Premier League

Rafa heaps praise on Lampard

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Thu, 07 Feb 2013 19:24:00

Harry Redknapp says Loic Remy could make his return from injury when QPR visit Swansea this weekend.

There had been reports that the Frenchman faced up to two months on the sidelines after hurting his groin last Friday.

However, Rs boss Redknapp has rubbished those claims and says Remy will return at the Liberty Stadium providing he is satisfied the injury will not be aggravated.

"He's close to being fit for Saturday," Redknapp said. "He trained this morning, he's very close.

"But I don't want to rush him in case he breaks down."

Remy joined Rangers from Marseille last month in an ?8million deal and scored on his debut against West Ham.

Meanwhile, QPR chief executive Phil Beard admitted that relegation from the Premier League could hinder the club's hopes of building a new stadium.

"Premier League stability is important," said Beard. "We share a training ground that isn't right. We will build a new one.

"A new stadium is a long term goal. We have great fans but we need to grow that fan base to fill it.

"It is going to be a minimum of four of five years before we have a new stadium."

Redknapp added: "You only fill stadiums if you are in the Premier League."

Rangers will "vigorously defend" any claim from finance firm Orlit after confirming they have been in dispute with the company.

The Glasgow club released a brief statement on Wednesday night saying they had agreed a deal with Orlit over an "insignificant" debt, after reports claimed the firm would seek a winding-up petition over a ?400,000 bill.

Rangers repeated their claim that a deal had been agreed, but not completed, although they added they were still being "harassed".

The club said: "Rangers have been disputing a payment to a foreign company, Orlit, although it should be stressed we have never said there is no bill to be met.

"What we have said and what we are telling our supporters is that not all of the invoices submitted with regard to this bill are legitimate.

"Clearly there has been a lack of understanding within the media about this when all we have done is refuse to be forced into paying sums we do not owe. It's as simple as that."

Rangers again insisted that there was no threat to the club and added: "If Orlit wish to instruct their lawyers to go to court then we will defend our position vigorously.

"We are absolutely convinced we'd win but we did think it would be better to avoid giving our many detractors another bar with which to beat us over the head.

"That's why we made an offer to settle but we now find we are still being harassed."

Orlit have made no comment on the matter.

The statement was accompanied by a separate, near-1,200-word article, written by recently-appointed director of communications James Traynor, which hit out at media coverage of the club.

Ambrose and his Nigeria team-mates will face Burkina Faso on Sunday evening in the African Nations Cup final, placing a question mark over his availability for the first leg of the last-16 clash at Parkhead.

Lennon concedes the versatile defender is a doubt but will give him every opportunity ahead of Tuesday's European outing.

He told CelticTV: "Nigeria did fantastically well and Efe has played brilliantly in the game so I'm delighted for him in one way, but obviously very frustrated in another.

"The final is on Sunday and he probably won't get back until Monday evening, so he would be a doubt.

"We will get him into the squad and see how he is feeling."

Better news for Lennon is the likelihood that James Forrest and Fraser Forster will both be available for the visit of the Italian side.

Forrest has had a scan after returning to Celtic Park early from Scotland duty, having made his return from a hamstring injury against Raith Rovers last weekend.

Lennon said: "He's just having a wee problem with his hamstrings at the moment. He came off again on Sunday feeling a bit tight.

"He went away with Scotland and had a scan on Tuesday back in Glasgow.

"There was nothing on the first reading so we are hopeful he will be all right.

"He's going for a second one today just to confirm it.

"If that's the case, we'll maybe not have him for this weekend but he'll be in the squad for Juventus."

Forster should return against Inverness on Saturday after being sidelined with a neck injury, while striker Georgios Samaras (hamstring) and left-back Emilio Izaguirre (knee) are battling to recover from injury ahead of the Juventus game.

Lennon said: "Fraser should be all right for the weekend and, if he comes through that, then he'll be starting against Juventus.

"With Sammy, we're giving him every opportunity and we'll see how he is over the weekend. Emilio should be fit for the game."

Mulumbu suffered a knee injury before taking part in the African Nations Cup for DR Congo and on his return missed last Sunday's 1-0 home setback against Tottenham.

But he was back training with his team-mates on Thursday and optimistic he will be ready to face the Reds.

Mulumbu told Albion's official website: "I missed the QPR FA Cup game before the African Cup of Nations with what I thought was a small injury.

"But the intensity of the games in the African Cup of Nations meant I needed a rest when I came back.

"It was hard mentally and physically but I've had a good rest over the last week and I feel refreshed.

"Mentally it was hard not to get through the group and it was quite painful physically playing through the injury.

"But when you play for your country and fans you just get over it - and I did it.

"I have been training this week but today was my first day back training with all the team.

"I think I will be fit for Monday's game, my knee is getting better, and I felt really good today."

On Thursday afternoon Portsmouth's administrators, PKF, said they had received a new offer to buy the troubled club from former Football League chairman Keith Harris, which would rival the PST's bid.

Despite the football financier wanting the fans' group to be involved in the proposed takeover, the Football League has released a statement stating it will not consider any new bids for the struggling south coast outfit.

The statement read: "At its meeting in London earlier today, the board of the Football League was appraised of the current situation regarding the administration of Portsmouth Football Club in light of media reports that the administrator, PKF, is considering a new offer for the Club.

"The League had previously been informed by PKF that its preferred bid for the club was from the Pompey Supporters Trust (PST) and all parties have been focused on a successful transfer of share to that consortium.

"Given that the Football League's Insolvency Policy prohibits a club from beginning two consecutive seasons in administration, the board took the view that any change of preferred bidder at such a late stage would only create further uncertainty and was not in the wider interests of the League and its member clubs.

"Therefore, the League has informed the administrator that it will not currently consider transferring the club's share in The Football League to a new bidder.

"This means that in the event that the PST bid does not succeed and Portsmouth do not exit administration before the end of the current playing season, the club will lose its membership of The Football League."

The PST are the preferred bidder of PKF but their proposal hinges on buying the club's Fratton Park ground, which is still controlled by former Portsmouth owner Balram Chainrai.

PKF are seeking permission to sell the ground and are due in court with Chainrai's company Portpin next Thursday.

Pompey have been in administration since February last year and will be deducted 10 points if and when they exit. They are currently second from bottom in League One, two points above Hartlepool, having lost their last eight matches.

The 41-year-old has been in charge of the Denmark Under-21 side, but is to give up the role to move to the Liberty Stadium, and his switch could be confirmed before the weekend.

Erik Larsen has been working as Laudrup's right-hand man so far this season, but it is believed he will be moved into a position with more focus on scouting, while Alan Curtis will remain as a first-team coach.

During his time in Glasgow Wieghorst helped Celtic end Rangers' run of nine-straight SPL titles, before being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2000 and making a remarkable return to resume his playing career.

Wieghorst, who played alongside Laudrup for Denmark, left the Hoops in 2002 to become one of his former team-mate's first signings at Brondby.

The highlights of his managerial career to date have been the consecutive Danish Cup triumphs he oversaw with Nordsjaelland, before taking the reins of the national under-21 side.

He was also viewed as a potential successor to Morten Olsen, with the boss of the senior Denmark side set to step down next year, but the chance to return to club football has been too strong a draw.

The move to bring in Wieghorst would suggest Laudrup has no intention of leaving the Liberty Stadium, having been linked with Real Madrid and Chelsea.

Despite the speculation, the Swans boss does not believe there is any need to rush a decision over extending his contract, which runs out at the end of next season.

Laudrup has taken the club to new heights after building on the foundations laid by Brendan Rodgers.

The Swans sit in the top half of the Premier League table and will play in their first major cup final when they face League Two Bradford in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley later this month.

Chairman Huw Jenkins is keen to tie his manager to a longer-term deal and avoid a repeat of the departures of Rodgers and Roberto Martinez before him.

But with that Wembley final, important Premier League games and next week's warm-weather training camp in Dubai on the horizon, Laudrup does not believe his contract is a matter that needs to be dealt with immediately.

He said: "I think for me the present is more important than the future, we have so many things coming up now and I already have a contract for next season so it is not urgent for me.

"We have some very important things to deal with right now. I am talking to the chairman a lot of times every week and we talk about a lot of things."

But several of Laudrup's players have recently committed their futures to the club, and goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel became the third this week after agreeing a two-and-a-half-year deal through to 2015.

He joins midfielder Leon Britton and defender Garry Monk in putting pen to paper, and Laudrup said: "It's good to get the players signed up, they are important to us.

"We need to do it quick sometimes because it is difficult to compare and compete with the salaries of other clubs.

"You never know their other possibilities, you have to ask them, but we have to be realistic and know how it is here and the structure is working well.

"We know other clubs pay more money but players sign because they want to stay here which is good for us."

Following Lampard's decisive goal for England in Wednesday night's 2-1 win over Brazil, it was reported the 34-year-old had been offered new contract to extend his 12-year stay at Chelsea.

Such a move would suggest an about-turn by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who previously had been prepared to allow Lampard to leave at the end of the season.

Chelsea declined to comment when asked about Lampard, but Benitez was upbeat when asked about the midfielder's performance against Brazil.

"He's scoring goals for us already and I think he's doing well," Benitez told Chelsea TV.

"Ninety-four caps is a fantastic achievement. If he can get 100 it will be really positive and it will mean he will be fit, he will be playing and he will be doing well."

A 27th international goal on the occasion of his 94th cap showed Lampard still has a future with England, who beat Brazil for the first time in 23 years, and prompted England boss Roy Hodgson to state his preference for the midfielder to stay in Europe ahead of the 2014 World Cup. That could yet be at Stamford Bridge.

Despite the uncertainty over his future, Lampard has performed well this term, scoring 12 times to move five behind the Blues' goalscoring record of 202 held by Bobby Tambling.

Should Lampard stay on, it would come as a welcome boost following the contract extension signed by Ashley Cole, who won his 100th England cap against Brazil.

Benitez added: "Ashley Cole - 100 caps is an amazing, a great achievement for anyone, and for a player in the England squad, which is very competitive, so even better."

Lampard said of Cole on Chelsea's website: "It's a fantastic achievement. He's been an unbelievably consistent performer both for club and country, and he started all of those games which makes it all the more incredible.

"The consistency levels he's shown, particularly when you consider Leighton Baines has been around for a while now, have been great.

"For me, he's been one of the best in the world, and to be the first full-back to reach 100 caps is brilliant."

If Lampard does stay on, he could outstay Benitez, who is under contract only until the end of the season.

Lampard, who joined in 2001 from West Ham, could even be reunited with Jose Mourinho, who has been linked with a return to west London from Real Madrid.

Overall Benitez was happy with the midweek international fixtures, reporting no fresh injuries as players returned to Chelsea's Surrey training base.

"The international break normally is a problem, but this one we can consider was positive," Benitez said.

David Luiz, who has struggled with injury in recent weeks, captained Brazil against England, and again Benitez praised the achievement.

"To be the captain of Brazil is a great achievement for David," Benitez said.

"We were thinking maybe he could play less minutes, but he said that he was fine."

Cesar Azpilicueta made his debut for Spain against Uruguay in Qatar, with Juan Mata also featuring, while John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses were part of the Nigeria team which progressed to the African Nations Cup final, meaning their returns to London will be delayed.

The pair will miss Saturday's Premier League clash with Wigan.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech, another long-serving Blue, could be doubtful after a finger injury saw him withdraw from international duty with the Czech Republic.

Demba Ba's fitness status is uncertain after the striker suffered a broken nose against his former club Newcastle last weekend. Ba may be able to feature with a protective face mask.

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