English League 2

Ainsworth praises skipper

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Wed, 06 Mar 2013 17:39:00

Viktoria Plzen midfielder Daniel Kolar has dismissed the notion that his side face an easy task to see off Fenerbahce and book their place in the last eight of the Europa League.

Plzen's 5-0 aggregate thrashing of Napoli in the last round, coupled with their domestic form which has taken them to the top of the Czech League, makes them big favourites against the Turkish side.

But ahead of Thursday's first leg at the Doosan Arena in Plzen, Kolar warned it will not be a straightforward task for his team.

"People are saying it will be easier than Napoli, but Fenerbahce are a top European team with some great players," he said.

Plzen, whose domestic draw with Banik Ostrava at the weekend ended a run of five straight wins, are boosted by the return of captain Pavel Horvath, who missed the Banik game due to illness.

Meanwhile, Fenerbahce travel to the Czech Republic on the back of two straight losses against Trabzonspor in the Turkish Cup and then Besiktas in the Super Lig, a defeat which saw them drop to third.

Coach Aykut Kocaman's problems are also heightened by the losses of both Egemen Korkmaz and Raul Meireles through suspension, while Emre Belozoglu also misses out.

Kocaman knows his side face a big test, saying: "Plzen are a very good team with very good physical strength. But getting through the group stages has really boosted our confidence."

The former Dunfermline player and manager is heading a working party who have taken control of the day-to-day running of the financially-stricken club.

Majority shareholder Gavin Masterton announced last night he will step down from the board, while chairman John Yorkston is to stand down as chairman and assume the role of honorary president on completion of a share offer, which has so far been delayed.

A sum of ?134,000 is owed to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, although it is believed the amount is not due to be paid in one instalment.

On the task ahead, Leishman said: "It's the hardest thing I've ever done at this football club, it's the hardest thing I've got to try to achieve.

"Will I do it? I don't know. But I can't do it by myself, that's for sure.

"I've got a short period of time - maybe two weeks, maybe three, maybe four. I've got to remain positive.

"It's about the short-term survival of Dunfermline and the long-term future of the football club."

Some fans staged a protest outside East End Park on Saturday and supporters who had congregated outside the stadium today were invited inside to attend a press conference called to explain the new structure.

Leishman - who is set to meet with fans groups tonight - added: "The community of Dunfermline, the supporters of Dunfermline, have been divided.

"We are not a big enough club to have factions that are going everywhere. We can't be divided, we've got to be together.

"I want the club to be here for my grandchildren.

"We need money. There are pledges coming in. If we can get past the next two weeks, then the evolution starts again and we start to build for the future."

The Pars were hit with more financial problems yesterday when the Scottish Football Association issued them with a notice of complaint over failure to pay a debt to Hamilton, while Cowdenbeath are also owed money.

They also face the prospect of action from the Scottish Football League after PFA Scotland last week submitted a formal complaint after players were paid just 20% of their monthly wages in the latest in a series of delays.

Players have now received 60% of the payments due, with employees still owed ?35,000 in total.

Leishman said: "We've got to prioritise now for the survival of the football club.

"The staff can't shut you down but HMRC can shut you down. We've got to get a solution to that and a solution for all the staff.

"The staff and players deserve so much credit for sticking by the club."

On the issue of HMRC, he added: "We are asking business people to put money in and support us to get that initial problem solved.

"We've got people who pledged money and it's about turning pledges into donations."

A share issue, which it is hoped will raise up to ?500,000, is set to be launched within days.

Accountant Steven Taylor, who is part of the steering group, said: "At Hearts a few months back, the cry went out that their next home game could be their last game.

"I'm not suggesting we are quite at that point but we're rapidly heading in that direction.

"We desperately need cash in. The share issue, which is hopefully going to be launched in the next couple of days, is only part of the exercise.

"There is going to have to be cost-cutting and we will have to operate with a much smaller squad next year.

"There are other elements, getting a bit smarter on the commercial side and looking at other overheads and costs as well.

"But we are rapidly running out of time."

Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to leave Rooney out of his starting line-up to face Real Madrid could have major consequences for the striker's United career.

In the past, when Ferguson has left big name players out of high-profile matches, it has proved to be the signal they are surplus to requirements and were to be shipped out at the earliest available opportunity.

David Beckham and Ruud van Nistelrooy were both dispensed with in such fashion, while Roy Keane and Jaap Stam discovered that big reputations count for little when Ferguson reaches a significant conclusion.

"For Rooney not to start is a real kick in the teeth and it's got to be a big worry for him," Owen told TalkSPORT.

"It's the biggest game of the season and the manager has shuffled his pack and not included him.

"Wayne will take it one of two ways.

"He will either get his head down, try to improve and force his way back into the team, or he'll think, 'The manager has not picked me for the biggest game, he obviously doesn't fancy me', and it might not be the end of the story."

Rooney's wife Coleen took to Twitter prior to kick-off last night to express her surprise at the 27-year-old's omission.

However, that Tweet has now been taken down and Rooney has not offered any reaction to last night's disappointment, positive or negative.

Without some kind of positive statement from the player's camp about the situation, there is bound to be further speculation about a potential exit in the summer.

Ferguson has said repeatedly this season that the striker needs to play matches to keep fit, and takes time to recover when he has a spell out of the side, the reason given for Rooney's omission last night.

The United boss has also stressed the professionalism Robin van Persie has brought to Old Trafford this season since his arrival from Arsenal.

It would be easy therefore to draw a negative conclusion about Rooney, although Owen insists he never saw any reason for concern during his three years at United.

"When I was at Manchester United their relationship was very good, they talked, shared jokes and there were no problems whatsoever," said Owen.

"I would be surprised if it was something of that nature [a falling-out], but the decision to leave him out isn't going to help if it is that."

Much interest will now be focused on Ferguson's team selection for Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final with Chelsea.

If Rooney does not make that starting line-up, it is hard to see a way back for him.

Then attention would switch to where he could go.

Two seasons ago, when he slapped in his infamous transfer request, there was a belief he would be willing to follow Carlos Tevez in making the switch to Manchester City.

More recently, Paris St Germain have emerged as potential suitors.

Owen believes both clubs are among a very small number to whom Rooney might be attracted.

"Sometimes when you're at the level he is at you don't have many options," said Owen.

"If you are a mediocre player you have 20 teams in England and aboard that you can move to.

"If Wayne Rooney moves, where does he go to? Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Chelsea and PSG, there's only half a dozen teams.

"It's just speculation though.

"He's been dropped for one game and I'm sure he will bounce back.

"Obviously Wayne has got to get his head down now and start recapturing his best form.

"He's certainly got the right attitude and ability to get back into the manager's thoughts."

The centre-back played a crucial part in the Chairboys 1-0 win over Fleetwood on Saturday and finished the match with a bloodied nose from marking Cod Army striker Jon Parkin.

"Dave Winfield had a huge battle with Jon Parkin and Jon Parkin must have a lot of respect for Dave Winfield now," Ainsworth told the club's official website.

"He bullies a lot of people and is a big unit. He's done that all of his career and made a very good career out of being a big target man.

"Dave gave as he good as he got and some. He came off with a big gash on his nose and I saw at the end of the game that they shook hands and said 'good battle', which is fantastic to see.

"It was two warriors out there, giving it their all. I've told the lads to have a look at Dave's face, that's what it takes to win a game and that's what he has done for us.

"It was awesome. The way he leads the team typifies us."

Wycombe head to Rochdale on Saturday before welcoming Rotherham to Adams Park.

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