Benteke has no survival fear
Thu, 18 Apr 2013 12:17:00
Xavi would happily welcome Iker Casillas to Barcelona but has admitted the chances of the goalkeeper making the move from Real Madrid are virtually zero.
Casillas has fallen out of favour at Real this season, losing his starting place to Diego Lopez after being first choice at the Bernabeu and for Spain for over a decade.
Manager Jose Mourinho's expected departure from Madrid in the summer could well see Casillas come back into favour but were the Portuguese to stay, further speculation would mount over the stopper's future.
And with Barca keeper Victor Valdes set to leave the Nou Camp after confirming he will not extend his contract beyond 2014, there is set to be a vacancy between the sticks for the Catalan giants.
That would open the door for the most controversial Spanish transfer since Luis Figo moved the other way 13 years ago, but Xavi does not see his Spain team-mate making the move.
He told Spanish television program The Goal: "Iker will not come to Barca.
"He's a Madrid man and would not walk away. I would welcome it but do not see it here, honestly."
He added: "I feel bad for him to see him on the bench. I think it is unfair. He does not deserve it."
Valdes' announcement in January that he would not be signing a new deal was met with some hostility in Barcelona, and Xavi was quick to jump to the defence of his long-time team-mate.
"Valdes has had the worst media treatment I've seen in my career," he said.
"Knowing Victor, who is an extraordinary man, I feel bad that he is leaving.
"He is a friend, a piece of the furniture and a guy who deserves better."
Fourth-bottom Scunthorpe's 2-1 defeat at Bury on Tuesday night leaves 18th-placed Town six points clear of the drop zone with two matches of the season remaining, while they also boast a far superior goal difference.
The job can finally be completed this weekend as Town make the trip to Colchester while the Iron travel to promotion-chasing MK Dons, and it will be a job worth celebrating in what is Town's first season back in England's third tier since 1997.
"With the way the results went on Tuesday it would have to be an absolute disaster for us to go down," Turner told Town's official website. "There would have to be a 19-goal change in goal difference.
"We're six points clear of Scunthorpe who have two games left and it's only goal difference now that can change it so we're almost home and dry."
Pardew's players have looked increasingly weary in recent weeks as a punishing fixture schedule, thanks largely to a good run in the Europa League, has taken its toll.
But while the manager is confident the likes of Moussa Sissoko and Papiss Cisse can deal with that, he concedes France international midfielder Cabaye is on his mind.
Pardew said: "Cabaye is probably my biggest worry. The rest of them are really sound physically and mentally.
"But Cabaye is our best player in terms of intelligence on the pitch and he needs to play. That's why he has played almost every minute."
The Frenchman has been a revelation on Tyneside since his ?4.8million move from Lille during the summer of 2011, and he was one of the stars of last season's surge into fifth place in the Barclays Premier League.
However, both he and the Magpies in general have found the going tougher this time around with a European campaign thrown into the mix, and Cabaye revealed earlier this season that he had struggled both mentally and physically to cope with the demands of two tough Premier League seasons either side of a trip to the Euro 2012 finals with his country.
The 27-year-old was this week touted as a possible summer target for Paris Saint Germain, although manager Carlo Ancelotti has since played down the speculation.
But whatever happens at the end of the campaign, Pardew will hope to have Cabaye fresh and available for a five-game run-in with Newcastle yet to formally secure their top-flight status.
The Magpies still need at least one more win to keep them free from the scrap at the foot of the table, and will hope that comes at West Brom on Saturday as they attempt to bounce back from a demoralising derby defeat by Sunderland.
The club, meanwhile, are offering fans the chance to freeze the price of their season ticket until 2021.
The Magpies, who have achieved success with 10-year and nine-year freezes in recent seasons, have now extended the initiative to cover the next eight years, meaning supporters will pay the same for their season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign as they will for 2013-14.
Managing director Derek Llambias said: "The club is dedicated to making football affordable to our fans, and that's why we've again decided to offer a price-freeze to our supporters, and supporters who sign up can rest assured that the price of their season ticket in 2020/21 will be exactly the same as it is now.
"There's nothing quite like a packed St James' Park and, with an adult and a junior able to watch Premier League football from as little as ?483 per season, we hope supporters will take advantage of this superb deal."
The offer is initially open only to existing season ticket holders, but will be extended to new buyers next month.
After Wigan's 1-0 defeat at Manchester City on Wednesday night, Villa remain 17th in the table with five matches left to play, three points clear of the 18th-placed Latics, who now have one game in hand over them.
Benteke - scorer of 19 goals in all competitions for Villa this season following his move from Genk last summer - looks likely to be a key figure in the Midlands outfit's survival bid from here, and regarding their run-in the 22-year-old Belgium international said: "If I was scared of pressure, I would be playing ping-pong.
"This is the best league in the world and it's normal that there will be pressure surrounding the games."
Benteke, quoted by the Express & Star, added: "We can't be satisfied to be where we are in the league but we know we can do something about this.
"We believe in ourselves, we believe in each other, the manager (Paul Lambert) believes and the fans are behind us. We are growing as a team, we know we have to do our job and we will.
"When my father has spoken to me about my responsibilities as a person, he has always said 'be a man and be confident in yourself'. So this is how I am.
"We're a good team. Sometimes we have been unlucky in games but we are learning and growing together and it will take time with this team."