this weekend, they would leave with nothing.

England's recent away record suggests they are capable of bucking that trend, with a defeat in the Ukraine after they had already booked their place at the 2010 World Cup representing the only setback they have suffered on the road in their last six outings.

Goals have also been in plentiful supply for Fabio Capello's men of late, with only Montenegro and Algeria having kept them out in their last 13 fixtures.

More goals and another three points against Wales this weekend would be enough to take England to the top of Group G on goal difference, with current leaders Montenegro not in action.

Wales' build-up to the game has been dominated by contrasting fortunes for two of their most promising young stars.

News that Tottenham winger Gareth Bale has suffered a hamstring injury and will play no part on Saturday has come as a major blow to the hosts, as he was widely acknowledged as the man most capable of causing England problems.

Speed is, however, delighted to have Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey available again and has opted to hand the 20-year-old the captain's armband, making him Wales' youngest-ever skipper.

That role was up for grabs after Craig Bellamy decided to step aside, but the on-loan Cardiff striker will still be an important part of Speed's plans.

Sam Vokes, who has recently agreed a loan switch to Norwich, has replaced the injured Robert Earnshaw in the Wales squad and will be vying for a striking berth alongside the likes of Steve Morison, Simon Church and Ched Evans.

England's preparations have also generated plenty of headlines, with Capello having decided to hand John Terry the captaincy again, 13 months after the Chelsea centre-half was stripped of the honour and replaced by Rio Ferdinand.

Injuries to Manchester United defender Ferdinand and vice-captain Steven Gerrard, who will again be missing this weekend, convinced the Italian that it was time for a U-turn.

The Three Lions saw Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster withdraw from the squad on Friday with a throat infection and his place has gone to West Brom's Scott Carson.

Everton's Phil Jagielka is expected to provide cover for Ferdinand, while youngsters Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll are again pushing hard for starting berths.

Kyle Walker, currently taking in a loan spell at Aston Villa, and Wolves winger Matt Jarvis will be hoping to make their senior debuts in Cardiff.



David Beckham handed armband to skipper LA Galaxy

share on facebook

Former England captain David Beckham will skipper the Los Angeles Galaxy this weekend when they visit Real Salt Lake. Beckham has been handed the armband by Galaxy boss Bruce Arena with regular captain Landon Donovan away on international duty with the United States. 'Bruce has asked me to wear it,' Beckham told 'I'd be proud to wear it. I'm looking forward to that.' Logical choice: Galaxy boss Arena had no hesitation in handing Beckham the armband Beckham was initially made captain when he joined the club in 2007 from Real Madrid but relinquished the role to Donovan when he joined AC Milan on loan in 2009 and missed the start of the MLS season. Arena said the decision to turn back to Beckham, albeit on a one-off basis, was quite simple. 'He's a logical choice and he's worn the captain's armband here before and probably in a couple of other places as well,' he said. 'I don't think it's asking too much. It's not too overwhelming for him.'  Capello's five key questions ahead of England's Euro 2012 clash with WalesAdam, Bale, Vidic and co: Guide to the stars up for player of the year awardEight years after England debut, how did Jeffers become a Fox on the rocks?Carson called up to England squad to replace injured keeper Foster  Explore more:People: David Beckham Places: United Kingdom



Tottenham To Offer Defender William Gallas New Deal

share on facebook

According to the Telegraph, Tottenham are set to offer defender William Gallas a new deal. Gallas joined the club on a free transfer last summer and signed a one-year deal, although the contract will extend another year for playing in 30 games. Manager Harry Redknapp said,

“The chairman’s doing a deal … William fully deserve it, he has been top class. He’s a nice man, a quiet man who just gets on with it.

“He could have gone abroad during the summer and made money, but the deal he did with us was an awful lot less than he was on at Arsenal. He has been one of the signings of the season. He has been magnificent for us and has played nearly all the games.”

This entry was posted on Friday, March 25th, 2011 at 5:16 am and is filed under Tottenham Rumors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



Tottenham Likely to Sign Manchester United Defender This Summer

share on facebook

Old Trafford man heading for White Hart Lane.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp is set to take advantage of defender Wes Brown’s falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United by signing the full back this summer. The England international and his manager at Old Trafford have reportedly not seen eye to eye for some time now, with the 31 year old barely having been spotted in a United shirt in recent seasons after the pair had a spectacular falling out last summer. And, with Redknapp known to be in the market for a new right back at the end of this season due to continued and lingering doubts over current duo, Croatia international Vedran Corluka and his understudy at White Hart Lane, Scotland international Alan Hutton, it is believed the Tottenham boss will make a move for Brown. Brown himself has told friends that he does not expect to be offered a new long-term deal to stay with United and would relish the chance to resurrect his career in north London.

SOURCE: Sportingo

Having reportedly fallen out with Sir Alex Ferguson earlier in the season it was only a matter of time before the experienced utility man looked at making an exit and if Tottenham are genuinely interested then it could well be a good move for the England international to make.

Wes Brown has featured a few times this season but in reality the only reason that he has figured in Ferguson’s plans at all has been down to suspensions and injuries forcing his hand and to be honest when called in the Manchester United man has not covered himself in glory and it seems like this summer would be the right time to move on.

The emergence of Chris Smalling at Manchester United has seen Brown slip down the pecking order at centre back with Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans also ahead of the one club man. At right back he has similarly been usurped by Brazilian youngster Rafael with John O’Shea also standing in his way.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp has split right back duties at White Hart Lane between Vedran Corluka and Alan Hutton with neither really securing the position as their own and much has been made of the North London club’s various injury concerns at the centre of their defence with the likes of William Gallas, Jonathan Woodgate, Michael Dawson and Ledley King all having had their fair share of time out with various knocks.



Captain Ramsey: My 'best moment'

share on facebook

New Wales captain Aaron Ramsey has called being given the armband "the best moment of my career so far" - believing it to be an indication of how quickly fortunes can change in football.

The 20-year-old midfielder has spent the best part of the last year recovering from a horrendous broken leg, but will now lead out his country against England at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

"It just shows the highs and lows of football and how quickly things can turn around," Ramsey said. "I broke my leg just over a year ago now, and that was a really low occasion for me, but now this is the best moment of my career so far.

"It's obviously a very special moment for me - and my family. My mum and dad have driven many miles over time to help me to get where I am today so I'd like to thank them as well."

Ramsey was given the nod after a brief discussion with coach Gary Speed on Thursday, admitting that he was not expecting the appointment.

"It was a bit of a surprise, but a very nice one," he said. "Hopefully I can lead by example by the way I play. I'm not a screamer and a shouter but the way I play I hope to lead by example. But it's not just me, there'll be ten other captains out there."

Ramsey believes Wales can cause England problems in their Euro 2012 qualifier, even without the injured Gareth Bale.

"Obviously it's a massive loss, but we also have quality that can replace him and I'm sure the player who takes his place will do more than a good job," Ramsey noted. "We know as a team what we are capable of doing and we will go into the game thinking we can do something and get a positive result."

Ramsey could line up against Arsenal team-mate and fellow young tyro Jack Wilshere in the match in Cardiff, with Wilshere tipped to start for the Three Lions ahead of Frank Lampard in some quarters. Ramsey hinted there is a healthy rivalry between the two rising stars of British football.

"I haven't spoken to Jack this week, but obviously we spoke a bit about [the game] last week. Obviously if we're both playing I'll look forward to the task," he said.

"I'm trying to get back into the first team at Arsenal on a more regular basis, but Jack's done well this season. I want to win the game and he wants to win the game."

Ramsey also took some advice from Manchester United winger and former international captain Ryan Giggs, who visited the Welsh camp on Thursday to offer support and guidance.

"He just wished me all the best, and to take things in my stride," Ramsey noted. "[He said] just enjoy the occasion of being captain of your country.

"It definitely gives everyone a lift when you see a player who has achieved so much in the game come down to watch us and give us support."

Wales manager Gary Speed was full of praise for his young skipper and said he is ready for the challenge.

"His personality on the pitch is exceptional and everyone looks up to him. He was going to captain Wales one day, so why not now? He's got the respect of everyone."



Liverpool To Make Move For £9.5m Birmingham City Defender

share on facebook

St Andrew’s hero could be on his way to Anfield.

Sky Sports reports Dalglish is keen to reshape the Reds’ defence and wants Dann to be at the heart of it.

The 24-year-old has worked his way up through the leagues with Walsall, Coventry and excelling at Birmingham City.

He has established himself as one of the best English centre-halfs in the Premier League but has been ruled out for the season following hamstring surgery.

The former England U21 player is rated by Birmingham at £9million, after spending £3.5million to bring him to St Andrew’s in 2009.

A number of clubs have Dann on their radar, most notably Manchester United and Arsenal, but Dalglish is determined to get his man.

But the new director of football Damien Comolli believes there are better options available on the continent but the Scot wants a Premier League proven player.



Liverpool Lead Chase for £18m Rated Top Notch Centre Back

share on facebook

Anfield boss wants Reebok Stadium star.

Liverpool and Arsenal are reportedly leading the chase for Bolton defender Gary Cahill. The 25-year-old’s future has been the subject of intense speculation over recent months and Metro reports that things will come to a head when the transfer window reopens in the summer. According to Metro, ‘serious’ interest from Liverpool will galvanise Arsenal into spending upwards of £18 million in order to land the centre-back, while Bayern Munich are also expected to register an enquiry. Both Liverpool and Arsenal are thought to be in the market for defensive reinforcements, with the latter seemingly more in need of bolstering their ranks at the end of the season. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has also previously been outed as an admirer of the imposing England international and could be prepared to go toe-to-toe with Arsenal in pursuit of Cahill.

SOURCE: Give Me Football – Official PFA Website

Gary Cahill has been in fine form this season and under Owen Coyle’s guidance the Bolton man has cemented his place in the England national team set-up and is now a player strongly linked with moves to ‘bigger’ clubs and one wonders if the Trotters will cash in on the 25 year old this summer? Apparent debt issues may lead the club to sell the former Aston Villa man and indeed the January capture of Danny Wheater leads many to believe that if the right offer was to come in then they would accept it.

Liverpool are apparently leading the chase for the Sheffield born centre back and Kenny Dalglish is reportedly a big fan of the determined defender and given that two of Anfield’s current crop of central defenders are getting on a bit, Jamie Carragher (33), Sotirios Kyrgiakos (31), then perhaps a bid is on the cards.

Dalglish also has Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger to call upon and have youngsters Daniel Ayala and Danny Wilson to boot, however Cahill is arguably as good as those named and has the kind of leadership qualities that could mark him out as the next Jamie Carragher.

Arsenal and Bayern Munich are also said to be keen on Cahill.



Tottenham Consider Move for Unhinged Manchester City Striker Mario Balotelli

share on facebook

White Hart Lane boss wants Eastlands youngster.

Real Madrid are watching Mario Balotelli’s situation at Manchester City. AC Milan remain favourites for the ex-Inter striker, who is expected to be dumped by City in the summer. However, his former coach at Inter, Jose Mourinho, is also watching developments, according to Milan sources. Tottenham are also being linked with the Italy international, though those close to Balotelli say if he is to leave City, it will be to return home to Milan.

SOURCE: Tribalfootball

Is Harry Redknapp’s love of playing the transfer game really likely to stretch as far as to make a move for troubled Italian Mario Balotelli? Tottenham’s current quartet of strikers have struggled badly to find the back of the net in Premier League action this term. Peter Crouch, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe have netted just 11 Premier League goals between them this term and as a result the White Hart Lane boss is reportedly frantically searching for new additions.

Recent comments from Roberto Mancini suggest that he too has ran out of patience with the 20 year old former Inter Milan man and interest from Real Madrid would be surprising as Jose Mourinho would surely no better than most just what a disturbing influence Balotelli can be in the dressing room.

Even a move to AC Milan would make little sense given the myriad of striking options available to San Siro boss Massimiliano Allegri.



Jagielka expects spicy Wales game

share on facebook

England defender Phil Jagielka expects Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales to have extra "spice" because of the countries' traditional rivalry.

Jagielka could play alongside reinstated captain John Terry as England aim to go top in Group G.

"Both teams will be wound up from the off and the fans and the coaches will want a fast start," Jagielka said.

"There'll be a little bit of spice from the first whistle, which can hopefully only be a good thing for us."

While Jagielka conceded there are nations who "don't particularly like England", he said it was vital his team-mates retained their focus as they try to close the three-point gap to Montenegro.

"There's nothing we can do about that [nations not liking England], we've just got to go out there and do a professional job," said the Everton centre-back.

"I don't think we can afford to take a draw, we definitely have to go there for a win to get to the top of the table, three points is what we're going for.

"We're looking forward to it. When the draw came out we were delighted we got Wales because it will be a good game for the neutral and hopefully for the England fans."

Meanwhile, midfielder Gareth Barry feels the emergence of Jack Wilshere is good for England, while acknowledging the teenager could displace him in the side.

Wilshere will handle the atmosphere against Wales no problem
Former England captain Alan Shearer

With Steven Gerrard injured, Wilshere, Barry, Frank Lampard and Scott Parker will be vying to start.

Manchester City's Barry, 30, said: "I've never come to England squad and expected to be in a team and that's still the same.

"When players like Jack burst onto the scene it's extra competition.

"It's going to make selection for individuals tougher but I'm still sitting here, training hard and hopeful of being selected and if I am I'm confident I can put in a performance for my country.

"It's good for England that there are players like Jack who are bursting through and tougher for individuals to get their places."

Arsenal midfielder Wilshere started England's last game against Denmark, and Capello recently said the midfielder is one of the best young players he had seen.

Barry replaced the 19-year-old at half-time during the 2-1 victory in Switzerland, and has 45 England caps compared to Wilshere's two.

But before that game Capello was gushing in his praise for Wilshere, likening him to players such as former AC Milan greats Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi and former Real Madrid star Raul.

Barry relaxed about midfield selection

And following Arsenal's Champions League last-16 ties against Barcelona, where the Gunners lost 4-2 on aggregate, Capello re-iterated his belief in the player, predicting he would be a future England captain.

Barry agrees that Wilshere had improved rapidly.

"The more somebody is involved and the more somebody plays the more their confidence grows and that's what I've seen in Jack Wilshere this year," he said.

Former England captain Alan Shearer also believes that Wilshere has the right temperament to deal with a fierce atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

"Wilshere will handle it well," Shearer told BBC Sport. "He's played in the Nou Camp against Barcelona and at the Emirates Stadium where Arsenal beat Barca, and arguably he was the Gunners' best player on both occasions.

"So he'll handle the atmosphere against Wales no problem."

Wales are bottom of the group, having lost their first three games.

But Barry believes past form will have little bearing on the game, which is the first between the two countries since 2005, when a Joe Cole goal earned England a 1-0 victory.

"Like any derby where a team has not started well, form goes out of the window," Barry said.

"All their players are going to be pumped up desperate to beat England. It's going to make it tougher for us, especially with Wales boss Gary Speed in charge for his first qualifying game.

"He will have the players stoked up with a full house behind him so we're expecting a tough game and we will give them the respect they deserve."

Jagielka added his belief that the game will be similar to that of a Premier League match.

"Maybe the pace of the game will be a little bit quicker than we are used to on the international stage but we've got the players to deal with that," he said.

"It would have been nice for Wales to have won all their games beforehand and made it more of an even contest in some of the public's eyes - we know we're clear favourites going into the game, but unfortunately clear favourites don't always win."



Manchester United Consider Using Berbatov In £20m Serie A Swap Deal

share on facebook

Old Trafford side to use top scorer to land Italian international?

Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi is reportedly looking to secure a move to Old Trafford in the near future, in a deal which could see striker Dimitar Berbatov go in the opposite direction.
The Italian is considering moving his family out of the city after his father-in-law was murdered and he is now understood to be the victim of a blackmail campaign.

He also admitted to falling out with the Stadio Olympico faithful: ‘They (Roma fans) used to treat me as one of their own, they would tell me to throw in another elbow, but now the wind has changed.’
Representatives of the central midfielder are understood to have met officials at the club to make them aware of his availability next summer, indicating the World Cup winner’s desire to move to Manchester.
De Rossi still has over a year left to run on his £60,000-a-week contract in Rome, but the opinion of the Italian media is that he could in fact be the centre of a transfer battle in August, with a number of clubs tracking his situation.
Real Madrid have been linked with the £20 million-rated star and Roma have indicated they would not stand in the way of the 27-year-old if he wished to leave the club.
Roma are reported to be interested in signing Dimitar Berbatov, who has been used sparingly in recent weeks by Sir Alex Ferguson despite being United’s top scorer, and it is rumoured that de Rossi could be involved in a cash-plus-player deal in the summer.


This move would be something of a surprise given that Manchester United are reportedly looking to offer Bulgarian international Dimitar Berbatov a brand new contract in reward for his successful efforts this season. However the former Tottenham man may consider his options given that of late he has been left on the bench whilst Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney have been forming a pretty useful partnership.

Given that Berbatov is now 30 years of age, he won’t want to be wasting his best years on the Old Trafford bench and may be tempted by a new challenge but a lot would depend on whether caretaker boss Vincenzo Montella were to stay on as Stadio Olimpico boss beyond this season as it is unlikely a player would move to a club only to see the boss who bought him leave, and therefore potentially leave the purchased player hoping to be to the new boss’s liking.

Sir Alex Ferguson is known to be a fan of Daniele De Rossi so perhaps the Man United boss would be open to some sort of swap deal, but only if Berbatov were to push for such a deal. One has to feel for the stylish striker, after two decent seasons where he was pilloried for lacking an end product and lacking the ability to be a 20-25 goal a season man, when he finally does start to become prolific, 20 goals in 22 Premier League starts, he then finds it hard to get a regular spot in the starting eleven.



Artificial clouds could keep 2022 World Cup cool

share on facebook

Visitors to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar could be kept cool by artificial clouds, according to Qatari scientists.

A country that has already pledged to air condition stadiums in order to combat extreme heat in the summer months, with temperatures approaching 50 degrees Celsius, has now unveiled another innovative solution to the problem.

Scientists at Qatar University claim to have invented a synthetic cloud which could shield stadiums and training grounds from oppressive heat. It is reported each cloud could cost in the region of $500,000. The project will be developed in conjunction with Qatar Science and Technology Park.

Saud Abdul Ghani, head of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Qatar University, said: "Artificial cloud will move by remote control, made of 100% light carbonic materials, fuelled by four solar-powered engines and it will fly high to protect direct and indirect sun rays to control temperatures at the open playgrounds."

Qatar's surprise success in winning the right to host the tournament in 2022 was immediately followed by real concerns that extreme temperatures would create health problems for competitors and spectators alike.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had suggested that the tournament could move to the winter, although football's governing body has since clarified this will not happen.

"Any potential move of the 2022 FIFA World Cup from a summer to a winter period would have to be initiated by the football association of Qatar and would have to be presented to the FIFA Executive Committee," FIFA said in a statement in January. "At this stage there are no concrete plans to change the international match calendar."



Arsenal Boss to Sell Six Stars to Help Build £40m Transfer Fund

share on facebook

Arsene Wenger to conduct Emirates clear-out this summer.

Arsenal are ready to conduct a major clear-out of his Emirates squad regardless of whether he manages to lead the Gunners to the Premier League title. Arsene Wenger will look to offload a number of under-performing players as well as ditch others who are stalling on contract talks as he looks to generate significant funds to re-invest in big name signings this summer.

Gael Clichy is seemingly unsure as to whether he wishes to stay at the club he has spent eight years at and after the latest round of contract talks broke down, Wenger is now ready to listen to offers for the French international left back, not least because he has a ready made replacement in Kieran Gibbs raring to take the 25 year old’s place. The likes of Real Madrid and Juventus are thought to be interested in the former Cannes defender.

After dropping yet another clanger Manuel Almunia is likely to be sold just as soon as a side comes in with a decent offer and a move back to Spain appears to be on the cards. Utility man Emmanuel Eboue signed a contract extension at the tail end of last year but again if an offer of note was to come in for the Ivory Coast international then Wenger is prepared to allow the 27 year old to leave.

Brazilian midfielder Denilson has found first team football hard to come by this term and after managing 36 Premier League starts two seasons ago and 19 last term the tough tackling youngster has started just six top tier matches this season and is being chased by a number of Bundesliga sides as well as Serie A sides Genoa and Juventus. Arsene Wenger will consider offers for the Sao Paulo born battler and the player himself may be keen on a new challenge.

Though Sebastien Squillaci only arrived last summer the former Sevilla man is also in danger of being sold after a very mixed season that has seen the French international make elementary errors and could be axed if Wenger manages to bring in a new centre back with the likes of Gary Cahill and Serdar Tasci being high up on his list of potential signings.

Finally it appears that the Arsenal boss will look to field offers for Danish international Nicklas Bendtner who had something of a run-in with Wenger earlier in the season when the big striker made it clear he was not happy at his lack of first team opportunities and there appears to be a great deal of interest from the continent in the 23 year old forward. It is thought that Mexican international Carlos Vela could avoid being included in the cull thanks to his energetic and effective displays on loan at West Brom.

Wenger it seems does not have as much in the way of a transfer budget as some would imagine but the clear-out is not only being put into operation to balance the books but also being enacted to help usher in a new era of success at the North London club.



Redknapp: I wouldn't sell Modric for £1bn

share on facebook

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp claims no amount of money could tempt him to part with Luka Modric.

Modric, 25, has been key to Spurs' recent success and has subsequently been linked with many of the top teams in Europe. Juventus and Inter are among the clubs said to have expressed an interest of late, and the player's agent, Mario Mamic, was forced to dismiss speculation in Italy on Thursday.

"These are just rumours," Mamic told Calcio Mercato. "Luka has a contract until 2016 and Tottenham have no plans to sell him. He has an excellent relationship with the coach, Redknapp, and only signed a contract extension with Spurs last summer."

Redknapp, asked about the midfielder in an interview with Croatian newspaper Sportske Novosti, reiterated that Spurs would not entertain any offers.

"I wouldn't want to sell him for ?100 million," Redknapp said. "Not even for a billion. He's the hub of the team."

It appears the future is less certain for the rest of Tottenham's Croatian contingent. Niko Kranjcar has expressed a desire for first-team football and, while he rejected a move to Werder Bremen in January and then scored match-winners in successive games against Bolton and Sunderland in February, he has not started a game since.

"Niko's a great player and a great guy, very polite, but the guy just has no luck," Redknapp said. "I don't want him to leave the club - he was fantastic last season - but we've got Gareth Bale out on the left of midfield.

"Believe me, he'll be back in the team. I don't know when, but he will be back."

Asked about suggestions Vedran Corluka could leave White Hart Lane, Redknapp said: "I would be sorry to lose him.

"He's a really upbeat guy, always does what I ask him, but unfortunately he suffered the injury in that stupid challenge from Flamini [at AC Milan] and it ended that great run of form he was in."

Goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa added to the club's Croatian contingent when he joined on loan from Spartak Moscow, but he has made just one appearance for Tottenham.

Redknapp said: "Pletikosa has been really good in training, but what I would say is, 'What would you do in my position if you had Heurelho Gomes? Gomes is in great shape, and you can't play everyone."



Arsenal's Robin van Persie blasts whining Chelsea and Barcelona

share on facebook

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie last night spiced up the title race by branding Chelsea  a team of moaners  who spend too much time complaining to referees. Van Persie, whose side are four points ahead of Carlo Ancelotti's team in the fight to win the Barclays Premier League, labelled such behaviour 'b****y annoying' and 'unsporting'. The Holland forward, 27, who was sent off as  Arsenal went out of the Champions League against Barcelona earlier this month, also laid into the Spanish champions for excessive moaning. Bothersome: Robin van Perise says Chelsea's constant bleating leaves a bitter taste As he prepared for Holland's Euro 2012 qualifier in Hungary on Friday night, Van Persie said: 'Barcelona's players have the habit of  whingeing about every- thing, and that is disappointing. In England, Chelsea's players behave in the same way. 'Barca are a great team, but they shouldn't overdo the moaning as they become b****y annoying. They dispute every decision, with five  players confronting the referee. I like their style of play, but find them unsporting as well. Not guilty! Van Persei protested his innocence when sent off against Barcelona 'They behaved like this in their two games against Arsenal. It was not so clever and rather unsportsmanlike.' Despite calling Barca the best team in the world, Van Persie did give encouragement to the three English teams left in the Champions League, adding: 'I rate them more highly than the Spanish national side, but they can be beaten. I felt in no way inferior to their players.'  Ferguson slammed for undermining Respect campaign over ref rantVan Persie: Title in Arsenal's hands... and we won't drop it!Graham Poll: Call that a ban? Sir Alex Ferguson still able to have his sayAll the latest Arsenal news, features and opinionAll the latest Chelsea news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Robin Van Persie, Carlo Ancelotti Places: Chelsea, Barcelona, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Hungary



Mar 24, 2011

Bale could be back in 10 days

share on facebook

Wales manager Gary Speed thinks that Gareth Bale's hamstring injury is unlikely to require more than 10 days of rehabilitation.

The Tottenham star will miss Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against England after the Football Association of Wales announced that he arrived for training at the start of the week at less than 100 per cent fitness.

After pulling out of a training session on Tuesday before having a scan on Wednesday, it was confirmed on Thursday, amid initial confusion as to the cause of the injury, that Bale would be unable to play this weekend.

The 21-year-old has therefore returned to Tottenham and his club will now aim to ensure their star asset is fit for the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg at Real Madrid on 5th April.

Bale had only played three matches for Spurs since returning from more than a month on the sidelines with a back problem, but Speed does not believe that there is reason for the North London club to panic over the latest setback.

Asked if he thought the player was injury-prone, Speed told a press conference broadcast live on Sky Sports News on Thursday: "I don't think he's very fragile, his playing record this season when he played the first 30 games and the way he plays, he is so explosive, there comes a time in a season when he is going to need a rest.

"I'm sure he will play next week, I'm sure it [the injury] is only a 10-day thing."

Despite Bale being highlighted as one of the key players in Wales' bid to beat England in Cardiff, Speed stressed that he is more interested in the long-term rather than the short-term benefits of risking the winger.

"The next three-and-a-half years are more important than the next three-and-a-half days," added the former Sheffield United boss, who has inherited a side without a point from three matches in Euro 2012 qualifying Group G.

"We want to be successful and the best way we can be successful is to get our players out on the pitch in the best shape they can be."



Chelsea to Sell Didier Drogba for Just £5m?

share on facebook

How much? Stamford Bridge side to let Ivory Coast star leave on the cheap?

Galatasaray are planning a summer bid to lure Didier Drogba from Chelsea. The Turkish club believe Drogba may be available for a knockdown £5million as Chelsea aim to overhaul their squad. Galatasaray cannot match Drogba’s £120,000-a-week wages but hope a hefty signing-on fee plus large bonuses and a two-year deal will prove tempting.

SOURCE: Express

What? Not quite sure how The Express arrives at the figure of £5m unless this is a valuation of one of Didier Drogba’s toes as opposed to the entire Ivory Coast international striker? It seems plausible that the 33 year old could leave Stamford Bridge if he felt that he may not be a first team regular, however given Fernando Torres’s poor start and the instant impact the Chelsea star made when he came on against Man City last weekend, a move may not be on the cards after all.

There has been much speculation that a move to Turkey or Marseille could occur, some sources even stated the possibility of an MLS switch, however any fee for the prolific marksman would be at least double what is quoted here.

We are after all talking about a player who was the Premier League’s top scorer last term. Carlo Ancelotti opted for a front pairing of Torres and Salomon Kalou for the Man City encounter but that partnership did not exactly blow anyone’s mind and it was veteran’s Drogba and Nicolas Anelka who saved the day and helped breath new life into the West London side.

There has also been speculation that Galatasaray may look to cement a swap deal that would see playmaker Arda Turan go the other direction, that at least is a rumour that has a semblance of believability about it.



Wilson: Arsenal made summer bid for Reina

share on facebook

Arsenal legend Bob Wilson has revealed Arsene Wenger made "a big bid" for Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina last summer.

Reports emerged in the press last summer that Arsenal had made a substantial bid for Reina, with The Sun claiming it was worth £23 million and the Daily Mail putting it at £25 million.

Wilson has now confirmed that Wenger - who has faced criticism for his failure to sign a top-class goalkeeper - did make an offer for the Spain international.

"Arsene tried like mad to buy not only a goalkeeper but what he considered to be the most consistent in the country, so he made a big bid for Pepe Reina," Wilson told talkSPORT.

"That didn't come out because that's not Arsene Wenger's way of doing it and it's not Arsenal's way of doing it, but he did attempt to do that."

While an injury crisis has forced Wenger to re-sign Jens Lehmann on a rolling contract, the emergence of Wojciech Szczesny has at least provided hope that Arsenal now have a goalkeeper capable of establishing himself long-term.

Wilson believes that Wenger would have had to have allowed Szczesny to leave the club had Reina joined.

"I think he would have lost, without any doubt, the young kid Szczesny, who I believe is going to be the future," Wilson added. "It's most unfortunate he has had this injury and in the game that he had it, but I happen to think Szczesny is going to be a great goalkeeper. The boy is ready now - you ask Arsenal fans."



Kyle Walker Is Going Nowhere Says Tottenham Manager

share on facebook

White Hart Lane boss wants highly-rated youngster back at the club after Villa Park loan spell.

Tottenham Hotspur defender Kyle Walker will return to the club next season after his loan spell at Aston Villa, according to his manager.

The 20-year-old is having a remarkable second-half of the season at Villa Park culminating in his call-up to the England squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Wales and the friendly with Ghana.

His success has inevitably led to speculation linking him with a move away from White Hart Lane, with Gerard Houllier keen to make him a permanent signing.

But Spurs boss Harry Redknapp insists Walker will challenge Alan Hutton and Vedran Corluka for a place in the first-team next season.

“Kyle will be back here for sure, he’s still learning and got miles to learn but he is a talent, a real prospect,” Redknapp said.

“He has got all the attributes to be an England right-back of the future. He’ll come back here and push for a place.”



Speed - No Spurs bust-up

share on facebook

You don't put any blame on Spurs at all, because he played 90 minutes on Saturday and he got through 90 minutes.

Gary Speed on Gareth Bale
Quotes of the week

Wales v England
2pm, Sat, Sky Sports HD2, Sky Sports 2, in Sky 3D and online with Sky Player
Click here to remote record TV Guide.

There's more live football on Sky Sports than ever before, including the Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Clydesdale Bank Premier League, England away Euro 2012 qualifiers and La Liga. With four live Sky Sports channels, as well as Sky Sports News, you'll never miss a moment on Sky. Click here for more.

Wales manager Gary Speed insists that there has not been a breakdown in the relationship with Tottenham in the wake of Gareth Bale's injury.

The Spurs winger has been ruled out of Saturday's Euro 2012 qualifier against England in Cardiff after pulling out of a training session on Tuesday due to a pre-existing hamstring injury, before missing Wednesday's session in order to go for a scan.

There had been conflicting reports as to when Bale sustained the injury and Speed's assistant manager, Raymond Verheijen, mentioning 'incompetent amateurs' on Twitter was interpreted as referring to Tottenham.

But Verheijen has since clarified his statements and Speed is adamant that there has been no fallout with Spurs, who played Bale for the entire 90 minutes of last weekend's draw with West Ham in what was only his third match since returning from a back injury.

Speed, who has named Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey as Wales captain, said at a press conference broadcast live on Sky Sports News on Thursday when asked if Dutchman Verheijen's tweets had been helpful: "Not at the present time, no.

"I think there was a bit of confusion there, because I think what was reported was that Gareth had pulled his hamstring in training yesterday.

"But obviously that reporting wasn't correct because he didn't train yesterday. We do take a lot of time and effort into making sure our players are right.

"So when something is reported like that, it is not right."

Asked whether Verheijen's 'incompetent amateurs' comment referred to Tottenham, Speed said: "In no way did it refer to Tottenham, that's a given.

"I can understand how it might be portrayed that it was. But I think the fact that it was reported that Gareth had done his hamstring in training yesterday when he didn't train yesterday, that is the incompetent bit."

Speed's priority at the Millennium Stadium will be to collect three points after the former Sheffield United manager inherited a side who have lost their opening three matches in European qualifying.

But he has admitted the confusion surrounding Bale has been 'disappointing' after previously dedicating time to send his head of performance to visit Tottenham and other clubs in order to build a positive working relationship.

Speed, though, does not think that there has been any lasting damage, as he said when asked to clarify his disappointment: "It is because we have taken so much time in building those relationships, this unfortunate thing is a total misunderstanding.

"So it is nothing we have done to break that relationship, it is nothing that Spurs have done. It has just been a misunderstanding."

Speed added with regards to Bale's injury: "You don't put any blame on Spurs at all, because he played 90 minutes on Saturday and he got through 90 minutes.

"He has come to us and we have assessed him. Maybe, if we hadn't been so thorough in our looking after him, perhaps he would be training and he would have played.

"But what we don't want is him to play and break down. The players' welfare is of paramount importance and that is what has happened."



Jonny Evans tells Stuart Holden he had no intention of hurting him

share on facebook

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans admits his tackle on Stuart Holden was not a good one but has stressed that he had no intention of hurting the Bolton midfielder. Holden required 26 stitches in a gash in his knee following the challenge during Saturday's Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford, for which Evans was sent off. Evans above: The United defender was shown a straight red card The injury is expected to keep United States international Holden, who has since undergone surgery, out of action for six months, but the 25-year-old has already said via his Twitter account that he does not blame Evans for what happened. Holden also revealed that he had received a 'sincere' phone call from the Northern Ireland international, and Evans told BBC Sport: 'I just said (to Holden) I was sorry, and that I didn't mean to go in and hurt him.' Down and out: Holden faces six months on the sidelines He added: 'At the time I did think I'd gone in for a fair challenge and I'd won the ball. 'But looking back on it when I went straight off the pitch and into the changing rooms and saw the tackle again, I realised it wasn't a good tackle from myself - and my concerns were immediately with Stuart. 'Bolton's doctor was keeping me informed, and gave me a call on Monday. 'It was disappointing to hear the news, (so) I just rang him straight away to apologise. 'I think anyone appreciates a phone call if someone's caused them an injury. 'Not many footballers like to be on the treatment table, it's just unfortunate that someone else has caused an injury to you.'  Evans apologises to Holden as Bolton midfielder faces six months outBolton forgive Evans for horror tackle that hits Holden's semi-final hopesMan United 1 Bolton 0: Has Berbatov's late goal won the title for Ferguson?Bolton FC news, features and opinion  Explore more:Places: Northern Ireland