Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere hopes the latest operation on his troublesome ankle will prove the last as he looks to recover full fitness for both club and country next season. The 21-year-old England midfielder is set for surgery in the coming days to remove a pin inserted during a previous procedure, which has hampered his progress during the closing weeks of the Barclays Premier League campaign as he was limited to mostly substitute appearances using painkillers. “I don’t want to miss England games – that’s the pinnacle in any player’s career so you want to be involved in every game you can,” Wilshere said in an interview with Sky Sports. Press Association Wilshere is seen as an integral part of Roy Hodgson’s plans for the World Cup and having missed all the 2011/12 campaign through injury, the combative midfielder is keen to get back towards his top form following another frustrating spell of rehabilitation before heading off with Arsenal for their pre-season tour of Asia. He added: “If we can get there (to the World Cup) it would have been nice to go out there (to Brazil) and see what it’s like and get used to it a bit; get used to the weather and the locals and see what it’s like. There is also the Ireland game, which is a big game too. It’s going to be a good atmosphere at Wembley and it would have been nice to have been there. “But we have got a friendly against Scotland as well (in August) and that will be a big one. “It is an important year for qualifiers next season, so hopefully I can get myself fit and get involved in that.” Wilshere sees no reason why England should not be back in Brazil next summer, currently second in Group H behind Montenegro, whom they face at Wembley on October 11. “We have got ourselves in a good position, and have to think positively,” the midfielder added. “If we win all our home qualifiers we can get to the World Cup and it will be a successful year for England.” Before then, Arsenal face a crucial two-legged Champions League play-off, having beaten Newcastle 1-0 on the final day of the season to remain in fourth place in the league table ahead of Tottenham.
The club has confirmed the 41-year-old former Darlington manager, who joined the Black Cats a year ago, has left. However, insiders insist his departure was an Academy decision and not part of new manager Paolo Di Canio’s plans for an overhaul of the senior set-up. Sunderland have parted company with development coach Craig Liddle. Sunderland recently dispensed with the services of chief scout Bryan “Pop” Robson, while Italian Roberto Di Fanti is expected to be appointed director of football in due course. Press Association
“I thought Simon was brilliant with two brilliant saves at the penalty and the follow-up after that. That was magnificent. “He was brilliant at Sunderland when I was there and he has been brilliant since he came into the club and he will get stronger and stronger and he will be fantastic for Liverpool. “It is a good way to announce yourself at Liverpool. Pepe (Reina) was unbelievable in his time here and Simon has come in and been fantastic and I think he will be a really good signing for us.” Henderson also praised another new arrival Kolo Toure, who has slotted into the back four to replace the recently retired Jamie Carragher. “I thought he was brilliant. He has come in and is a real leader,” he said. “He is talking all the time on and off the field and he has a lot of experience which helps the whole team.” Last season it took Liverpool until late September to register their first league win so with three points already on the board, Henderson believes they can move on with increased confidence. “We wanted to start the season well and from our first win hopefully we can kick on and do well against Villa next week,” he said. “It is a good start, first game, first win and I think we played quite well at times. Hopefully we can build on it. “I think we have kept improving all the time (over the last year). We ended last season quite strongly and we have picked up where we left off. It is a good start but there is a long way to go.” Jordan Henderson is determined to fight for his place as the challenge of holding down a place in Liverpool’s midfield becomes increasingly tough. There were times last year when the England Under-21 international’s days at Anfield appeared to be numbered. Within a couple of months of manager Brendan Rodgers arriving, the midfielder was offered to Fulham as part of a failed bid to sign Clint Dempsey. Press Association Henderson rejected the switch, knuckled down and has found his reward on the pitch having been named in the starting line-up for Liverpool’s opening-day win over Stoke at the weekend. “It is always nice to play, I am sure that is the same for everyone,” said the 23-year-old. “But we are a squad and there will be times when other people come in and I have to keep fighting for my place and hopefully stay in the team. “The most important thing in your first game of the season at home is to win the game and that is what we got.” Liverpool could have beaten Stoke at a canter – Henderson himself could have had at least two, once only being denied by the fingertips of goalkeeper Asmir Begovic who diverted the ball onto a post. The midfielder admits they have to be more ruthless in front of goal if they are to stand a chance of breaking back into the top four, especially with last season’s 30-goal striker Luis Suarez suspended until the end of September. But he also paid tribute to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who saved a late penalty, whom he believes is more than capable of filling the void left by fans’ favourite Jose Reina who was loaned out to Napoli very soon after the Belgian arrived at Anfield this summer. “We had a lot of chances and we should probably have put it to bed a lot earlier but it wasn’t to be and the most important thing was to win the game,” he added.
Andre Villas-Boas felt justice was done as Paulinho’s stoppage-time winner gave his side a 1-0 victory at Cardiff which moved them up to second in the Barclays Premier League table. Press Association Spurs dominated large passages of the game at Cardiff City Stadium, and registered 29 shots to Cardiff’s six, but were in danger of failing to capitalise as they found home goalkeeper David Marshall in fine form. The Scotland international made a string of saves from Roberto Soldado, Christian Eriksen, Paulinho and Gylfi Sigurdsson, and when former Swansea man Sigurdsson did beat Marshall, he was denied by the crossbar. The second saw Ben Turner’s header from a corner chalked off after Aron Gunnarsson was adjudged to have impeded Lloris. But Villas-Boas felt the officials had got it right on both counts. He said: “I haven’t seen it (the first incident), but I understand he was right on the limit. I’m not sure if there is some controversy there. “Most people I have spoken to told me his hand is right on the line. I think if that is the case the referee made the right decision.” Of the disallowed goal, he added: “I think it was a foul for holding Hugo’s arm. We spoke about it between us at half-time and he said he would have been fine if he had not been fouled.” Villas-Boas also confirmed Jermain Defoe’s absence was down to a groin injury, with the striker due to undergo a scan on Monday. While Danny Rose has a toe injury, although not a fracture, but should be available to meet Chelsea next weekend. Cardiff boss Malky Mackay admitted he was disappointed at seeing Turner’s header ruled out, but was more upset with his side’s finishing than Lloris’ early challenge on Campbell. “Hugo Lloris will see it tonight and realise he is a lucky man and the referee will be disappointed in his decision,” said the Scot. “If you look at it again, it is Lloris who has his hand on Gunnarsson and then completely misses the track of the ball so for me it is a clear goal. “The incident with Fraizer is one people will look at whether it was out or in, but we had a one-on-one and Fraizer is invariably brilliant at those, and he is more disappointed he did not skip by him. Whether it was a foul or not is open to question. “We had some real good chances, but it’s about being clinical.” Mackay also praised Marshall’s display, but felt the defeat shows the challenge his side face in the top-flight. “I don’t think what you deserve comes into it, that’s the harsh reality, they were clinical in the last minute and we weren’t in the first minutes when we were through on goal,” he said. “David is a top goalkeeper, I think their goalkeeper cost £9million and I look at my keeper today and see him step up. He was the best in the Championship and he is in the Premier League, back in the Scotland squad and he has looked so comfortable in the games we have played against some top teams.” But Paulinho finally broke the deadlock as he backheeled in Erik Lamela’s pass from close range in the 92nd minute for his first league goal for the club. “There could only be one winner,” said Villas-Boas. “We played so much football it would have been unfair to leave here with only one point. “We got our reward in the end, but with the chances we created, if it wasn’t for Marshall, it could have been a more comfortable game. “You worry it can be one of those games. We played so open and sometimes on the counter they had a chance. But today, more than maybe any other game, we deserved the win. “It’s satisfying as I don’t see many teams coming here and winning against a team who are well organised and well managed.” Cardiff felt they had twice come out on the wrong end of decisions by the officials. The first came when Hugo Lloris appeared to handle outside his area as Fraizer Campbell attempted to round him, although replays suggested it was a very tight call.
When asked about stories linking Lescott with Spurs, manager Sherwood said: “He is a good player, but there are a lot of good players at different clubs. He is at Manchester City at the moment so I can’t comment on that.” Having spent £107million in the summer, Tottenham are unwilling to shell out big fees again in January. The squad at Sherwood’s disposal is already huge and he is also committed to giving the youth players he looked after in the development squad a chance. It is for that reason that he has not met with chairman Daniel Levy and technical director Franco Baldini to discuss any potential moves in the current window. It seems only a big player at a knock-down price will be of appeal to the north London club. “I have not sat down and spoke to (Levy and Baldini),” Sherwood said. “I don’t think we need players. We need to get the ones we have fit. “If there is anyone who springs up who could really make us better – our 11 – then possibly we will go in. “The club have notoriously backed their managers and I don’t think it will be different with me. I really think we will be fine once we have anyone fit.” There has been more talk of departures than arrivals at Spurs. Erik Lamela has struggled to adapt to the pace of the Barclays Premier League since his £30million move from Roma, but Sherwood looks unlikely to allow him to leave for Atletico Madrid, who reportedly want the player on loan. “He has not mentioned (going out on loan) to me,” Sherwood said of Lamela, who is expected to miss Saturday’s game at Arsenal because of a thigh injury. “He just needs to settle like a lot of the (new signings do). “He needs time for me to recognise what he can do, what he can produce and when I get the comfort in him then he will play, but he is injured at the moment.” Forward Simon Dawkins, meanwhile, has left Tottenham for Derby. Dawkins signed a professional contract at Tottenham at the age of 17, but he did not make a single first-team appearance during his nine-year spell at the club. Injury blighted the 26-year-old’s time at Spurs, but he has impressed while on loan at Derby this term and he has now been allowed to stay at the Sky Bet Championship club on a permanent basis. Tottenham also announced that 19-year-old striker Shaquile Coulthirst has joined League One side Leyton Orient on a month’s loan. Lescott has been linked with a move away from Manchester City after falling down the pecking order at the Etihad Stadium. Tottenham and Besiktas have been mentioned as possible destinations for the centre-back, who wants regular first-team football to aid his remote chances of making the England World Cup squad. Tim Sherwood has professed his admiration for Joleon Lescott, but denied having already held talks with the Tottenham hierarchy over the Manchester City defender – or any other potential transfer targets. Press Association
New Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has dismissed concerns over working with owner Vincent Tan, declaring: “I’m in charge.” The former Manchester United striker and Molde manager was confirmed as Malky Mackay’s successor on Thursday, just six days after the Scot was sacked after a series of disputes with Malaysian Tan. Given the manner in which Tan and Mackay’s relationship deteriorated so rapidly, the 40-year-old Solskjaer would have been forgiven for seeking assurances over the job he was walking into when he held discussions with the owner and chairman Mehmet Dalman. Press Association Some bookmakers already have Solskjaer, who won two league titles and one Norwegian cup with Molde, odds-on to survive less than 18 months in his new job. But promises have been made regarding the January transfer budget and the working structure at the club, and Solskjaer does not envisage having any issues when it comes to running football matters. “I’m very confident in my own ability as a manager and I’m looking forward,” said the Norwegian, who has signed a rolling contract and brought former United youth coaches Richard Hartis and Mark Dempsey with him to Cardiff. “I’ve had great chats with the owner and Mehmet, the important thing now is that we have good dialogue about how to progress the club. “That’s the key for me now, that we do communicate, Mehmet and I will be speaking very often. I’ll be in charge of football matters. “I go into this with my eyes open and I want the fans to be proud of us when we go on the pitch. “I will only ask my players for 100 per cent which was hammered down to me with the gaffer (Sir Alex Ferguson) and Roy Keane at Manchester United. We can forgive mistakes as long as we have a go and enjoy playing in the Premier League. “I felt I needed to be back here and I want to stay for the long, long term.” When asked what he had thought of the reports about Tan and Mackay’s relationship, he added: “You know, everything isn’t exactly what it seems from the outside. “There has been reports of this, that and the other in Norway as well. “After talking to Mehmet and saying to my eldest son Noah, ‘This looks like what Daddy wants to go for’, he wakes up, checks the internet and says: ‘Dad, it says you’ve said no to Cardiff.’ So don’t always believe what is in the press, no disrespect.” Solskjaer was also quick to dismiss reports that his former manager Sir Alex Ferguson had advised him against taking charge at Cardiff. He said: “I have had good contact with the gaffer (Ferguson). He has wished me all the best and given me some good advice as he always does. “When you worked for him you could ask him for advice and I had a good conversation with him. “It is absolute nonsense (that he told me to turn down Cardiff).” The first sign of trouble between Tan and Mackay came in October when the Scot’s head of recruitment Iain Moody was dismissed over an alleged transfer window overspend of £15million. Mackay and Moody denied that was the case, but Dalman has revealed the club have altered their approach to transfers in order to allow a greater transparency and prevent any future issues. He said: “We changed the structure. Until I arrived the board had never met. That was number one. “The manager will say what he wants: A, B and C. I will go to the board and say, ‘Do we have that money?’ It gets authorised. It gets signed off. The manager goes and does his thing. Everybody is on the same page. “Before that did not exist. We have got transparency between the football side and the business side.”
England international Defoe, who will leave next month to join Major League Soccer team Toronto FC, came on with the game finely poised at 1-0 following Christian Eriksen’s opener, and sewed up the three points for Sherwood’s side with a measured finish. Palace had dominated the first half and should have been in front after they were awarded an early penalty, which was hammered high and wide by Jason Puncheon. Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood highlighted the influence of goalscoring substitute Jermain Defoe as he admitted his side were caught cold by Crystal Palace before running out 2-0 winners at White Hart Lane. Press Association “We could have scored a few more and then Jermain comes on and gives us a bit of breathing space.” Despite falling to the foot of the table, Palace boss Tony Pulis said he would have taken such a position at this stage of the season, with just six points separating the bottom half of the Premier League. “We’ve gone bottom because Sunderland and West Ham have won,” he said. “But it has actually had a concertina effect, moving everyone closer when you look at it now. “When I came to the football club if you said this would be the situation with 17 games to go I would have taken it. It gives us a great chance and a great opportunity, it gives us as good a chance as everyone else. “I thought we played really well in the first half and I was disappointed not to come in with a lead. The size of the lead would be debatable but I don’t think anyone could question we deserved to be winning at half-time.” Pulis also highlighted the need to add more players to his squad during the transfer window, with those boasting previous Premier League experience preferable to the former Stoke manager. “When we come under pressure we need to have more strength about us,” he said. “We have players who are exciting players and can do things. We have got a budget we have got to keep to. “It is just trying to get players who have got something to prove, people who have got a little experience in the Premier League who have faded away and want to come to us and have another crack at it.” Eriksen opened the scoring five minutes after the break before Defoe grabbed his first Barclays Premier League goal since April to take Spurs fifth in the table and leave his manager delighted. “Jermain will score wherever he plays, in any league in the world,” Sherwood said. “He is a goalscorer, he loves scoring goals and if he doesn’t score he gets the hump. He will go home happy tonight. “He warmed up like an Olympic athlete. I saw the appetite he was showing to come on and when he came on he showed his worth.” Palace, who slipped to the bottom of the table following the defeat, not only spurned a penalty chance but also created the best of the opportunities before the break, with Sherwood admitting the Eagles were much more attacking than he had anticipated. “I think we were taken a bit by surprise by Palace,” he said. “The amount of attacking options they had, they were very powerful in the wide areas and deliver a lot of balls into our box and we had to stand up to it. “The only positive for me in the first half is that we got in at 0-0 but in the second half I thought we matched them for desire and effort and then our quality shone through.
The deposed head coach was not mentioned in the club statement announcing Magath’s appointment and went on the radio minutes later to claim chief executive Alistair Mackintosh had told him that he had been “released”. However, Press Association Sport understands Meulensteen has not been sacked by Fulham, nor have assistant manager Ray Wilkins or first-team technical director Alan Curbishley. The latter duo are believed to have met with Magath on Sunday evening and an update on their futures could be made on Monday. Until then, though, the questions will continue after the German, who is not set to speak to the media until a pre-match press conference later in the week, refused to shed any light on the situation. “We signed last Friday night, so the time is too short to make up our mind about this stuff,” he told Fulham TV in his first interview since taking charge. “I have only time now to work with the players and prepare the team for the most important game next Saturday. We will talk about the (other) stuff afterwards.” Magath’s first match at the helm will be Saturday’s trip to fellow strugglers West Brom. It is a match the 60-year-old approaches pleasantly “surprised” by the qualities his new side showed in his first training session at Motspur Park. The future of Fulham’s backroom staff should become clearer on Monday as newly appointed first-team manager Felix Magath looks to build on a constructive first day at the office. “I know not only the German players, but the international players very well,” said Magath, who has previously worked with Lewis Holtby, Sascha Riether and Ashkan Dejagah. “I would think that we would have a team that has more potential than what we have shown. “I am sure that we will do that in the next games, show our fans, who I hope will support us in our most important game next weekend against West Bromwich, that we can do better than our last games.” Asked if Fulham can beat the drop, Magath said: “Yeah, I am sure I can because I have done it sometimes before in Germany. “I have taken over clubs in a similar situation to Fulham and I am very confident I can do it once more here in England with Fulham. “I think 12 games are enough to keep them in the Premier League and we need confidence now. We need spirit and we will start next Saturday at West Bromwich. “If the players, the staff and fans will support us 100 per cent and the players give 100 per cent in the next days, I am sure we have the potential to avoid relegation.” On Friday, the bottom-placed west Londoners took drastic action in their bid to stave off relegation from the Barclays Premier League, ending Rene Meulensteen’s 75-day reign and appointing Magath on an 18-month deal. The news of the three-times Bundesliga champion’s arrival was as impressive as it was bizarre, and has left the future of Meulensteen shrouded in mystery. Press Association
There is an air of confidence around Liverpool right now, but Jordan Henderson insists they are not getting carried away. A tilt at the Premier League title had never been part of Brendan Rodgers’ plan this season, but their recent form has given them a real chance of a first championship since 1990. Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Southampton – the only side to have won at Anfield this season – extended their winning streak to four matches, seeing them climb above Manchester City and Arsenal into second. Just four points separate them from leaders Chelsea and Liverpool’s travelling fans chanted ‘we’re going to win the league’ at St Mary’s – talk that midfielder Henderson attempted to move away from. “We have just got to keep our feet on the ground,” the England international said. “We are very confident but at the same time there is a long way to go so we have just got to take each game as it comes. “We’ve got some quality players here and are working very well, so we will take each game as it comes and see where we finish.” Victory at Southampton was the ideal start to a run of three successive away matches, with Luis Suarez marking his 100th league appearance for the Reds by opening the scoring at St Mary’s. The hosts responded impressively but Liverpool held firm, adding extra gloss to the scoreline as substitute Raheem Sterling and captain Steven Gerrard netted in a dominant second-half display. “I think the win was really important with the break coming up,” Henderson told the club’s official website, www.liverpoolfc.com. “Coming here we knew it would be a very difficult game for us and it was a really important game for us to stay up there at the top so we’re over the moon with the three points and the performance. “We knew we’d come under pressure at some point because they’re a good team with good players and we knew at some point we would have to deal with some pressure. “But I thought we handled them quite well. They had a few chances and Simon [Mignolet] made a great save, but I think in the second half we dealt with it better and created some good chances.” Liverpool have now scored three or more on 16 occasions this season, with their tally of 73 goals from 28 matches making them the Premier League’s top scorers. It is at the back where the problems lie, though, with only four teams having kept fewer clean sheets heading into Saturday’s match, making the shut-out at St Mary’s particularly poignant. “It was really important for us to get a clean sheet,” Henderson added. “I think we’ve been disappointed with some of the goals we’ve conceded over the last few weeks and have worked on it in training – and I think you could see that. “The defenders were outstanding, Simon was very outstanding and as a team defensively we were very good.” Press Association
David Moyes endured the latest in a long line of disappointing nights at Old Trafford as his Manchester United team lost 3-0 to neighbours City. It was the sixth, and most devastating home defeat of what has been a long and painful debut season for the United manager. Wayne Rooney admits opposition teams no longer fear coming to Old Trafford. United went into the match full of confidence after back-to-back wins against West Ham and Olympiacos. But the wounds that were inflicted by Liverpool the previous week have now been reopened. And while City push for the title, United’s very slim hopes of a top-four finish must now been gone. Rooney acknowledged United did not do enough to take anything from the game. “It’s a bad night and we didn’t deserve to win,” the United striker said. “We weren’t clinical enough and we didn’t create enough chances. “No-one likes to lose a derby game – they’re big games and they’re great to win, but when you lose it’s not a great feeling. “It’s probably been the story of our season so far that we’ve got a couple of good results and then one which sets us back a bit.” United have a home game against Aston Villa on Saturday which is followed by a daunting double-header against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Rooney wants the team to bounce back quickly to avoid further embarrassments such as the one they endured on Tuesday night. “We know we have to respond,” the England striker said. “It’s a bad night for us all but we have to move on. “We’ve got two big games coming up against Bayern Munich but first we have to focus on the Villa game and try to end the season on a positive note.” The last time United lost six league matches at home was in 1978 and that is a statistic which Rooney feels is unacceptable. “It’s not good enough,” Rooney said in a frank interview with MUTV. “We can’t lose six homes games in a season and we have to put that right, and make this a place which teams fear again.” Edin Dzeko scored either side of half time before Yaya Toure added a third in stoppage-time to seal a win which will no doubt raise further questions about Moyes’ future. The home fans who were left inside Old Trafford by the final whistle did not boo their team off, but there was also a noticeable lack of songs in support of the United manager. Rooney has pleaded with the United fans for patience despite what has been a dreadful season. He added: “They were great again tonight. As a team, we need them to be strong and to understand there has been a big change at the club. “We have to step up and start giving the fans something to cheer about with some good performances and wins.” Press Association