English League 2

Southend exit for Sturrock

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Sun, 24 Mar 2013 16:49:00

James Tomkins is determined to earn himself a new contract at West Ham United and represent the club at the Olympic Stadium.

The Hammers are set to move out of their Upton Park home and take up residence at the base of London 2012 in time for the 2016/17 campaign.

Tomkins is aware of how special the atmosphere at the Olympic Stadium promises to be, having formed part of Team GB last summer.

He is desperate to experience the thrill of competing on such a stage for his boyhood club, but acknowledges that he will first have to convince West Ham that he is deserving of fresh terms.

Tomkins told the Sunday Express: "It seems so far away right now but it will come soon. It should be a brilliant moment.

"My contract expires just before it happens but hopefully I will still be around because, just like all the fans, I am looking forward to that occasion.

"This has been my club since I was eight. It's hard to see me ever being anywhere else because I have been here so long, and my family are as excited as I am.

"To see their son potentially playing there makes them very proud. And being a local boy, I will be doubly proud to be there."

Allardyce



It remains to be seen who will make up the West Ham playing and coaching staff when they move into their new home, but Tomkins feels current coach Sam Allardyce should be given every chance to guide the club into an exciting new era.

He added: "He is doing a great job here.

"He got us promoted at the first time of asking and you can't ask for much more, really."

Stoke have enjoyed great success in their previous six seasons under Pulis' stewardship, but there is a sense in the stands that the team has stagnated this campaign.

Crouch, though, believes Pulis and the Stoke board will kick the club on again once a minor blip has been overcome.

He said: "I look around the club and I can see it getting stronger. The squad is improving every year.

"It's true to say that if you look at most clubs that make progress, they find themselves having to sell the players who do best. But the thing is, that hasn't happened at Stoke.

"Look at somebody like Ryan Shawcross, who has signed a long-term contract when people said he might move on, while Steven N'Zonzi has been a real find.

"You can look at the squad and, season on season, it is always better than the year before.

"Players are happy to sign new contracts because they can feel the club is always moving forward. That's credit to the manager for persuading people to sign contracts and it is credit especially to the chairman, who has been fantastic with the investment he has made in the squad."

He added: "But it doesn't matter what a chairman does or what a manager says, if players sense things are not right they will always move.

"That hasn't happened here and it tells you that the feeling within the group of players is that we can still do a lot more."

The 20-year-old front-man is attracting attention from a host of Premier League clubs and is believed to have been watched by scouts from Arsenal, Spurs adn Stoke during Denmark's 3-0 win over the Czech Republic on Friday, in which Cornelius scored his first international goal.

"First of all, we are happy on Cornelius' behalf," stated sports director Carsten V. Jensen to Sporten.dk.

"I am particularly happy how he handles the situation around him. It's not easy to keep your focus on your displays when you get a lot of attention."

The Danish giants are hoping to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League after the summer and therefore the club have no plans to sell their talented striker.

"Selling players is not in our plans," he added.

"We are in a phase where both the side and individual players are making progress and the most important thing for us is to prepare the club for the challenges which hopefully will come."

Evans had been left out of the original squad after suffering a quad injury during Hull's pre-match warm-up against Crystal Palace earlier this month.

However, he has now been added to Michael O'Neill's party after passing a fitness test.

Northern Ireland's game against Russia was called off due to snow on Friday and then again on Saturday, meaning they need a result on Tuesday to salvage anything from what had been seen as an important double header at home.

Evans adds to O'Neill's midfield options in the absence of Chris Baird, who would have been suspended against Russia before coming into contention against Israel.

It is understood the former St Johnstone and Bristol City manager could be unveiled as the Dons' new boss as early as Monday morning.

Current boss Craig Brown announced last Monday that he was retiring from management and would step aside immediately if the club found an instant successor.

Aberdeen reportedly had a move for Ross County manager Derek Adams rebuffed before agreeing a deal with McInnes - the details of which are set to be finalised.

McInnes led St Johnstone to promotion in his first full season before establishing them as a comfortable SPL.

But he lasted just 14 months at Bristol City, leading the Championship club to safety in his first season but paying the price for their continuing struggles.

The former Morton, Rangers, West Brom and Dundee United midfielder was sacked in January after a 4-0 defeat by Leicester sent City to the bottom of the table.

The 41-year-old's first task at Pittodrie will be to try to earn the Dons a top-six spot.

Aberdeen sit in ninth place in the SPL and have won just once in 11 games in 2013, but they are only two points off the top half of the table with games against Hearts at home and Dundee United at Tannadice to come before the split.

The 74-year-old Italian went into the double-header against Sweden and Austria amid claims that defeat in Stockholm could not only end his side's hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, but could also signal the end of his reign.

Former Reading manager Brian McDermott has been linked as a potential successor.

In the event, and despite a controversial late reshuffle in his team selection, Trapattoni returned from Sweden with a hard-earned point and is preparing for Tuesday night's clash with Austria, in which victory would catapult Ireland into second place in Group C.

The manager has grown accustomed to the dissenting noises off-stage and has allowed them to wash over him, and O'Shea is equally adamant that they do not affect the players either.

"Not in terms of in our minds," he said. "It's very clear for us: he is the manager who is trying to get us to the World Cup.

"It's fairly straightforward, to be honest."

What is also straightforward is that the Republic's creditable performance and result against the Swedes on Friday will count for little if they do not make the most of home advantage to claim the three points when Austria visit the Aviva Stadium.

Austria leapfrogged the Republic with a 6-0 demolition of the Faroe Islands in Vienna on Friday evening, although their advantage is only goal difference.

But with Sweden not in action this week, a win would put Trapattoni's men second in the Group C table behind Germany.

O'Shea said: "There's a good positive atmosphere, but also we are fully aware of the dangers we face against Austria.

"The job is only half-done. Four points, I suppose, was the target before the two games and if we can do that after the game on Tuesday night, we will be very pleased.

"But believe me, we are not taking Austria lightly. They have shown it in the group beforehand.

"We were watching the clips against Germany, and Austria caused Germany lots of problems. They will be confident from scoring six goals the other night as well.

"But we will have grown in confidence too. Some of our younger players will have grown a lot in confidence from the other night, so it's a game to look forward to."

The game is one of three successive qualifiers on home turf for Ireland, and while their recent record in Dublin has been patchy, O'Shea knows now is the time to recreate the kind of fortress Ireland once enjoyed at the old Lansdowne Road.

Asked if the balance of the group had changed as a result of what happened in Stockholm, the 31-year-old said: "If we can beat Austria, it will do.

"We have three home games in a row now, so it's really back in our court if we can take advantage of that.

"The confidence should have grown from the other night and we can look forward to a big game at the Aviva, but also a tough game as well."

The Republic will have to pose a greater threat than they did in Sweden, where they did not manage a shot on target.

West Brom striker Shane Long had the best of their opportunities, but fired over, reminding team-mate O'Shea of his days in Gaelic football.

He said with a smile: "Longy was unlucky that one time. He sent the defender on to the ground and the ball just hopped up, unfortunately.

"He connected with it beautifully, but he must have thought he was back playing for Tipperary again.

"Fingers crossed if the manager does select him to start again, he will cause Austria lots of problems. We will have to wait and see."

Sturrock had been in charge since the summer of 2010 and led Southend to the League Two play-offs last season, but their form has been poor since they reached the JPT final and they have slipped to ninth place, six points off the play-offs, after winning just two of their last eight.

The Shrimpers expect to name a new manager on Monday - Phil Brown has been linked with the role - but chairman Ron Martin says that he still wants Sturrock to lead the team out on 7 April at Wembley, when they will take on Crewe.

Martin released a very lengthy statement on the Southend website, explaining his decision to dispense with the services of Sturrock.

The statement read, in part: "The decision I have had to make today was a very hard call but one I instinctively know is correct and in the best interests of Southend United.

"Most people associated with the club are currently thinking of the day out at Wembley and 7 April will be a special day in the club's history, a day for the town of Southend.

"I too will look forward to our day out but, as chairman, my responsibility and focus must also be on the wider interests of Southend United.

"The primary objective last season and again this season was promotion. We came up short last season and the recent results against relatively lowly teams have not been good enough. Two points out of 15 is poor by any standard.

"Our investment has enabled the manager to have more quality players at his disposal than most teams in the League. However the form, just as it did last season, has dropped off when we should have been pushing for automatic promotion.

"Paul Sturrock's three-year contract comes to an end this season and the club will not be renewing it.

"No matter how much I personally wrestle with the positive arguments (Paul is experienced, a nice man, honest and likeable) my responsibility is to bring success and growth to your club.

"If the club were to appoint a different manager during the close season the new man would have no opportunity to assess the ability of the current squad and we would start next season with uncertainty.

"The club needs to hit the ground running from day one with absolute focus on the task in hand, so the club will appoint a new manager tomorrow to ensure the club's interests are protected and advanced both now and from the first day of next season.

"The decisions here are driven by the wider interests of Southend United while remaining conscious of what is fair and just. These may not be sentiments common to football but it is the way I want this club to be run.

"For all these reasons, I have suggested to Paul he leads the team out and manages them at Wembley. He has earned that privilege and has agreed."

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