Premier League

Moyes wants more from Fellaini

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Fri, 08 Feb 2013 17:59:00

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge will be assessed over the weekend to determine whether he is fit enough to face West Brom on Monday.

The England international pulled out of the midweek friendly against Brazil with a thigh problem sustained in last weekend's draw at Manchester City.

Winger Raheem Sterling, who also withdrew from international duty, is fit while new signing Philippe Coutinho has had his first week of training after his move from Inter Milan but may require more time.

West Brom left-back Goran Popov will start a three-match suspension after being sent off for spitting at Tottenham defender Kyle Walker, ruling him out of Monday's clash at Anfield.

Baggies midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu is in contention to return to the starting line-up for the first time since January 1 after returning to training this week following a knee problem.

Head coach Steve Clarke has to decide whether to recall striker Peter Odemwingie, who was left out against Spurs after the collapse of his transfer deadline day move to QPR.

Caley Thistle lost three games in eight days - including two cup ties against Hearts and Kilmarnock - before turning their attentions to tomorrow's visit of SPL leaders Celtic.

But Draper is determined to show the doubters this season's promise will not evaporate on the back of one week.

Inverness have come a long way since Terry Butcher assembled his team following a number of departures at the end of last season.

The previous visit of Celtic in August saw Neil Lennon's men win 4-2 but Draper's two late goals ensured the scoreline very much flattered Inverness.

But they subsequently only lost to Motherwell between that game and their current three-game losing run and won at Parkhead in November to prove wrong those who wrote off Inverness after that comprehensive defeat against Celtic.

Draper, who arrived from Macclesfield in the summer, said: "People are entitled to their opinion but we had a new team coming together.

"I think we have shown 20 games later, they are eating their own words. We have shown what we can do as a team that's used to each other.

"People are entitled to their opinions but it's nice to prove them wrong sometimes.

"The Celtic game at home was early doors, we hadn't moulded together as a team. We had a number of new faces and basically had a back four that hadn't played together.

"It took us maybe seven or eight games to get going and get our run started. We don't read too much into that game at home.

"The lads were terrific, I went down to watch them when I was injured, away from home against Celtic. Celtic are aware we could cause an upset on Saturday."

Draper insists nothing has changed in their approach since their losing run, which has seen luck go against Butcher's side.

They lost on penalties against Hearts in the Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final, were beaten by a late goal at St Mirren Park, and lost captain Richie Foran and playmaker Andrew Shinnie to injury in the first half of their William Hill Scottish Cup defeat by Kilmarnock.

And Draper has now set his sights on ensuring they make their season count as they look to hold on to second place in the SPL.

"It's more realistic now," he said. "Early on in the season people were saying: 'When is the bubble going to burst? They haven't got the squad to finish in the top six'.

"I think we have proved we can do that throughout the season.

"It might be a blessing in disguise that we have dropped out of the two cups so we can concentrate on the league and finish as high as possible. "Top six is very realistic for us but we want to finish in the top two or three if we can."

Clarke was unaware of an alleged bust-up between Odemwingie and right-back Steven Reid but believes his side are professional enough to deal with any tension in a positive manner.

Albion released a statement on Friday afternoon in which they confirmed the Nigerian international had been disciplined and had apologised for his recent actions.

The 31-year-old issued a series of Twitter rants against the club after a transfer request was rejected.

He then memorably turned up at Loftus Road without permission on transfer deadline day only to be left in the cold as his planned move to QPR collapsed.

Clarke said: "I don't think you can say everything is back to normal because what happened, the whole episode, is something that didn't need to happen.

"(But) I'm really pleased the club have come out with this statement because it gives me the chance as a head coach to move on.

"That's what myself and the players need to do. We need to move on and concentrate on the football. I think it is important you try and keep your squad together. That's what I've tried to do."

But Clarke admitted there may be some issues to resolve over time.

"It is difficult to comment on whether there is any hostility between individual members of the squad. They are in a different dressing room from me," he said. "Will Odemwingie's return have a destabilising effect? No it won't. I'm convinced of that.

"I couldn't deal with the matter until now. There was no resolution. Now there is a resolution we can move forward as a group of players. That is important."

He added: "I'm sure some of them will be happy the matter is resolved. In fact I'm hoping most, if not all of them, are happy the matter has been resolved and we can move on as a group of players.

"How people take it personally is between Peter and the other people. The most important thing is that professionally we move on as a group of players."

When asked to confirm if there had been a row between Reid and Odemwingie, Clarke said: "I don't know. If there has been a row between Steven and Peter, I'm sure it was an honest row.

"My biggest grievance on that one is if you are telling me someone in this building is letting stories out to the press, that's more upsetting for me than Peter and Steven having an exchange of words."

Clarke is still to decide whether Odemwingie will be part of the squad for Wednesday's trip to Liverpool.

He said: "That is still to be determined. I only got that statement half an hour before you guys so it's something we have to look at over the next two or three days. I'll involve him when I feel it is right to involve him."

Albion released the statement ahead of Clarke's weekly press conference at the club's training ground.

It read: "West Brom have taken disciplinary action against striker Peter Odemwingie in respect of his conduct over the past fortnight.

"Odemwingie has accepted his punishment. He will now resume full training with his team-mates and is available for first team selection."

Odemwingie said: "I understand how my actions have been viewed and I want to apologise to the club and our supporters for any distress I have caused.

"I want to reassure everyone at the club and our fans that I will continue to give my all whenever I am selected.

"We have enjoyed a good season so far and I aim to play my part in keeping the club as high up the table as possible."

Albion chairman Jeremy Peace said: "This has been an extremely difficult time for the club and it was imperative that we dealt with such a serious matter both fully and correctly.

"We made our position very clear throughout - both privately to Peter and publicly.

"Peter has apologised for his conduct to me personally and the club and our supporters as a whole.

"He has accepted his punishment and promised to comply with all club regulations moving forward.

"It was important that we resolved this episode as expediently as possible to enable everyone to focus on the most important issue at this club - competing in the Premier League."

The Glasgow giants this week vowed to defend any claim from finance firm Orlit after confirming they have been in dispute with the Singapore-based organisation over an "insignificant" debt.

Reports claimed the company could seek a winding-up petition over a ?400,000 bill for services relating to investments made when Charles Green's consortium bought the oldco Rangers' business and assets in the summer.

The dispute has put Rangers' finances under the spotlight again almost a year after the club was placed in administration, and subsequently consigned to liquidation.

"I don't think that's a bad thing actually," said McCoist. "Because of the recent history and going into administration just about a year ago next week, I'm actually delighted the finances of the club are being scrutinised.

"I don't have a problem with it at all.

"I'm aware that it's a natural thing, because of what's happened, for the finances of the club to be scrutinised even more.

"As manager and as a supporter, I'm all for it and I would hope the fans would think it's a good thing."

On the Orlit dispute, he added: "It's not my remit but, over the last year, I certainly know more about the financial situation within the club than most managers.

"What I've been told is, it's not a great issue.

"I don't really know what's normal in business transactions but I believe there was a dispute and the dispute is just about at an agreement.

"That's what I've been told. I'm not involved with it personally and I'm certainly not hands on in something like that.

"From what I've been told, it's maybe been completely blown out of proportion. I certainly hope that would be the case."

The true extent of Rangers' financial problems under the Craig Whyte regime became apparent when they were forced to call in the administrators on February 14 last year.

The fall-out saw the Light Blues lose their status as a Clydesdale Bank Premier League club and voted into the Irn-Bru Third Division.

McCoist said: "We're on the pathway but we're just at the start of the pathway.

"The support we've had has been nothing short of sensational and I think there has been a level of understanding shown by the support.

"We're going to get disappointments, like last week's cup game at Dundee United, but the most important thing is getting out of the division we're in.

"That will not change until we get back to the top league.

"To get back to where we want to be, it ain't going to be one giant leap, it's going be lots of small steps."

McCoist is seeking a positive reaction to last week's painful exit from the William Hill Scottish Cup at the hands of Dundee United, when the league leaders host nearest rivals Queen's Park tomorrow.

He said: "They have given us two really, really tough games.

"We won both of them but in the last one, in particular, at Hampden we scored late on through Fraser Aird.

"They are second in the league for a reason.

"I've known Gardner Speirs for a long time and he's a good coach.

"I don't particularly go along with this part-time philosophy - I think Gardner has a full-time train of thought and his players have a full-time train of thought.

"They are fit boys, they are young and athletic and they are organised.

"It's a great game for us tomorrow and it will be another tough one."

Fellaini - the Toffees' top-scorer this season with 11 goals in all competitions - was outstanding against United in August, netting the winner as his side got their 2012-13 top-flight campaign under way with a 1-0 victory at Goodison Park.

He also scored last term in a 4-4 draw between the two clubs in Manchester, which dealt what proved to be a major blow to the hosts' unsuccessful title bid.

Last Saturday Fellaini came to Everton's rescue with a brace to secure a 3-3 home draw with Aston Villa, and Moyes is optimistic the 25-year-old can again cause United, the current league leaders, plenty of problems on Sunday at Old Trafford.

"He is coming back into a little bit of form," Moyes, whose team are fifth in the table, said.

"He scored a couple of goals for us last week and he is the sort of player who seems to enjoy the bigger games."

Fellaini has been nursing a hip injury and did not play in Belgium's midweek 2-1 friendly win against Slovakia, but Moyes expects him to be fit for Sunday's game.

"He has got really bad bruising, but I think he will be okay," the Scot said.

Fellaini has become an increasingly influential player for Everton since they recruited him from Standard Liege in 2008 for a record fee of ?15million, and reports have suggested several major Premier League clubs are interested in making a move for him.

Chelsea are among those to have been linked with a move but Fellaini has been careful not to fan the flames.

He was this week quoted by Sport Wereld as saying: "I heard about that interest, but I've never really talked with Chelsea.

"In all seasons, there is talk on the grapevine about other clubs, but I was never personally around the table with another club.

"If Chelsea want me, they can cross that bridge, but for now I'm happy at Everton.

"If we finish in fourth place we will qualify for the Champions League and we are currently fifth."

Asked if he thought it would be better to play in the Champions League with Everton rather than Chelsea, Fellaini said: "Maybe, because Everton launched me in England.

"After this season I still have three years left on my contract and the club has become a bit like my family.

"I have a tremendously good relationship with the manager and my team-mates.

"People talk all the time about Chelsea like I've already signed. I am still an Everton player. "

Phil Jagielka is expected to be involved for Everton on Sunday despite sitting out England's 2-1 victory against Brazil, while fellow defenders Seamus Coleman (thigh) and Tony Hibbert (calf) remain sidelined.

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