Injury may end Ryo's season
Wed, 13 Mar 2013 20:17:00
Millwall won 1-0 at Blackburn on Wednesday night to set up an FA Cup semi-final against Wigan at Wembley next month.
Captain Danny Shittu headed home Chris Taylor's corner in the 42nd minute of the sixth-round replay at Ewood Park, and it proved enough to take the Lions - runners-up in 2004 - through to the last four on the weekend of 13/14 April.
As in Sunday's meeting at The Den at the weekend, Blackburn sorely lacked creativity and ?11million strike force Jordan Rhodes and Leon Best drew a blank once more, although the latter had a second-half shot superbly cleared off the line by Shane Lowry.
Millwall now face a rematch of their 1999 Wembley defeat to Wigan in the Football League Trophy final, while results on Saturday could send Rovers into Sunday's east Lancashire derby against Burnley just three points above the relegation zone - an unthinkable second-consecutive relegation hovering ominously into view.
Blackburn started brightly and, having failed to register a shot on target at the weekend, they tested Lions goalkeeper David Forde through Best's speculative fourth-minute drive.
The Republic of Ireland international had a left-footed effort deflected behind in the 15th minute and, from the resulting corner, club stalwarts Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn combined for the latter to arch a shoot past the far post from 18 yards.
Moments later, Millwall attacked and Danny N'Guessan felt he was impeded in the area by Rovers skipper Scott Dann when trying to reach Andy Keogh's cross, but referee Mark Clattenburg disagreed.
In the 20th minute, Blackburn goalkeeper Jake Kean created danger all of his own making by leaving himself stranded en route to claiming a long Lowry free-kick that Rob Hulse glanced wide.
N'Guessan twice had shots blocked by Jason Lowe as Rovers failed to clear a corner before Taylor's deflected shot crashed into the side netting.
The former Oldham midfielder delivered the next set-piece and Shittu was allowed room to power home from close range.
In the second half, Lowry produced a telling block when Josh King volleyed goalwards after Dann headed Pedersen's 49th-minute corner across goal.
Pedersen wasted a promising free-kick position as frustrations among the home faithful audibly grew, but Best brought them to their feet in the 63rd minute, drifting through a static Millwall backline to see the sliding Lowry clear his from the goalmouth.
However, Rovers' challenge faded badly. Mark Beevers blocked a Nuno Gomes strike in the final minute before Taylor blazed wastefully over when trying to add late gloss to the scoreline.
Arena Coventry Limited (ACL) has announced it has made an application to the High Court in London to request that it make an administration order against the club.
The Sky Blues' owner, the hedge fund Sisu, is disputing the terms of the lease but the League One club would face a 10-point deduction by the Football League if they are placed into administration.
ACL is the Coventry City Council and Higgs Charity-owned company that runs the Ricoh Arena stadium and its chairman Nicholas Carter said: "It is highly unfortunate that we have had to take this course of legal action. Had we not taken this action, then the alternative might have been catastrophic for CCFC.
"We are owed a considerable amount of money in rent arrears. While it is imperative that ACL takes action to recover these arrears and to stop the arrears growing, it is important for us to find a solution that can provide for the survival of the Sky Blues. Hopefully this action will ultimately put CCFC on a stable financial footing for the future.
"Following recent statements in the media from the CCFC's owners threatening the Club with liquidation, we are keen to stop this from happening. Our action prevents Sisu simply closing CCFC and walking away from the situation.
"We are, of course, well aware that under the current Football League regulations, CCFC will face a points deduction and we will do everything we can to ensure that the case is heard by the High Court before the end of the current season. While this opens up the possibility of a 10-point deduction this season, the board believes this is better than leaving CCFC facing a much larger deduction at the start of next season."
In the next few weeks, the High Court will decide whether the club is fit to continue trading. If it decides it is not, it will be placed into administration and an administrator appointed to sell it.
Hurst is best known for scoring the hat-trick that secured England their lone World Cup title at Wembley in 1966.
But almost half a century later he has committed himself to working at grassroots level to provide a platform for the next generation of players and coaches in this country.
England's bid to bridge the divide on its major rivals has been a key focus of the Football Association in recent years with the opening of the state-of-the-art St George's Park training base in Burton ensuring a level footing at the elite level.
But Hurst, who has been working as McDonald's Director of Football in association with the FA for a decade, believes it is on the local parks where the biggest ground can be made up.
The sum of his work was spelled out in a report launched in front of Minister's of Parliament at the House of Commons on Wednesday, which revealed the grassroots game in the United Kingdom had "undergone a major transformation" in the past decade.
Amongst the figures released it was revealed 74 per cent of children's and youth FA Charter Standard clubs now have least one qualified coach while participation rates in girls' football had hit a high.
They are numbers to enthuse Hurst who, while admitting there is still work to be done, believes England's malaise on the world stage can be drawn back to more modest levels.
"We're not producing players and coaches," said Hurst.
"You only have to look at the Premier League where there is a dearth of players playing which is a problem for England. We don't have as many to choose from.
"We need some more. We are 10 years behind everyone else.
"We hope St George's Park is going to develop the quality we want. Maybe in 10 years' time we will we be able to look back and see that.
"But we need to be providing a stage for young players to come into the game and then, when they are playing, enjoying and learning from qualified coaches.
"You take the grassroots coaches away and you are going to have nothing. It's such an important issue.
"We are certainly behind places like Spain in terms of the numbers of players and the development. It's the same with Germany.
"But you can see us catching up. We are doing that."
Hurst believes previous systems have short-circuited England's efforts to produce the type and number of world-class players that he played alongside in 1966.
"We won the World Cup with four or five world-class players, that's how you are successful," he said.
"I don't think today we've got as many world-class players in these key positions now.
"There has been a lot of focus on Wayne Rooney in the past and coming through you look at Jack Wilshere who is a great prospect.
"But you worry about him with another injury. That's why we talk about the number of top-class players.
"We need two Jack Wilshere's because if one gets injured we have someone to take his place.
"A classic example is Jimmy Greaves. He was a world-class player, he got injured and I came in and take his place.
"I did all right. Not too bad so I heard."
When Hurst was growing up he did not play an organised match until he was 11, instead learning the game on the streets outside his Chelmsford home.
The 71-year-old knows those days are long gone, but believes a move toward small-sided pitches can help modern-day children to replicate the skills he learned on kerbsides in his formative years.
"Small-sided games take you back to the bones of what we did," he said.
"In the streets, the playground or with a tennis ball. We played in the playground with bomb shelters for goalposts.
"The backbone of our team in '66 - it was that way of playing, that simple system produced world-class players.
"Kids aren't going to play on the street now. We can get close as we can to doing that with these small-sided games.
"And if we can provide the coaches with the intelligence and education - to not over coach enjoy it - we can go far.
"My old coach Ron Greenwood, who knew a thing or two, at West Ham had a saying: 'Simplicity is genius'.
"Everything was simple. That's the way to do it."
The Japan international was carried off on a stretcher after being hurt in a challenge from Kevin Mirallas in Latics' stunning 3-0 FA Cup quarter-final win at Everton last weekend.
It is yet another setback for the 20-year-old, who has made just seven appearances for the club since joining on loan from Arsenal due to injuries.
Manager Roberto Martinez told the club's website: "It was a terrible challenge. We are waiting on the scan but we are not very positive on it.
"We think it will need a long recovery period and maybe he will even need surgery.
"We need to be a little bit expecting the bad news.
"He is very fortunate he has not got a broken leg because of the nature of the challenge.
"We feel he ruptured the ligaments. We will have to wait and see but he doesn't seem to have an opportunity to finish the season."
Martinez delivered a more positive update on Callum McManaman, who was one of the stars of Wigan's first-half display at Goodison Park but limped off soon after scoring the second goal.
Martinez said: "Callum McManaman is recovering well and probably it is more a matter of a week - five days to 10 days - that he is going to be out.
"We will see how he recovers day by day. The ankle is swollen but it is more of a normal injury."