English League 2

Lee lands Blues' loan switch

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Thu, 21 Mar 2013 18:00:00

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."

Championship clubs met this week to discuss the planned rise in payments for next season from ?16million to ?23million, with concerns expressed that it was unfair on those clubs not receiving a 'parachute' - they will only receive ?2.3million.

Scudamore pointed to the fact that of all the clubs promoted to the top flight in the last 15 years, 60 per cent had not been receiving parachute money.

He said: "It's nothing new - there have been those concerns from the day the parachute system was introduced.

"What we did three years ago in extending the period to four years was potentially giving 12 Championship clubs parachutes. That is better for the Football League and not worse because it means more clubs have got substantial amounts of money.

"Looking at the league tables now we are probably going to be giving away 10 if not 11 parachutes next year.

"We never envisaged that because we thought more clubs would bounce back, but the reality is over 15 years 60 per cent of the clubs that come up are non-parachute benefiting clubs.

"While I hear the angst and can understand it because it is mathematically true, in practice look at the league table this year and it doesn't look like any of the clubs who have come down with a large parachute are going to come straight back up. Bolton have a chance but the other two aren't going to be anywhere near."

Speaking at the launch of 'Creating Chances', the Premier League's annual report of its work in communities, Scudamore said it was vital the top-flight clubs kept in touch with their roots.

He added: "It's essential we carry on doing the work and it's imperative we communicate it.

"We set up the Premier League to be a very, very good football competition and that's our main focus but our community work is very close behind it.

"This is ?45million of ?190million we give away outside of the league generally.

"Clubs are rooted in their communities and they have a power that politicians, local authorities and the police don't have.

"It's a power to influence and you can see the enthusiasm of young people getting involved in a sporting activity which has any sort of link to the iconic football clubs of their local area."

The 31-year-old is preparing for his first competitive action with the national team ahead of World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.

Moyes admits Osman was probably in better form when he made his debut in November's friendly against Sweden but is pleased he has been given another chance to impress.

"I am delighted for him because he has been one of the players who has carried us for a lot of the season, he really has," he told evertonfc.com.

"Yes, at times he has dipped under his best like all players will do, but so far this season he has been very good.

"It's good that Roy's continued to pick him because he was first picked at a time when he was really in top form but it's been tough for Leon because for a lot of the season he's been the one who's carried the team.

"His performances have been excellent. Whatever we've asked him to do - we've asked him to do different jobs at times - he's done it, he's come up with some important goals and he's had his best season at Everton for me.

"He's been exceptional and I'm delighted he's been given another call up by England.

"Ossie, if you were being fair, would probably be the one who, if anyone, could probably do with a week off just now because he's played all the games.

"He's been doing all the fetching and carrying for the team and he's taken a lot of the burden in terms of responsibility this season.

"We just hope he can keep that going for another couple of months."

The Scot, who only made the switch from Falkirk two weeks ago, admits it would be "mission impossible" regarding City's promotion hopes were they to suffer the penalty, with the club currently in eighth place in npower League One and just three points off the play-offs.

Coventry and owners SISU find themselves in the High Court in London tomorrow morning battling against the threat of an administration order, with the application having come from Arena Coventry Limited (ACL), who manage the Ricoh Arena on behalf of joint owners the Alan Edward Higgs Charity and Coventry City Council.

It is claimed the financially-stricken Sky Blues owe over ?1.3million to ACL in unpaid rent stretching back a year, an ongoing row which has subsequently seen their bank accounts frozen, while earlier this month City were also placed under a transfer embargo having again failed to file their annual accounts on time.

Speaking this afternoon, Pressley said: "It's a concern, there's no doubt about it. My biggest concern is for the players and supporters because it's been 39 games of hard work and following the team. It's them who suffer the most. That's my biggest concern.

"I desperately hope that we find a solution and we can continue challenging for those potential play-off places.

"We can only wait until we hear the verdict and continue to prepare for Saturday's game in the hope we can still go on and gain promotion this year.

"The players and the supporters are the ones who really suffer out of this, that's why I'm desperate for some form of solution."

Asked if Coventry were to suffer a points deduction, Pressley added: "It becomes mission impossible in terms of promotion but it's certainly not 'season over' in terms of games, we have a responsibility not just every day on the training pitch to apply ourselves but every matchday.

"There's always something to play for and certainly one of the things is pride - pride in this football club. So regardless of Friday, we'll continue to work hard and get results."

Coventry travel to Fratton Park on Saturday to tackle Portsmouth, a club who have twice suffered administration in as many years of late.

Fans from City's supporters' group, the Sky Blue Trust, will meet pre-match with their counterparts from the Pompey Supporters' Trust, who aim to complete their takeover of the south coast club soon.

The Sky Blue Trust hope tomorrow's court verdict does not bring administration but are desperately hoping for an end to the matter for the sake of the midlands club.

Jan Mokrzycki, media officer for the Trust, said: "We just want to see a resolution, we just don't want the matter dragging on and on. We want it to come to a head and be sorted out so we can get back to football.

"Whatever the outcome is, we want the supporters in general to be taken more seriously by whoever the owners are of the club and the one thing the Trust is pushing for is more fan involvement and more fan involvement from an ownership point of view as well."

He added: "I think it's holding the whole club back, at the moment we're very close to the play-offs yet all we can talk about is when would be the best time to take a points deduction should it come. That's not what it should be about.

"We should be getting excited not worrying about points deductions, people coming in, people going etc. With all the off-field activity it's diluting that excitement.

"Hopefully, whatever happens tomorrow it will be a new start for the club, either with Sisu or new owners. Hopefully it will draw a line under the whole sorry business and we can move on."

The 22-year-old has been dogged by similar problems since joining City from Everton last summer and has been limited to four starts, with seven further appearances as a substitute.

Rodwell hoped a gruelling fitness programme and lifestyle changes had addressed the problem and he impressed in City's 2-0 victory over Chelsea last month but was then forced off only 25 minutes into their clash with Aston Villa two and a half weeks ago.

The midfielder told www.mcfc.co.uk: "It's just over two weeks into my injury now and it's healing well. I'm hoping for maybe another two weeks until I'm back on the pitch.

"I'll hopefully train within the next 10 days, that's my aim. If I do that, then it's been a really good rehab - four weeks is very good.

"If it takes a week more, then it will be a week more, just to be on the safe side, but we'll see - hopefully two more weeks is all I will need."

The recurrence of the injury was certainly a setback but Rodwell, who has been capped twice by England, is determined to think about the long term.

He said: "Initially it was depressing but I've got good people around me, good family, great physios, the sports science department are great and all the lads are brilliant, too.

"It's just a minor setback and it's a long career. I'm still young and I just have to stay positive."

The 21-year-old has been on trial with Blues for the last couple of months and has played for their development squad.

Lee has made 13 appearances for the Bees since joining on a free transfer from West Ham last summer.

He is the son of former Hammers, Newcastle and England midfielder Rob Lee.

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