Premier League

Di Canio coy on Cattermole

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Fri, 26 Jul 2013 11:59:00

Evian striker Saber Khelifa knows of interest from Montpellier while he waits to return to France from Tunisia.

The 26-year-old has not reported for pre-season training with Evian while he tries to resolve paperwork issues for his family in order for them to join him in France.

The Tunisia international, recently linked with Southampton, netted 13 times for Evian last season, his second with the club.

"I don't want any trial of strength with Evian," Khelifa told L'Equipe.

"Even if there were offers, the priority is Evian. First contact? There is Montpellier, it is the only proposition I have had and it is a great club."

Khelifa's goals kept Evian just above the relegation zone in Ligue 1 last season, but he has yet to re-join the squad while he attempts to ensure his family can join him.

"I've already spent over 18 months without my family, I don't want it to go on," he added.

"Everyone at the club knows I am in Tunisia and I will not come back without my wife and son."

Bryan Jackson of administrators BDO claims the move will allow negotiations over securing the Kaunas-based bank's shares in the club to progress.

UBIG - which owns a 50 per cent share in the Tynecastle outfit and is owed £10million by the club - had its assets frozen earlier this year but administrators have yet to be appointed.

However, that process can now get under way following Friday's decision - although Jackson claims a final outcome is still some way off yet.

He said: "It's positive news for the club. At least the appointment of an administrator can now be made.

"Unfortunately, this is just the start of the process. From what I'm told by people in Lithuania, an appeal may be lodged and that can take up to 10 days.

"The initial timescale that I have been given is that it could take a number of weeks before we get a final resolution.

"However, the signs are good because we are finally getting to a point where the ownership of the shares will be resolved and we can start negotiations in the meantime."

BDO was appointed by the club last month and it hopes to find a new buyer for the club and settle their debts by way of a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

Three parties have submitted formal offers and proof of funding to BDO - supporters' consortium the Foundation of Hearts, HMFC Limited and Five Stars Football Limited.

BDO is now in the process of naming a preferred bidder.

As well as the money owed to UBIG, Hearts are also a further £15million in debt to another Kaunas-based firm, Ukio Bankas - which, like UBIG, was once controlled by former club owner Vladimir Romanov.

However, the bank - also in the hands of administrators - has a 29.9 per cent shareholding in Hearts and holds a floating charge on Tynecastle as security on its debts.

Ba signed from Newcastle in January to support Fernando Torres, but with Romelu Lukaku back from his loan at West Brom and Chelsea's pursuit of Manchester United striker Rooney ongoing, there has been speculation that his time at Stamford Bridge could soon end.

Jose Mourinho has insisted none of his players will be sold, but Ba would fall down the pecking order if Chelsea can successfully recruit Rooney, for whom they had a bid turned down last week.

"I will stay," Ba said.

"I think we need competition and we welcome the best players in this club.

"More competition is going to make me better anyway. All players want to play, not only centre forwards.

"We will all work in the same direction, for the club, to try and win the games."

Ba scored in the final match of the Asia tour, an 8-1 victory over the BNI Indonesia All-Stars in Jakarta.

Competition for places will resume - without Rooney - next week when the squad reconvene at their Surrey training base ahead of four matches in the United States, beginning against Mourinho's former club Inter Milan next Thursday.

Torres and five other players involved in the Confederations Cup - Juan Mata, Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Oscar and John Obi Mikel - will join up with the squad after missing the three-match tour to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.

Mourinho declared the tour of Asia a success after rapturous receptions in each location, including on the Blues' first trip to Indonesia.

The Portuguese suggested that 10 years ago, prior to Roman Abramovich's revolution of Chelsea, the club's reach would not have been so great.

"It is fantastic for us to see how big this club is becoming," Mourinho said.

"Our winning history is recent. In this club we have had a fantastic evolution and our success has come recently in football terms."

On the field, the players feel they are finding form at the right time, with the season commencing with two home games in four days - against Hull on August 18 and Aston Villa on August 21 - before travelling to Manchester United on August 26.

Defender Gary Cahill said: "It's been successful, it's been good.

"We're going home a lot fitter than we came and I think we've improved game after game. The lads are starting to look sharp.

"The US will be a lot tougher test for us. Hopefully we can kick on again.

"We've got a big squad going over to the US, I'm sure it will be rotated.

"We've got some great competition over there. It will certainly get us to the same sort of level to what we will face in Europe and the Premier League.

"It's all about getting games in now and getting ready for the start of the season."

The 20-year-old, strongly linked with the Gunners, has previously claimed that Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk have already made offers for his signature.

Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund are also reported to have shown past interest in the winger, who recently helped his club clinch the Copa Libertadores with a penalty win over Olimpia of Paraguay.

But, despite some reports claiming Bernard was on the cusp of a medical with Arsenal, Atletico Mineiro's director of football Eduardo Maluf says the offer they would require has yet to be received.

"The president has made it clear that if there is a 25m euros offer, he will sell Bernard and we will sign another player," Maluf declared.

"Otherwise Bernard stays. He is young and can leave at the end of the year.

"Arsenal have denied the Bernard rumour. He is the great player of the moment."

The 25-year-old, who captained the Black Cats under Steve Bruce and Martin O'Neill, is not in Hong Kong, where his team-mates will face Manchester City in the final of the Barclays Asia Trophy on Saturday, as he continues his recovery from a knee injury.

Summer signing Cabral wore Cattermole's number 6 shirt in Wednesday's 3-1 victory over Tottenham amid speculation that the former Middlesbrough and Wigan man is surplus to requirements at the Stadium of Light.

Di Canio told the Sunderland Echo: "He couldn't come [to Hong Kong] because he was not fully fit, in the opinion of both myself and the fitness coach.

"He is training with the reserves and then when we get back to Sunderland, he will be ready."

However, asked if the £6million signing had a future with the club, the Italian replied: "We will see. It depends."

Di Canio has already radically overhauled the squad he inherited from O'Neill having made nine new signings with more potentially on the way.

Simon Mignolet, Titus Bramble, Matt Kilgallon and Ahmed Elmohamady have left the club with Phil Bardsley and David Vaughan among those likely to follow.

There has been speculation that Alfred N'Diaye could also return to Turkey, and it remains to be seen if Cattermole, who has been training with the Under-21s, will be another to move on.

Like the midfielder, striker Steven Fletcher is working his way back to full fitness after undergoing ankle surgery in April.

The Scotland international was Sunderland's top scorer last season with 11 goals despite having to sit out the final eight games of the campaign, and is yet to play under his new manager.

Di Canio is not putting any timescale on his comeback.

The 45-year-old said: "He is improving, he has improved a lot. We can't say how much longer it will take, but there is a big improvement and we know all about the problem.

"We are very happy with his progress and we are waiting for him."

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