Scottish Premier League

Butcher relief over injuries

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Thu, 07 Feb 2013 19:40:00

Harry Redknapp says Loic Remy could make his return from injury when QPR visit Swansea this weekend.

There had been reports that the Frenchman faced up to two months on the sidelines after hurting his groin last Friday.

However, Rs boss Redknapp has rubbished those claims and says Remy will return at the Liberty Stadium providing he is satisfied the injury will not be aggravated.

"He's close to being fit for Saturday," Redknapp said. "He trained this morning, he's very close.

"But I don't want to rush him in case he breaks down."

Remy joined Rangers from Marseille last month in an ?8million deal and scored on his debut against West Ham.

Meanwhile, QPR chief executive Phil Beard admitted that relegation from the Premier League could hinder the club's hopes of building a new stadium.

"Premier League stability is important," said Beard. "We share a training ground that isn't right. We will build a new one.

"A new stadium is a long term goal. We have great fans but we need to grow that fan base to fill it.

"It is going to be a minimum of four of five years before we have a new stadium."

Redknapp added: "You only fill stadiums if you are in the Premier League."

Rangers will "vigorously defend" any claim from finance firm Orlit after confirming they have been in dispute with the company.

The Glasgow club released a brief statement on Wednesday night saying they had agreed a deal with Orlit over an "insignificant" debt, after reports claimed the firm would seek a winding-up petition over a ?400,000 bill.

Rangers repeated their claim that a deal had been agreed, but not completed, although they added they were still being "harassed".

The club said: "Rangers have been disputing a payment to a foreign company, Orlit, although it should be stressed we have never said there is no bill to be met.

"What we have said and what we are telling our supporters is that not all of the invoices submitted with regard to this bill are legitimate.

"Clearly there has been a lack of understanding within the media about this when all we have done is refuse to be forced into paying sums we do not owe. It's as simple as that."

Rangers again insisted that there was no threat to the club and added: "If Orlit wish to instruct their lawyers to go to court then we will defend our position vigorously.

"We are absolutely convinced we'd win but we did think it would be better to avoid giving our many detractors another bar with which to beat us over the head.

"That's why we made an offer to settle but we now find we are still being harassed."

Orlit have made no comment on the matter.

The statement was accompanied by a separate, near-1,200-word article, written by recently-appointed director of communications James Traynor, which hit out at media coverage of the club.

Ambrose and his Nigeria team-mates will face Burkina Faso on Sunday evening in the African Nations Cup final, placing a question mark over his availability for the first leg of the last-16 clash at Parkhead.

Lennon concedes the versatile defender is a doubt but will give him every opportunity ahead of Tuesday's European outing.

He told CelticTV: "Nigeria did fantastically well and Efe has played brilliantly in the game so I'm delighted for him in one way, but obviously very frustrated in another.

"The final is on Sunday and he probably won't get back until Monday evening, so he would be a doubt.

"We will get him into the squad and see how he is feeling."

Better news for Lennon is the likelihood that James Forrest and Fraser Forster will both be available for the visit of the Italian side.

Forrest has had a scan after returning to Celtic Park early from Scotland duty, having made his return from a hamstring injury against Raith Rovers last weekend.

Lennon said: "He's just having a wee problem with his hamstrings at the moment. He came off again on Sunday feeling a bit tight.

"He went away with Scotland and had a scan on Tuesday back in Glasgow.

"There was nothing on the first reading so we are hopeful he will be all right.

"He's going for a second one today just to confirm it.

"If that's the case, we'll maybe not have him for this weekend but he'll be in the squad for Juventus."

Forster should return against Inverness on Saturday after being sidelined with a neck injury, while striker Georgios Samaras (hamstring) and left-back Emilio Izaguirre (knee) are battling to recover from injury ahead of the Juventus game.

Lennon said: "Fraser should be all right for the weekend and, if he comes through that, then he'll be starting against Juventus.

"With Sammy, we're giving him every opportunity and we'll see how he is over the weekend. Emilio should be fit for the game."

Mulumbu suffered a knee injury before taking part in the African Nations Cup for DR Congo and on his return missed last Sunday's 1-0 home setback against Tottenham.

But he was back training with his team-mates on Thursday and optimistic he will be ready to face the Reds.

Mulumbu told Albion's official website: "I missed the QPR FA Cup game before the African Cup of Nations with what I thought was a small injury.

"But the intensity of the games in the African Cup of Nations meant I needed a rest when I came back.

"It was hard mentally and physically but I've had a good rest over the last week and I feel refreshed.

"Mentally it was hard not to get through the group and it was quite painful physically playing through the injury.

"But when you play for your country and fans you just get over it - and I did it.

"I have been training this week but today was my first day back training with all the team.

"I think I will be fit for Monday's game, my knee is getting better, and I felt really good today."

On Thursday afternoon Portsmouth's administrators, PKF, said they had received a new offer to buy the troubled club from former Football League chairman Keith Harris, which would rival the PST's bid.

Despite the football financier wanting the fans' group to be involved in the proposed takeover, the Football League has released a statement stating it will not consider any new bids for the struggling south coast outfit.

The statement read: "At its meeting in London earlier today, the board of the Football League was appraised of the current situation regarding the administration of Portsmouth Football Club in light of media reports that the administrator, PKF, is considering a new offer for the Club.

"The League had previously been informed by PKF that its preferred bid for the club was from the Pompey Supporters Trust (PST) and all parties have been focused on a successful transfer of share to that consortium.

"Given that the Football League's Insolvency Policy prohibits a club from beginning two consecutive seasons in administration, the board took the view that any change of preferred bidder at such a late stage would only create further uncertainty and was not in the wider interests of the League and its member clubs.

"Therefore, the League has informed the administrator that it will not currently consider transferring the club's share in The Football League to a new bidder.

"This means that in the event that the PST bid does not succeed and Portsmouth do not exit administration before the end of the current playing season, the club will lose its membership of The Football League."

The PST are the preferred bidder of PKF but their proposal hinges on buying the club's Fratton Park ground, which is still controlled by former Portsmouth owner Balram Chainrai.

PKF are seeking permission to sell the ground and are due in court with Chainrai's company Portpin next Thursday.

Pompey have been in administration since February last year and will be deducted 10 points if and when they exit. They are currently second from bottom in League One, two points above Hartlepool, having lost their last eight matches.

The 41-year-old has been in charge of the Denmark Under-21 side, but is to give up the role to move to the Liberty Stadium, and his switch could be confirmed before the weekend.

Erik Larsen has been working as Laudrup's right-hand man so far this season, but it is believed he will be moved into a position with more focus on scouting, while Alan Curtis will remain as a first-team coach.

During his time in Glasgow Wieghorst helped Celtic end Rangers' run of nine-straight SPL titles, before being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2000 and making a remarkable return to resume his playing career.

Wieghorst, who played alongside Laudrup for Denmark, left the Hoops in 2002 to become one of his former team-mate's first signings at Brondby.

The highlights of his managerial career to date have been the consecutive Danish Cup triumphs he oversaw with Nordsjaelland, before taking the reins of the national under-21 side.

He was also viewed as a potential successor to Morten Olsen, with the boss of the senior Denmark side set to step down next year, but the chance to return to club football has been too strong a draw.

The move to bring in Wieghorst would suggest Laudrup has no intention of leaving the Liberty Stadium, having been linked with Real Madrid and Chelsea.

Despite the speculation, the Swans boss does not believe there is any need to rush a decision over extending his contract, which runs out at the end of next season.

Laudrup has taken the club to new heights after building on the foundations laid by Brendan Rodgers.

The Swans sit in the top half of the Premier League table and will play in their first major cup final when they face League Two Bradford in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley later this month.

Chairman Huw Jenkins is keen to tie his manager to a longer-term deal and avoid a repeat of the departures of Rodgers and Roberto Martinez before him.

But with that Wembley final, important Premier League games and next week's warm-weather training camp in Dubai on the horizon, Laudrup does not believe his contract is a matter that needs to be dealt with immediately.

He said: "I think for me the present is more important than the future, we have so many things coming up now and I already have a contract for next season so it is not urgent for me.

"We have some very important things to deal with right now. I am talking to the chairman a lot of times every week and we talk about a lot of things."

But several of Laudrup's players have recently committed their futures to the club, and goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel became the third this week after agreeing a two-and-a-half-year deal through to 2015.

He joins midfielder Leon Britton and defender Garry Monk in putting pen to paper, and Laudrup said: "It's good to get the players signed up, they are important to us.

"We need to do it quick sometimes because it is difficult to compare and compete with the salaries of other clubs.

"You never know their other possibilities, you have to ask them, but we have to be realistic and know how it is here and the structure is working well.

"We know other clubs pay more money but players sign because they want to stay here which is good for us."

Following Lampard's decisive goal for England in Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Brazil, it was reported the 34-year-old had been offered new contract to extend his 12-year stay at Chelsea.

Such a move would suggest an about-turn by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who previously had been prepared to allow Lampard to leave at the end of the season.

Chelsea declined to comment when asked about Lampard, but Benitez was upbeat when asked about the midfielder's performance against Brazil.

"He's scoring goals for us already and I think he's doing well," Benitez told Chelsea TV.

"Ninety-four caps is a fantastic achievement. If he can get 100 it will be really positive and it will mean he will be fit, he will be playing and he will be doing well."

A 27th international goal on the occasion of his 94th cap showed Lampard still has a future with England, who beat Brazil for the first time in 23 years, and prompted England boss Roy Hodgson to state his preference for the midfielder to stay in Europe ahead of the 2014 World Cup. That could yet be at Stamford Bridge.

Despite the uncertainty over his future, Lampard has performed well this term, scoring 12 times to move five behind the Blues' goalscoring record of 202 held by Bobby Tambling.

Should Lampard stay on, it would come as a welcome boost following the contract extension signed by Ashley Cole, who won his 100th England cap against Brazil.

Benitez added: "Ashley Cole - 100 caps is an amazing, a great achievement for anyone, and for a player in the England squad, which is very competitive, so even better."

Lampard said of Cole on Chelsea's website: "It's a fantastic achievement. He's been an unbelievably consistent performer both for club and country, and he started all of those games which makes it all the more incredible.

"The consistency levels he's shown, particularly when you consider Leighton Baines has been around for a while now, have been great.

"For me, he's been one of the best in the world, and to be the first full-back to reach 100 caps is brilliant."

If Lampard does stay on, he could outstay Benitez, who is under contract only until the end of the season.

Lampard, who joined in 2001 from West Ham, could even be reunited with Jose Mourinho, who has been linked with a return to west London from Real Madrid.

Overall Benitez was happy with the midweek international fixtures, reporting no fresh injuries as players returned to Chelsea's Surrey training base.

"The international break normally is a problem, but this one we can consider was positive," Benitez said.

David Luiz, who has struggled with injury in recent weeks, captained Brazil against England, and again Benitez praised the achievement.

"To be the captain of Brazil is a great achievement for David," Benitez said.

"We were thinking maybe he could play less minutes, but he said that he was fine."

Cesar Azpilicueta made his debut for Spain against Uruguay in Qatar, with Juan Mata also featuring, while John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses were part of the Nigeria team which progressed to the African Nations Cup final, meaning their returns to London will be delayed.

The pair will miss Saturday's Premier League clash with Wigan.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech, another long-serving Blue, could be doubtful after a finger injury saw him withdraw from international duty with the Czech Republic.

Demba Ba's fitness status is uncertain after the striker suffered a broken nose against his former club Newcastle last weekend. Ba may be able to feature with a protective face mask.

However, the Spaniard admits without youthful endeavour surrounding those elder statesmen it is often difficult to progress.

Lampard, who came off the bench to score England's winner in the friendly against Brazil, seems destined to leave Chelsea at the end of the season.

The midfielder, who turns 35 in June, has not been offered a new contract by the Londoners and with his current deal expiring at the end of the campaign it seems likely he will leave Stamford Bridge - much to the annoyance of many fans.

"Experience is a big word and it is very difficult, in football terms, to describe it," said Martinez, whose side face Chelsea on Saturday.

"Experience in football is one of the most important ingredients in a successful team.

"You need experience during a game so you know what to expect, how to affect that game.

"Experience allows you to get positive results when you play well.

"That is something that Frank Lampard brings - he knows when to make forward runs, he knows when to score goals, when to stop games and when to affect players around him."

Lampard's age appears to have counted against him and Martinez can appreciate that there comes a time when a squad has to be freshened up.

"Experience is very important to have in a squad but you need a happy balance," he added.

"You cannot have a too ageing squad and you cannot have too young a squad but experience without legs doesn't take you anywhere and you need that bravery of youth surrounding experience."

Some clubs, like Liverpool, are actively pursuing a policy of signing only young players who are likely to have a good re-sale value.

But Martinez does not believe there has been a significant shift in the way sides are currently recruiting.

"I don't think there has been a trend or change of way of planning squads," he added.

"I think all the squads need balance of youth and experience.

"I think Frank Lampard's situation is quite unique but I think in general there is a real understanding of how important experience is in the squad and how important it is to give our youngsters an opportunity.

"All the changes with the development of a younger players shows that but I wouldn't say there has been a change in how to approach the older generation."

On the day managing director Derek Llambias revealed that he and owner Mike Ashley would be thrilled if Pardew could extend his stay on Tyneside into decades like Sir Alex Ferguson has done at Manchester United, the manager was looking to the future.

The 51-year-old was handed an eight-year contract last September - two days before the Magpies embarked on a run of just three wins in 18 Premier League games.

Pardew revealed he was reassured his job was never under threat despite their alarming slide, which saw the club drop to within two points of the relegation zone before their recent recovery.

He said: "It's rare in football to have the position that I have had, and even with the results I had, the message from upstairs was that I was going to be retained as manager, which was a good feeling for me - perhaps not so much for our fans at times.

"I hope to repay that in the longer term because obviously I was aware of the problems and I am aware of the problems we still have.

"We need to strengthen the under-belly of this football club and we need to do that this summer, probably.

"If we can do that, then we are going to be well-set for next year because we have got some very good players on our books now."

Ashley funded the January spending spree which saw Pardew recruit five senior players, one of whom - Moussa Sissoko - turned in a match-winning display in Saturday's 3-2 victory over European champions Chelsea.

That was as much an illustration of his continuing faith in the former West Ham boss as it was an admission that the club had got it wrong during the summer with its frugal approach, and Llambias today confirmed that.

He told the Evening Chronicle: "The club has never had stability. It needs it. This is too big a club not to have stability.

"Do we want to find ourselves in a situation when we have a manager for 15 or 20 years? Absolutely. If the manager works, we work. You cannot get any better than that.

"Eventually you will bring to the club what it has been crying out for. Stability is a big thing for us."

Llambias also indicated that Newcastle are likely to concentrate on the European market once again when they look for further reinforcements, with British talent too expensive for their liking.

However, that was news to Pardew, who said: "That's a view that he has - it's not something that I personally hold.

"All the markets are open to us and whatever becomes available, we will take the best option we think is there."

In the short term, the Magpies will concentrate on the task of building upon successive wins over Aston Villa ad Chelsea to ease themselves further clear of trouble, although that may prove easier said than done this weekend as they travel to Tottenham, where they lost 5-0 last season.

Events conspired against Pardew that day as the Spurs players responded emphatically to speculation that then manager Harry Redknapp would leave to become England boss.

Pardew said: "Spurs played very, very well that day. There was a lot of business with Harry perhaps going to England and everything else, and we caught them on that day when it was all coming together for them.

"This will be a different scenario. We have got ourselves on the up a little bit and hopefully we can turn the result around.

"But they have got some fantastic players - Gareth Bale is in the top five or six players in the world right now, so we have got some difficult players to contain."

Lambert has shone on his first season as a Premier League player, netting 11 goals in 25 matches.

The 30-year-old's haul is the highest by an English player and led one bookmaker to offers odds of 3/1 on him receiving a first call-up for Wednesday night's match against Brazil.

In the end, England boss Roy Hodgson overlooked the striker, something Pochettino was relieved about after left-back Luke Shaw picked up a knock on England Under-21 duty.

"For me, they are all worthy of playing for their national teams," Pochettino said of his new charges.

"[But] it would be better for Southampton that they are not with their national teams after what happened to Luke Shaw.

"It's natural they should have enthusiasm to play for national team, but they have to be calm and everything comes bit by bit over time."

Shaw picked up a ligament issue ahead of his Young Lions debut against Sweden and is a doubt for Saturday's late kick-off against Manchester City.

Fellow full-back Nathaniel Clyne, another that dropped out of the Under-21 squad, may also be unavailable, with Gaston Ramirez and Guly do Prado also possibly out.

"We have several players recovering from situations that have happened to them over the last couple of games," said Pochettino, who will almost certainly be without centre-back Jose Fonte.

"I can't confirm at the present time whether they will be ready for Saturday or not.

"I hope they will be available for the game. Luke Shaw has come back with a problem after his time with the England Under-21s team.

"We don't know if Adam Lallana will be ready right from the start. He is recovering from injury so we don't know yet."

Should the winger make his first start since December 8, it would be a huge big boost to Pochettino, who has yet to secure his first win since replacing Nigel Adkins at the St Mary's helm.

The Argentinian knows it will be tough to secure his first three points against City, highlighting David Silva, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero as the key threats.

"It's obvious that those two players plus Silva are great players," Pochettino said.

"We know that we have to stop the players getting balls to these three players.

"We know any of these three can decide the match at any time so we have to stop the ball getting to them."

The pair were forced out of last week's Scottish Cup defeat against Kilmarnock.

Skipper Foran suffered a knee injury and Shinnie picked up a hamstring problem but both could be available for the visit of Celtic this weekend.

Butcher said: "They are fine and we'll see how they are tomorrow.

"Andy probably has more of a chance than Richie at the moment but we'll see. I've not ruled them out yet.

"I've had the specialist's report and it's pretty good news - not the bad news we first feared.

"We'll wait and see what they're like. We've got another plan in place if either one is out and we'll move on from there.

"I'm still very pleased with what I've got and if both of them do miss the match we've got good replacements."

Butcher added: "We've got Kilmarnock as well on Wednesday at home.

"If there is a slight doubt about playing on Saturday against Celtic, then the Kilmarnock match very much comes to the fore and maybe they could be available for that.

"It's still relatively early but they both want to play and they're both desperate to get back out there."

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