English League 1

New deal for Featherstone

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Tue, 05 Mar 2013 16:15:00

Juventus boss Antonio Conte has welcomed speculation regarding a possible summer move to Chelsea, saying it is a good thing for both himself and his club.

The 43-year-old is rumoured to be among the candidates to replace Rafa Benitez in the Stamford Bridge hotseat at the end of the season.

Benitez, who was an unpopular choice of boss among sections of the club's support, confirmed last week in a stormy press conference that he intends to leave when his short term contract expires in the summer.

Conte, meanwhile, has established himself as one of Europe's leading coaches after guiding Juve to the Serie A title without losing a game last season.

The Turin giants are looking good to retain the trophy as they currently sit six points clear at the summit. They also hold a 3-1 advantage going into the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Celtic at the Juventus Stadium on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of that game Conte responded positively to questions regarding a possible move to the Premier League.

"My future? It is normal for some rumours to delight you, when you work well others notice it," said the former Siena and Atalanta boss.

"We are doing well as a group both in Italy and abroad and we have to continue like this."

Conte also confirmed that striker Nicklas Bendtner may face disciplinary action after he was arrested for drink driving back in his native Denmark last weekend.

The on-loan Arsenal striker has already been given a six month ban by the Danish FA following the incident in Copenhagen on Sunday and he may well face further sanctions from Juve.

"The club will examine the issue and will take necessary measures," added Conte.

It is understood Rangers are now lining up a move for Law as they are targeting a number of free transfers.

The Gers are under a transfer embargo until September 1st - meaning they cannot sign players until after that date - so any potential signings would need to be free agents as the transfer deadline will be closed.

They can offer terms of employment to players who are due to be out-of-contract, such as Law.

The former Rotherham ace has impressed north of the Border since joining Motherwell in 2011 and could now get the chance to move to Ibrox.

Rangers are being linked with a host of these types of deals, with Cammy Bell, Murray Davidson, Andy Halliday, Jon Daly and Chris Humphrey all believed to be in their sights.

The Bianconeri hold a 3-0 lead from the first leg at Parkhead, but Conte believes that Celtic are a side that will not give in without a fight.

Whilst the Italian manager admitted that his side were heavy favourites to qualify, Conte insisted that his side still had to turn in a professional and committed performance.

"Tomorrow's game is important," Conte told Football Italia.

"We still have to play 90 minutes against a proud side who will want to recover the score from the first leg. It will be an important test for everyone - the players, me and the club. Celtic are a side who never give up. We need full concentration tomorrow.

"The result of the first game means we have a serious chance of qualification, but football can surprise if you don't face a game in the right way."

Conte also answered questions as to whether he could rest players that are one booking away from a suspension. Stephan Lichtsteiner, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal are all in such a situation.

"Those players who are on a yellow card will still be on a yellow card after tomorrow's game too. I'll have to evaluate things. Some people will play, while others could be rested. It depends on who else is available."

The League One club's former owners Portpin are refusing to drop their asking price for Fratton Park, an impasse which is the final stumbling block to a proposed takeover by the Pompey Supporters' Trust.

Administrators PKF want the court to force through the sale of the stadium at a lower price, allowing Pompey to exit administration and avoid the threat of expulsion from the Football League.

And a statement on the club website confirmed the latest development, adding: "As is often the case in such situations, we are unlikely to get confirmation of the exact date from the court until a few days prior to the hearing."

The court date raises the prospect of an end to an administration which has lasted more than a year.

An alternative bid for the club fronted by former Football League chairman Keith Harris has been dismissed out of hand by the League, which insists "it remains focused on a successful transfer of share to the preferred bidder, the PST."

Featherstone, who rose through the ranks at npower Championship side Hull, arrived on free transfer from Hereford last summer following the Bulls' relegation from the Football League, signing a 12-month deal at the Banks's Stadium.

Featherstone has proved his worth to the promotion-chasing Saddlers this term, making a total of 31 appearances, 27 of which have been starts.

And with the 24-year-old's contract due to expire at the end of this season boss Dean Smith has moved to secure his services on an improved deal for the 2013/14 campaign.

Featherstone said: "I am delighted that everything is sorted. It's important that we keep the nucleus of this team together and I am excited by what the future holds in store.

"I thoroughly enjoy working with the gaffer; he is very consistent in what he does and I am able to be myself under him. My game has certainly developed under his influence and now I want to play my part in a positive end to the season."

Smith added: "Nicky has performed really well for us this season. He has showed what ability he has and I am delighted that he has agreed to sign this new deal.

"He has a great attitude; he wants to get better and has a real hunger for the game. I am pleased with the progress he is making here and this is another piece of the jigsaw in place."

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