Premier League

Rodgers annoyed by scheduling

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Fri, 15 Feb 2013 18:19:00

Manuel Pellegrini's agent claims an intermediary representing Chelsea has sounded him out about the availability of the Malaga coach.

Jesus Martinez also told a Chilean newspaper that Pellegrini would love to manage in the Barclays Premier League one day and will make a decision about his future in the coming months.

Chilean Pellegrini, who has a contract with Malaga until June 2015, has been a huge success at the Spanish club since taking charge two years ago.

The 59-year-old led them to a fourth-placed finish last season and this term has guided them through to the last 16 of their maiden Champions League campaign as well as keeping them near the top of the Primera Division.

That has not gone unnoticed across Europe and, according to Martinez, Roma were recently in contact following the sacking of Zdenek Zeman.

Martinez also said other clubs had been in touch about the former Real Madrid and Villarreal boss, including Chelsea, whose interim manager Rafael Benitez's contract runs out at the end of the season.

Chelsea have been linked with Pellegrini in the past but the club have not publicly acknowledged an interest, and Martinez stressed he has not received an official approach from the Blues.

Martinez said in Chilean newspaper El Mercurio: "Manuel has a contract with Malaga. I think that in April and May we will be clear about what will happen with his future.

"Our first intention is to respect our commitment, but it also depends on what the conditions are.

"We had a formal offer from Roma, but we rejected it. It was less than 15 days ago, but we discarded it outright because we are in the middle of the season.

"Chelsea and other clubs have asked, but only through intermediaries, nothing official. Manuel would love to coach in the English Premier League, as he would in Germany, Italy and other important leagues.

"There's plenty of time to analyse what we will do next season."

Lund, a midfielder who can also play in defence, will be available for Saturday's League Two fixture against promotion rivals Northampton at Roots Hall.

Manager Paul Sturrock said: "Matthew has played a number of games at this level already this season so he knows exactly what to expect.

"We saw him play against us earlier in the season when we won 3-2 at Bristol Rovers and we knew then he was a good player.

"We are delighted to have been able to bring him in to help us with all the injuries we have been suffering from of late."

Lund began his career in the youth set-up at Crewe before joining Stoke in 2009.

The 22-year-old has yet to make a senior appearance for Tony Pulis' side but has enjoyed loan spells at a number of clubs.

In 2010 he made three appearances for Hereford before making a further three for Oldham.

In January 2012 Lund joined Bristol Rovers and played 13 times for the club, scoring two goals. He returned to Rovers this summer and has made 20 appearances for them in all competitions.

Forward Dani Lopez and defender Bondz N'Gala have both joined on loan from Stevenage on initial one-month deals, while Belgian defender Chiro N'Toko has been offered a contract until the end of the campaign.

Lopez joined Boro at the start of the season after arriving from Spain but failed to break into the side and spent three months at Aldershot, where he scored six goals in 12 appearances.

N'Gala, another summer signing for Gary Smith's League One side, has played 19 times but has not featured since a 2-1 defeat to Doncaster in January.

He began his career at West Ham, where he made one League Cup appearance before joining Plymouth Argyle and then moving on to Yeovil.

N'Toko, who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, made 14 appearances for Dutch side Den Haag last season.

Meanwhile, Harry Crawford has returned to Dartford on a one-month loan.

The striker joined from the Blue Square Bet Premier side in January, but has been allowed to return for first-team football following the arrivals of Lopez and Craig Beattie at Underhill.

In this weekend's only top-flight fixture, the Reds face the Swans - who are in next Sunday's Capital One Cup final - having already played twice this week.

Rodgers' men lost 2-0 at home to West Brom in the Premier League on Monday evening and were then beaten by the same scoreline at Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa League last-32 tie - the second leg of which is next Thursday.

Asked about the timing of the match against his former club Swansea, Rodgers said: "I was very disappointed with the Premier League to be honest.

"To put it in on a week when we have played on a Monday and played on a Thursday in an away trip to Russia, and put it in between that and another important European game on Thursday...I think it is another example of the Premier League in this country not helping teams whatsoever.

"I think every other country in Europe will always try to help their teams - some of them will play on a Friday before a European game.

"So for us to have it thrown in there when there were other free weeks was bemusing to say the least."

Liverpool have forward Daniel Sturridge and midfielder Philippe Coutinho back available for Sunday's game.

The pair return to the squad having both been ineligible for Thursday's match, with Rodgers confirming Sturridge - who has been nursing a thigh problem - is fit to play.

Coutinho, a January signing from Inter Milan, made his Reds debut as a substitute in the West Brom contest and asked if the Brazil international might be in line for his first Liverpool start this weekend, Rodgers said: "He is certainly in my thinking.

"He has come in and needed that little bit of time to adapt to the new way of working and new life, but you can see the kid's qualities.

"He has got good experience for a young player, so on Sunday we will have a look."

Daniel Agger, after criticising his own performance in the West Brom defeat on Twitter, did not travel to Russia but Rodgers has indicated the defender will be involved against Swansea and praised the contribution he has made since the start of the campaign.

"He has been outstanding this season - he has that real warrior spirit," Rodgers said.

"We have just had a little run of games where as a team - and for us, there is no blame on the individual - we haven't defended as well as what we had done.

"He is one of the top European centre-halves and we are very happy to have him here."

Rodgers feels the past four games - 2-2 league draws away against Arsenal and Manchester City, followed by the two 2-0 losses - have "typified" Liverpool's campaign.

Lying ninth in the Premier League, the Reds are currently 12 points behind fourth place with 12 games to go and their manager admits that after the West Brom result, while still theoretically possible, securing a Champions League berth this term is going to be "very, very difficult".

Rodgers believes more maturity is required in the Merseysiders' performances as they seek out some consistency.

But while his team might be a work a progress overall, the Northern Irishman has stressed his players are already giving him everything he could wish for with regard to their effort.

Rodgers said: "We may not be just good enough at the end of the day.

"We have some top players here and some world-class players, but it might not be this year for us that we can make that jump.

"But certainly, what we will do in every game is give everything and like we have seen in the last two games, in terms of the work rate, intensity and effort the players are putting in, I can't ask for any more."

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