English League 2

Burton exit looming for Taylor

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Thu, 21 Mar 2013 18:02:00

Germany will hope to take firm control of their World Cup qualifying group as they head into a fixture double-header with Kazakhstan.

Joachim Low's Group C leaders travel to Astana this week before hosting the Kazakhs, who have collected just one point from four games, in Nuremberg next Tuesday.

Their two closest rivals, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland, face each other in Stockholm on Friday. Ireland then return to Dublin to play Austria next week while the Swedes are not in action.

The situation could present an opportunity for Germany, even though they have already played a game more than Sweden and Ireland, to open up a significant lead.

The Germans currently have a three-point advantage over Sweden with the Irish a point further back.

Midfielder Thomas Muller told DFB-TV: "We have to win there. For us, six points that we have been targeted."

Sweden, who remarkably fought back from 4-0 down to claim an unlikely point against Germany in Berlin last October, are expected to prove the most likely challengers for top spot.

Germany are due to travel to Sweden in the final round of fixtures in October but captain Philipp Lahm is not thinking ahead to what could prove a shoot-out for top spot.

Lahm told the German Football Association's (DFB) website: "If Sweden win all of their games, then that's how the situation would be.

"But I wouldn't be afraid. Knockout games are always interesting and I see that as a challenge, but we don't need to concern ourselves with Sweden just now.

"We have a few other challenges to overcome and we shouldn't place the second step before the first. We are just looking at ourselves and if we perform, then I'm sure our quality will see us through."

Sweden are also focusing on their immediate task with Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland visiting the Friends Arena.

Coach Erik Hamren said: "I think Ireland are a really good team. I am full of respect for them.

"They played in the Euros last summer and if you see the away statistics from Ireland you can see they are a really tough team to beat.

"We are ready, the players are ready and I am ready. It will be a tough game and we need to be really good. We have set our goal to be that good.

"Then we will see what happens. They are only one point behind us. It is a really important game for us both."

While Germany will play on an artificial pitch in Kazakhstan, Sweden and Ireland are likely to play under the Stockholm stadium's retractable roof to combat freezing temperatures.

Trapattoni said: "The next match will obviously be very important for our qualification.

"It will be important to keep in mind there is only one point between us and Sweden in our pool.

"As always every little detail is important to achieve the result. Against these strong teams character, technical (ability) and attitude are important."

In the group's other match on Friday, fourth-placed Austria, hoping to keep the pressure on Sweden and Ireland, host the Faroe Islands, the bottom side.

Swindon's second goal - scored by James Collins - in Tuesday's 2-0 win over the Glovers at Huish Park nudged Johnson's side out of the play-off spots.

And ahead of the trip to Carlisle, the Yeovil manager spoke of his confidence that their coaching staff can turn their fortunes around.

"I'm confident that me, Terry (Skiverton) and Darren (Way) will do all we can to get a response up at Carlisle," Johnson said. "We have got to make sure we are ready.

"We must not let our season fade away, I will not let that happen. We have to make sure in the next couple of games we fight back and get in those play-offs."

Johnson also confirmed that Jamaica Under-20s captain Omar Holness has left the club after a trial period.

UEFA had been expected to deliver its verdict on both matters during and after the game against Real Madrid on Thursday but the decisions will now be announced on Friday at the earliest.

Nani will definitely receive a one-match suspension for the red card he picked up for a high tackle on Alvaro Arbeloa during United's 2-1 defeat in the second leg of the last-16 clash at Old Trafford earlier this month.

UEFA do have the power to increase that ban, although given the dismissal was widely viewed as being exceptionally harsh, it would be a surprise if it was extended.

Ferguson is in hot water after failing to attend the mandatory post-match press conference, an offence that in extreme cases can bring a touchline ban.

The United boss was furious with Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir over the red card, which he felt swung the tie in Real's favour.

Assistant manager Mike Phelan said at the time Ferguson was too "distraught" to face the media.

Ferguson subsequently said it was "hard to keep faith" in the face of such incidents, and that it was the third time during his tenure that United had been knocked out of the Champions League as a direct result of what he felt were poor decisions.

In addition to a touchline suspension, Ferguson could also be fined or warned about his future conduct.

The 29-year-old, who joined Albion on a free transfer in the summer of 2011, has not made a first-team appearance since the FA Cup third-round defeat at Leicester on January 5, when he came on as a substitute after 62 minutes.

His last start came in the league loss at Barnet on December 21.

Chris Palmer had his contract at the Pirelli Stadium terminated by mutual consent last Friday and fellow midfielder Taylor may end up in the same boat.

"Cleve has been a model professional while he's not been in the team with the way he's conducted himself," Rowett said. "At this stage of his career, he needs to be involved though.

"I've spoken to him. Like Chris, he's not been in out plans. If we could help him find somewhere else, or maybe come to some sort of settlement, then we'll look at doing that."

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