Lambert will unleash Benteke

first_img Press Association But Lambert insisted he will let his star player off the leash rather than nurse him through his return to the Barclays Premier League. He said: “I’ll let him go when he’s out there. He’s deserved it. When he’s out there he’s got to go and do it. His injury was the most important thing that he’s recovered from. “I heard it, I heard the snap from where I was standing, I knew it was a major one but it wasn’t just that, it was losing (Libor) Kozak as well with a broken leg. “With losing Benteke you’ve lost two strikers, your number nines are out. “That was the problem. The start we’ve made has been really good but we’ve done it without a number nine.” Benteke’s swift return has been a surprise and Charles N’Zogbia was ruled out for the whole of last season after he ruptured his own Achilles in 2013. And Lambert admitted he did not know how long it would take his £7million man to recover. He said: “You are never quite so sure because Charlie did it and he was long so I think with every individual it can vary how quickly they can come back and how quickly the body heals itself. “I knew it was going to be a long one but time wise I didn’t really know. “If he comes through training OK (on Friday) I’ll put him in the squad and we’ll decide from there.” The striker is expected to be in the squad for Saturday’s visit of Manchester City to end his six-month injury nightmare. Benteke has been out since April after rupturing his Achilles, which forced him to miss Belgium’s World Cup campaign. center_img Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has vowed not to wrap Christian Benteke in cotton wool as he prepares to let him loose.last_img read more

Mignolet: I’m always ready

first_img But the 26-year-old is confident he can get back up and running quickly, as he will be in goal for the visit of Swansea on Monday with youngster Danny Ward on the bench. “I just take every game as it comes,” Mignolet said. “I work hard and keep my head down like I’ve always done – nothing changes. “Sometimes things get tough but you still have to step up and I am a positive guy and will try to go again. “You always have to be ready when you are on the bench. When you are second-choice goalkeeper, anything can happen in the warm-up, so I prepared myself as normal. “I was still warm from the warm-up so that helped a bit. I tried to stay relaxed. I’m not a guy who gets flustered easily, so I tried to focus on my own game. “Me and Brad get on really well. It is unfortunate for him to pick up an injury, but he will be back soon. “We focus on ourselves and do our best every day in training to get better. “When you get the chance you hope you do well and we got three points, so I am pleased with that because it is a difficult ground to go to and it was a difficult battle.” Press Association Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet insists he is ready to step back into the firing line after making an unexpected return to the team. A thigh injury to Brad Jones just 15 minutes into the 1-0 Boxing Day victory at Burnley meant the Belgium international’s exile was ended sooner than he could have anticipated. Having been dropped a fortnight ago because of poor form, and missing the last three matches, his comeback was not all plain sailing. And, while he made one good save from Ashley Barnes in the first half, he was far from convincing, and allowing a Mamadou Sakho backpass to go out of play before he kicked it still requires some explaining. Mignolet kept only his fifth clean sheet in 23 appearances this season, but it was a crucial one with such a slender margin of victory. It secured a first win in four league matches and, with Swansea and Leicester both to visit Anfield over the next week, there is a chance to build some much-needed momentum. “At half-time it was still 0-0 and in the second half we went out and did the job,” Mignolet added after Raheem Sterling’s second-half winner. “We knew it was going to be tough, but we fought really hard as a team and worked well. “When you step onto the pitch, you have to do a job and I am pleased how we played. We got the three points and that is what mattered. “It can only be a good thing as we have a couple of fixtures we can look forward to and pick up three points.” last_img read more

High five for Man City

first_imgManchester City warmed up for Tuesday’s visit of Barcelona in style by crushing Newcastle 5-0 on a perfect day for the Barclays Premier League champions. City led from the second minute as they cut Chelsea’s lead at the top of the table to five points by demolishing the Magpies at the Etihad Stadium. Top scorer Sergio Aguero opened the scoring with a penalty before Samir Nasri and the impressive Edin Dzeko added to the lead inside 21 minutes. David Silva made the scoreline even more lopsided with a rapid double early in the second half. New signing Wilfried Bony did not get on the scoresheet after coming off the bench for the final 30 minutes but, even before kicking a ball, it seemed he had started paying back his £25million fee. His mere presence in the squad – finally available after the African Nations Cup – appeared to sharpen Dzeko, whose goal was his first since September. The return of Yaya Toure, following his tournament success alongside Bony for Ivory Coast, could also not be understated as City gained complete control of the midfield area. Toure is suspended as City return to Champions League action this week, but they could not go into a clash against Barcelona in better heart. They needed just 20 seconds to assert their authority as Vurnon Anita gifted possession to Dzeko in the box and then clumsily brought the Bosnian down. It was just the start of a highly impressive performance from Dzeko, although it was Aguero who tucked away the penalty for his 22nd goal of the season. Newcastle initially responded well to the setback and Daryl Janmaat sent a fierce effort narrowly wide with Joe Hart apparently beaten. But that was about as good as it got for Newcastle as City strode through the visitors’ defence to double their lead after 12 minutes. Dzeko was the provider, cutting inside from the left and passing inside to Nasri, albeit with a slight deflection. Nasri took the ball in his stride and casually wrong-footed two defenders before scooping the ball into the roof of the net. Dzeko continued to stretch the Newcastle defence and got the goal his early excellence deserved when a well-timed run behind the defence was spotted by Silva. The Spaniard picked him out with a superb crossfield pass and the Bosnian chested down before clipping home on the half-volley. By now City were in complete control and they eased off the throttle to coast towards the interval. Newcastle hardly made an impression and City might have had another before the break as Fernandinho struck a long-range shot straight at Tim Krul, after more good work from Dzeko. The Magpies had a rare good chance early in the second half as Papiss Cisse met Moussa Sissoko’s fine chipped cross with a powerful volley that deflected off Vincent Kompany, but Hart was alert. That was enough to stir City back into life and they further increased their lead with two Silva goals in the space of three minutes. Aguero broke from deep to create the opening for the first, with Silva finishing by digging out Nasri’s pass inside and tucking home. The Spaniard had another moments later, this time racing on to an Aguero knock-down from a Toure pass and rifling in from distance. That quickfire double put the game beyond any doubt and Manuel Pellegrini, with Tuesday in mind, decided to take star duo Silva and Aguero off after an hour. That meant a 30-minute run-out for Bony, and he might have had a debut goal but for a fine save from Krul after racing on to a Toure pass. Dzeko also extended Krul and the goalkeeper kept out a well-struck free-kick from Aleksandar Kolarov as City, despite easing off in the latter stages, continued to dominate. Press Associationlast_img read more

PL to meet living wage petition fan

first_imgA Tottenham fan is to meet Premier League bosses on Thursday after more than 50,000 people signed his petition calling for clubs to pay their staff the living wage. Premier League clubs that pay their players tens and in some cases hundreds of thousands of pounds a week have come under pressure to increase wages for other staff. A spotlight was again shone on the issue earlier this month when the latest TV rights for the Premier League were sold for £5.1billion. Sharples said: “I hope that Bill Bush will recognise the widespread revulsion at the gross inequalities at football clubs, and begin taking steps towards implementing the living wage.” Youth worker Joel Sharples, 25, set up the petition on last week and has secured a meeting with the Premier League’s head of policy, Bill Bush. The living wage is currently £9.15 per hour in London and £7.85 elsewhere in the country compared with the legal minimum wage of £6.50 per hour. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Mancini: City should be trophy team

first_img Press Association Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has turned up the heat on successor Manuel Pellegrini by claiming the Chilean should be winning a trophy every year. Mancini thinks Pellegrini was “really lucky” to inherit a strong side from him and he should be delivering continual success at the Etihad Stadium. But Pellegrini, who did win two trophies last season, is now under heavy pressure with City faltering in their Barclays Premier League title defence and facing an uphill task against Barcelona in the Champions League. center_img Mancini, who was sacked by City in 2013 despite winning the Premier League title the previous year, told CNN: “I think Pellegrini was really lucky because he got this team that is a strong team and he has a chance to put in more good players. “I think City can win a title every year and have a chance – it should and must try to win a title every year.” Mancini’s jibe came on the eve of the second leg of City’s last-16 Champions League tie at Barcelona, which they will go into trailing 2-1. The success or otherwise of City’s season now appears to hinge on the outcome at the Nou Camp as, trailing Chelsea by six points having played a game more, the Premier League looks beyond them. But Mancini said: “It’s my opinion that City is the best team in the Premier League. It’s in second and six points behind Chelsea but I think it’s the best team. “In the Premier League anything can happen right up to the last game, in the last minute. I think they should think that they have a chance to win the title.” last_img read more

McIlroy satisfied before Masters

first_img And American Matt Every took full advantage with a birdie from 15 feet on the 18th to complete a closing 66 and became the third player in the tournament’s history to successfully defend the title. Stenson was unhappy at being time for slow play on the back nine, telling reporters: “I’m obviously a little disappointed with the outcome. I’m as much disappointed with the PGA Tour officials for putting us on the clock on 15, starting to chase us down the stretch. “It’s busy enough trying to close out a golf tournament and to play the finishing holes without being on the clock. I did not see the reason for that really.” Every, who was four behind heading into the final round last year and three adrift of Stenson on Sunday, said: “Last year I just made everything but this year I was driving it really well and my irons were spot on. “I kind of had a feeling. I was shaking some of those putts in but the one on 18, straight downhill, that’s what you want when under pressure so that was nice.” Stenson had made the ideal start with birdies on the first and fourth but followed that with a three-putt bogey on the fifth and found himself two behind playing partner Morgan Hoffman, who b irdied five of the first eight holes. However, bogeys on the ninth, 12th and 13th derailed Hoffmann’s challenge and Stenson took advantage with birdies on the 11th and 12th to reclaim the outright lead, with Every having recovered from a bogey on the first with six birdies in the next 10 holes. Every’s closing birdie left him 19 under par and one ahead of Stenson, who closed with a 70, with Australian Matt Jones third on 17 under and Hoffmann two shots further back after driving out of bounds to double-bogey the 18th. McIlroy began the day seven shots behind Stenson and despite briefly closing the gap to five with birdies on the fourth and sixth, bogeys on the ninth and 12th ended his chances of an unlikely win on his Bay Hill debut. The world number one at least ended in style with birdies on the 16th and 18th for a closing round of 70 ahead of his bid to win a third major title in succession and complete the career grand slam at Augusta. “I feel like I got what I wanted out of the week, four good competitive rounds,” McIlroy told Sky Sports 4. “I saw some progress on some of the things I was working on last week. Still need to work on some things ahead of Augusta. “It would have been nice to get into contention and feel what is was like to have a chance to win but I am happy with my progress and have another couple of weeks to work on some things and hopefully go to Augusta ready. “I am excited going there with the opportunity to achieve three in a row, the career grand slam. It’s a nice position to be in. I’m going to embrace it, try not to build it up too much. I know it’s a big deal but hopefully I can get my game as good as I possibly can.” Rory McIlroy expressed his satisfaction with his final competitive appearance before the Masters as Ryder Cup team-mate Henrik Stenson squandered a chance to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Press Association Stenson had seen his two-shot overnight lead turned into a two-shot deficit in the space of eight holes, but fought back to reclaim the outright lead with six holes to play. The Ryder Cup star had played the final four holes in four under par on Friday and Saturday but three-putted the 15th for a bogey and did the same for par on the 16th after finding the green in two. last_img read more

McIlroy named alongside Spieth

first_img Press Association McIlroy suffered a “total rupture” of ligaments in his left ankle during a game of football with friends on July 4, ruling him out of the Scottish Open and the defence of his Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational titles. The 26-year-old has not officially said he will compete at Whistling Straits, but has given a number of hints this week via social media, culminating in a post on Friday which appeared to show the inside of a private plane along with various emojis depicting a US flag, a thumbs-up symbol and a golf flag. And on Friday evening the PGA of America released the tee times for the year’s final major, with McIlroy alongside Masters and US Open winner Spieth and Open champion Johnson at 1320 local time (1920 BST) on Thursday and 0805 (1405) on Friday. McIlroy, who finished one shot outside the play-off the last time the US PGA was held at Whistling Straits in 2010, has not played competitively since the final round of the US Open on June 21. Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer, who defeated Bubba Watson in the play-off five years ago, has been paired with Tiger Woods and 2011 winner Keegan Bradley, with majors nearly men Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson in the same group. Johnson led by a shot with a hole to play in 2010 but after a bogey on the 18th looked to have dropped him into the play-off, he was penalised two shots for grounding his club in a fairway bunker. center_img Rory McIlroy will play the first two rounds of the US PGA Championship with Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson next week, if the world number one is fit enough to defend his title.last_img read more

Giroud: I can lead Arsenal attack

first_img He added: “When you want to win the league it is always a mix of skill and mental quality, technique and tactical. “You cannot win the league without mental strength, so obviously we need that and I think we have got it in our squad, the team is fantastic, like our understanding between us together. I think we can do well with that.” Palace started the new season where they had left off in May, battling to a 3-1 win at newly-promoted Norwich. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger believes this season will show the depth of quality within the English top flight. He said: “It will certainly be a tighter and tougher league because the quality of teams in the lower half of the table has improved. “What gives you a good indication is if you look at the bench of the team you play against. Now, when you look at the teams in the second part of the table and you look at their bench, it indicates that you will have tough games.” Press Association “I showed great mental strength last year and I had good stats,” said Giroud, whose injury-time strike settled a 4-0 FA Cup final victory over Aston Villa at Wembley. “I always try to improve myself and I feel with the team, so yes, I am sure I can bring something more to the team and to my team-mates.” Like summer signing Petr Cech and the rest of the Arsenal squad, Giroud endured an opening day to forget as the Gunners were beaten 2-0 at home by West Ham. The 28-year-old accepts things must improve if they are to get a positive result at Crystal Palace on Sunday. “In pre-season, we all worked well together. We won the Community Shield so there is a lot of expectation for this first game,” he said. “Unfortunately we have made mistakes we will learn from them and try not to do it again. “We can succeed to play our game, we want to bounce back on Sunday.” Giroud believes Arsene Wenger’s current squad do have what it takes to mount a serious title challenge. Striker Olivier Giroud remains confident he can prove himself the right man to lead Arsenal’s attack this season. The France international has again seen his position come under scrutiny as the Gunners have been linked with a big-money move for Karim Benzema from Real Madrid. However, 6ft 3ins frontman Giroud – who netted 19 goals last season despite being out for three months with a broken leg – has no doubts he has what it takes to spearhead Arsenal’s Barclays Premier League challenge. last_img read more

Ireland beat England to claim bronze at EuroHockey Championships

first_img Press Association Elsewhere, Spain beat France 4-3 to maintain their place in the top tier and Belgium’s Tom Boon raced to the top of the tournament’s goal charts by scoring seven times in an 11-4 win over Russia. Ireland claimed their first international medal at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships in London with a 4-2 victory over England.center_img Goals from Shane O’Donoghue (two), Alan Sothern and Eugene Magee settled the bronze medal match in Ireland’s favour, with Harry Martin and Adam Dixon replying for England. Germany were handed a Dutch masterclass as Holland claimed their first European title since 2007, and their fourth overall, with a 6-1 victory. Mink van der Weerden scored two of their five first-half goals. last_img read more

Ireland to face Zimbabwe in one-day international series

first_img “Ireland have enjoyed some really hard tussles with Zimbabwe over the years and I expect these games will be equally tough. “It’ll be a test for the squad playing in different conditions, and it’ll also serve as good preparation for when we travel on to Windhoek for the Intercontinental Cup clash with Namibia.” All three ODIs will be played in Harare, with the first game scheduled for October 9. The second match will take place two days later, with the third pencilled in for the 13th. The cup clash with Namibia gets under way on October 24. Ireland will travel to Zimbabwe for a three-match one-day international series in October. The tourists will also play a four-day game against Zimbabwe A ahead of their ICC Intercontinental Cup tie against Namibia. “It’s great to be playing what should be a really competitive series,” said Ireland head coach John Bracewell. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more