Premier League

Reina slams 'absurd' Suarez ban

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Thu, 25 Apr 2013 13:01:00

Millwall boss Kenny Jackett has called on his players to lift themselves for Saturday's visit of Nottingham Forest.

The Lions' run to the FA Cup semi-final has left them with a fixture backlog but they are still not safe from relegation following back-to-back defeats.

However Jackett, whose preparations have been hampered by a suspension for skipper Danny Shittu, is confident his tiring squad can stagger over the line to safety.

"We've had a busier schedule than any club in the country and we are losing games by very thin dividing lines," said Jackett.

"It's a stretch at the moment with injuries and suspension but the players are giving everything, and they have to keep giving everything in order to get us over the line. My players don't lack commitment or effort.

"On Saturday we'll come out with some freshness and enthusiasm and hopefully add to our points tally. We are not a million miles from the line and it has to be a big effort from everybody at Millwall to get over it."

Lennon revealed there was anger in the dressing room after the four players were announced on Wednesday following the counting of the votes from their fellow professionals.

No Celtic player got more support in the main category than Motherwell striker Michael Higdon, Inverness midfielder Andrew Shinnie, Hibernian forward Leigh Griffiths and Aberdeen striker Niall McGinn - who was released by Celtic last summer.

Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama was named on the young player shortlist but Lennon viewed the democratic outcome as a snub to his side.

Lennon, whose team clinched the SPL title on Sunday, said: "It beggars belief that we make a semi-final of the League Cup, final of the Scottish Cup, win the championship, make the last 16 of Europe, beating Barcelona, beating Spartak Moscow, putting the country on the map again, and I think the outcome of those votes belittles all the efforts of the players. I think it's abysmal.

"Are people voting for the best player in Scotland or the most improved player in Scotland?

"There's a huge difference in my eyes and that's not taking anything from the candidates that were nominated.

"They have all had fine seasons, but to not have one Celtic player in that group is unbelievable."

When it was put to him that the votes for Celtic players might have been spread throughout his team, Lennon said: "I have no idea what way the voting goes but you can't tell me that (Fraser) Forster, Wanyama, Kris Commons, Kelvin Wilson, Gary Hooper weren't in the forefronts of people's minds when the votes were made. It's ridiculous.

"There is a lot of ill will in the dressing room now. The players are very, very disappointed with the outcome. They have performed heroically."

The long-serving shot-stopper, 27, overcame a heavily bruised foot to keep a clean sheet in the 1-0 victory over Gillingham and earned another against Jones' former club Exeter on Saturday with an impressive late save to keep out Jimmy Keohane's drive in the 1-0 win.

And Jones joked that he would injure Brown every week if it meant he kept responding with performances like Saturday's.

"Maybe we should bruise his foot even more, " the left-back quipped. "He has been doing this all season. He has my vote for player of the season.

"He has been outstanding and kept us in plenty of games with some outstanding saves. That is what he does week in, week out. And thankfully for us he pulled off that great save and we were able to go away with all three points."

Victory over Bradford on Saturday could see Cheltenham sneak into League One automatically should Rotherham lose to Aldershot.

The Polish hitman underlined his already booming reputation as one of Europe's best strikers with an unprecedented four goals in Wednesday's semi-final first-leg win over Real Madrid.

A star performance has only fuelled speculation of Lewandowski moving to Bayern Munich or Manchester United, while he has also been linked with Juventus.

The 24-year-old's contract does not expire until the summer of 2014 and has no release clause but his representative, Maik Barthel, claims an agreement is in place.

Barthel is quoted as telling Sport Bild: "We are in agreement with a club and have the right to change this summer. All the claims of Dortmund are met."

After the famous win over Real, Dortmund had insisted they had not given up hope Lewandowski could remain at the club.

Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp and chief executive officer Hans-Joachim Watzke both spoke of their desire to keep the 2010 signing from Lech Poznan.

But speculation in Germany is that Lewandowski will follow Mario Gotze in leaving Dortmund for bitter rivals Bayern this summer.

"I do not have the feeling that Robert is on the run and we are not the ones to send him away," said Klopp to ZDF television.

"Let's wait and see what happens next. This performance will definitely go down in history."

Watzke also remains hopeful that his wish of keeping Lewandowski will come true.

"Robert has a contract until 2014 and there is no exit clause like with Mario Gotze," said Watzke to Sky Deutschland.

"It is our explicit wish to keep him until 2014. That is why we are saying no to a transfer fee. Up to now a lot of wishes have come true in my life."

Lewandowski himself was also asked about a possible move to Bayern, but he would not be drawn on that.

"I will not comment on that because I'm focused on what I need to do with Borussia," he said.

"We have another match to go, hopefully two in the Champions League and that is the important thing - everything else will have to wait."

According to Sky Sports, Forster is set to pen a one-year deal with Hibs, after impressing manager Pat Fenlon.

The 19-year-old has already had experience away from the club following loan stints with East Fife and Berwick Rangers in recent years.

Now Forster is back in the capital and although yet to make his full debut, has been on the bench several times for the first-team this year.

The Spaniard has suggested that the FA "have it in for" his teammate, who is reportedly ready to quit English footbal over his harsh treatment.

He has previously been banned for eight matches for using racist language towards Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.

Reina told the Spanish radio station Cadena Cope: "I consider myself a friend of Luis. People in England are treating him different because he is Uruguayan; because he has had a previous episode like this.

"He knows perfectly well that what he did was wrong but a ten-game ban seems to me absurd, out of proportion and unfair. It seems that the people making the decisions have got it in for Luis a little bit.

"I know Luis and I know that he is the complete opposite: he is a magnificent person and great team-mate. But because of the way he plays, he is aggressive and very competitive, he plays like a street player and sometimes the way he is gets him into trouble.

"There is a lot of hypocrisy. Some players are treated differently to others. In the racism cases: the one with proof got a four-game ban and Luis got eight matches.

"I am not justifying what [Su?rez] did but the punishment is very disproportionate. He knows he was wrong, he knows he has made a mistake but the treatment is completely out of proportion."

Asked if this could result in Su?rez leaving Merseyside, Reina said: "Right now he is a Liverpool player. He is having a bad time of it and so is his family. He is certainly good enough to fit into any team in the world."

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