Premier League

Sunderland suffer double blow

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Wed, 27 Mar 2013 16:13:00

Kyle De Silva is hoping he can impress Ian Holloway during his spell at Barnet on loan from Crystal Palace.

The teenage midfielder has not featured for Palace since Holloway took charge at Selhurst Park but is hoping first-team action for the Bees between now and the end of the campaign can improve his prospects with the npower Championship club.

De Silva must first help move Edgar Davids' side away from the relegation places, a challenge he is relishing.

He told Barnet's official website: "It is very hard to break in and make an impression when the team are flying. Hopefully I can do that whilst on loan.

"It will be great to get some first-team action and I am really looking forward to making an impact at Barnet.

"The team have picked up some good results lately so hopefully I can help keep that up. I am very grateful I have been given the opportunity to come here."

And Hendrie feels prosperous times could lie ahead if they stick with Paul Lambert - as long as a few more experienced players are added to the squad.

With eight Barclays Premier League fixtures left to play this term Villa are 17th in the table, three points clear of 18th-placed Wigan, who have a game in hand.

It has been a largely disappointing campaign for the midlands outfit following Lambert's appointment as manager last summer, but back-to-back wins over fellow strugglers Reading and QPR in the past two matches have boosted hopes - including those of Hendrie - that it will not end in relegation.

The 35-year-old, who made his Villa debut in 1995 and left the club in 2007, said: "They have done superbly in the last two games. Now it is about keeping that momentum running.

"They still have to play the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United, where they will need to dig deep.

"Even if they are just getting draws along the way, if they can keep that unbeaten run going, I do fancy them to stay up."

Villa's team this season has not had a great deal of Premier League experience within it and has featured lots of players in their early 20s.

Hendrie, who came through the club's youth ranks, sees plenty to be encouraged by in the efforts of those players and views Lambert as the right man to lead Villa forward.

But thinking back to the kind of team-mates he had when he first came into the side, Hendrie does believe some older heads need to be introduced to the mix.

Hendrie said: "There are a lot of clubs chopping and changing managers, but (Villa chairman) Randy Lerner has stuck with him (Lambert), he knows he has got the youth there and I think it is just about making sure they stay up this year and then maybe getting a few experienced heads in, and I don't think there will be a problem there.

"This season it is vital that they stay up and then I would definitely still have him as manager.

"No disrespect to the young lads, but I think you do need a few older, more experienced players that have played in the Premier League and know how to win games.

"It is all a learning curve. When I was playing you had the likes of Steve Staunton, Ugo Ehiogu, Dwight Yorke.

"When you were 2-0 up in games, they would help reshape you, whereas when you are young you want to just keep going, running and chasing about."

Much has happened to Hendrie since the early days of his career, not least in financial terms.

Life as a well-paid top-flight footballer allowed him to build up a significant property portfolio, but he encountered problems and in January 2012 was declared bankrupt.

By that stage he had also made a considerable descent down the football ladder and was playing at non-league level.

The decline in his fortunes led to him attempting to take his own life.

"I wasn't thinking straight - I was just thinking it was probably the only way I could possibly finish it all," Hendrie said.

"I'm not proud of attempting it, but it had just got to that stage where I felt like I had let everyone down.

"But if it hadn't been for the decisions I made, and if I had got the right advice, I wouldn't have been in that situation."

Hendrie feels the management of players' money is a major problem, and regards the kind of work done by Birmingham-based charity Xpro - which provides support in various ways for former professional footballers, including an initiative announced last week to help reunite them with their unclaimed pensions - as vital.

Looking to the future, the one-time England international, currently playing for Blue Square Premier side Tamworth, hopes to make a difference himself in his role as the director of FootieBugs, a football-based activity scheme for children aged three to nine.

"This scheme I am doing covers a lot of areas, and I want to put all my time and effort into it," Hendrie said.

"I am finishing with Tamworth at the end of the season, and this is going to be my key thing for the rest of my life - I want to help young kids and get the point across about football, life skills, everything."

Welsh aspirations of securing a place at the 2014 World Cup were effectively ended by the 2-1 defeat to Croatia in Swansea, a result which leaves manager Coleman's side 10 points off the pace in Group A with only 12 up for grabs.

Wales have paid the price for a poor start to the campaign, having lost three of their first four games and, as with their Euro 2012 campaign, an improvement in form has come too late.

Coleman, whose current contract runs up to the 2014 finals in Brazil, recently admitted it had taken the 6-1 mauling in Serbia last September for him to come to terms with the task of succeeding Gary Speed following the death of his close friend.

Coleman had been loath to put his own stamp on the Wales set-up after vowing to continue Speed's legacy, but decided he had to start doing things his way to make the most of his time in the job.

Since then results and performances have improved, and the first-half performance against Croatia was the best of his reign to date.

Skipper Williams believes the recent upward trend means the Football Association of Wales should hand Coleman an extension to his contract, and says Wales are now producing the sort of form they showed towards the end of Speed's time in charge.

Williams said: "We definitely want him to stay, obviously I've been saying for a long time that he is doing a great job.

"He came in and took the job in unbelievably tough circumstances, but I think you can see it's getting back to where it was under Gary Speed.

"The last two camps with him have been brilliant, I think that's really pleasing and it would be stupid to change the manager, no one would say they want to see a change."

Swansea defender Williams, who Coleman installed as captain in October, believes a positive energy has been restored to Welsh football despite Tuesday's defeat.

And he has demanded a strong finish to the current campaign, in order to give Wales the best chance of reaching an expended Euro 2016.

Williams said: "Getting to Rio is probably over for us now, but third place is achievable and we've seen enough campaigns when we have finished lower than we've needed to and then paid for it in the next qualifier.

"It is important. We have a feelgood factor around the place on the back of the win over Scotland, we are all happy and confident and enjoy ourselves here; we want to finish the group strongly."

Wales had held a half-time through a Gareth Bale penalty in Swansea, before Dejan Lovren and Eduardo stole the points for Croatia.

But Wales should have been further ahead at the interval after Bale, in red-hot form for club and country, spooned a shot over the bar when clean through on goal.

It ultimately proved costly for the home side.

"It was an important moment, you can't say it was his fault or anything like that, but you'd bet your house on him to score and he put it over," said Williams, who will face Bale when Tottenham visit Swansea on Saturday.

"He's only human and he missed that. We didn't really create many more clear-cut chances after that, and it would have been better to go into the break two up."

Following defeat at Aston Villa before the international break, QPR stand seven points adrift of safety heading into the final eight games.

That deficit could be widened further by the time Harry Redknapp's men tackle west London rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage on Easter Monday.

However, Jordan insists that with the likes of Bobby Zamora and ?8million French forward Loic Remy, the Hoops - with seven goals in their past three matches - have what it takes to pull off what would be a remarkable escape.

"We have the players now that are capable of taking the game to the opposition," former Scotland star Jordan told the club website.

"Bobby is back fit, Remy is back in - we have a depth there now that we didn't have (before).

"When we arrived here we could only really play in a certain way, but that has changed now.

"We had to defend and play on the break, whereas now we can take the game to the opposition when it is needed.

"Performance-wise, we are improving all the time and there is a belief in the camp, because we are playing well.

"The performance (at Aston Villa) last week was excellent. Going forward that was the best we have played since we have got here.

"There are eight games ahead of us and there are games we think we can win.

"Harry has been in circumstances like this before and I have worked with him during those. Harry's teams have achieved what we are asking these players to go and achieve in these last eight games for QPR.

"The possibilities (of survival) are there - we have just got to make sure we don't create our own problems.

"If we can play the way that we have played recently we will score goals, we have just got to make sure those goals win us games."

QPR had plenty of the first-team squad away on World Cup qualifying duty, including defender Tal Ben Haim who played in Israel's 2-0 win over Northern Ireland in Belfast last night.

Redknapp, meanwhile, watched goalkeeper Julio Cesar play for Brazil in their international friendly draw with Russia at Stamford Bridge on Monday evening.

QPR defender Fabio da Silva maintains the squad are focused on delivering the required performance at Craven Cottage to kick-start their survival bid.

Speaking to QPR Player, the 22-year-old on-loan Manchester United full-back said: "We have played well in the last few games, but the result against Aston Villa did not come.

"Now, though, we have to forget those results, they are history, and focus on the next one which is the most important.

"It (survival) is hard, but not impossible, we have to go from game to game.

"We must not think about the five games we have to win, we just have to get the three points in the next one, then look to the game after that.

"We 100 per cent believe we can stay in the Premier League."

Oakley, along with Liam Sercombe, Alan Gow and Tommy Doherty, is currently sidelined, with none of that quartet close to a return.

The Grecians have had to make do with virtually a whole midfield missing, although the loan acquisitions of Lawson D'Ath from Reading and Brighton's Anton Rodgers have boosted the ranks.

The former Leicester man's absence has been a huge blow for Paul Tisdale's side but he believes his side are well equipped to prevail in the face of adversity.

"It's our whole midfield and a hell of a thing for the club to overcome really," he told the Western Morning News. "It's four strong players in the team and all with long injuries.

"You can get by if you miss them for a few weeks but Alan has been out for a while now, Tommy is still a few weeks away and Liam is out for the whole season with me.

"It is unfortunate, but the team reacted well against Bradford. Hopefully we can just keep the momentum going."

After signing a one-year contract extension with Manchester United, Giggs will join that exclusive band next season.

So far, taking out the 10 goalkeepers who have done it, there are only two members, Gordon Strachan and Giggs' former Red Devils team-mate Teddy Sheringham.

Indeed, such are the fitness levels Giggs has managed to maintain throughout the latter stages of his career, no-one would be that surprised if he went on to fulfil the assessment Sir Alex Ferguson made yesterday by completing two more campaigns with the Old Trafford outfit.

However, the veteran Welshman believes advances in sports science make it easier for players to prolong their careers if they retain the desire to do it.

"There are two ways of looking at it," Giggs told MUTV.

"Players are getting a lot of money now. Do they want to play on to their late 30s?

"But there is the other side. With the involvement of sports science, players looking after themselves more - and the facilities are so much better.

"So if they want to, and if they have the desire, players can go on a lot longer than they used to."

His recent appearance against Real Madrid was Giggs' 1000th in senior football.

As the 39-year-old won 64 caps for Wales and also represented the Team GB at the Olympics on four occasions, he still has some work to do before he reaches four figures for United alone.

Yet even reaching his present mark seemed fanciful when he made his debut against Everton in 1991.

"As you enter your 30s, you are just trying to play for as long as you can and get as much out of the game as you can," he said.

"Luckily, I have managed to stay injury free and also had the continuity of the manager.

"I have looked after myself as well, but no-one could envisage getting to 1000 games."

The chances are Giggs will play in one, but not both, of United's two fixtures in 48 hours over the Easter weekend.

That he has not been away on international duty lends itself more to the belief he will be involved in Saturday's Premier League scrap at Sunderland, when the Red Devils, briefly, will look to open up an 18-point lead on Manchester City, rather than Monday's FA Cup quarter-final replay at Chelsea.

Giggs admits having two games in such close proximity is unusual.

However, with Chelsea retaining an interest in the Europa League, the alternatives were not immediately obvious.

"It is strange to have two important games in such a short space of time," he said.

"But I guess it was a question of trying to fit it in.

"The squad is looking good at the minute and hopefully after the international break everyone will have a fully fit squad and we will be able to handle two games in 48 hours."

Despite heading League One for much of the season, a run of seven defeats in 10 has seen Ronnie Moore's side slip down the table.

Sunday's 3-1 win over Stevenage dragged them back into the top six and Power believes they must start to look up the division again.

"We are all going on about staying in the top six but I don't think it's out of our reach to go up automatically," he told Wirral News.

"If we can be a bit more consistent, put a run together now, it's possible. Who is to say we could not go out and win the next six games? Anything can happen in this division.

"We're going into the next game against Sheffield United with great confidence. If we can get three points from that one we'll be right back in the mix for automatic promotion."

The teenage striker has not featured for Palace since Holloway took charge at Selhurst Park but is hoping first-team action for the Bees can improve his prospects with the Championship club.

De Silva must first help move Edgar Davids' side away from the relegation places, a challenge he is relishing.

He told the club's official website: "It is very hard to break in and make an impression when the team are flying. Hopefully I can do that whilst on loan.

"It will be great to get some first-team action and I am really looking forward to making an impact at Barnet.

"The team have picked up some good results lately so hopefully I can help keep that up. I am very grateful I have been given the opportunity to come here."

The team's scoring struggle is at the heart of their uninspiring start to life under O'Neill, who has yet to taste victory in nine matches at the helm.

In five World Cup qualifiers to date they have found the net just three times, all in draws, and have surrendered plenty of winnable points along the way.

They created more than enough chances to put away both Luxembourg and Azerbaijan at home and were on top for much of last night's 2-0 defeat to Israel only to pay for their lack of goals by conceding twice in the last 13 minutes.

O'Neill knows his side must begin finding the target soon, but with record goalscorer David Healy now limited to cameos from the bench and no natural successor emerging from the pack that will be a challenge.

"We got a wee bit of a lesson from Israel in terms of being clinical," said the former Shamrock Rovers boss.

"But it's not as though I can go out and buy a striker, we don't have that luxury.

"We did miss (the suspended) Kyle Lafferty last night, no doubt.

"David has had a marvellous career for us but he's not playing regular club football and his impact may be limited coming off the bench.

"The other players we have in that position are very inexperienced at international level.

"We do a lot of attacking play, working on movement and shape and you can do all that in training but the players know themselves when we've had the opportunities we've not done well enough with conversion in any of the games.

"It's not just the forwards, right through the team we've been missing chances."

O'Neill, like his predecessor Nigel Worthington, is having to rely on a handful of players who are not automatic starters to change the national side's fortunes.

It is a fact of life for Northern Ireland, but that does not make it any easier for the manager.

"At this minute, look at our left side: young Danny Lafferty and Shane Ferguson," he said.

"They're not established at club level and we're asking them to play important international games. "They're learning on the job and maybe we're asking too much from them at times."

Captain Steven Davis, who went closest to scoring for Northern Ireland when his close-range shot was blocked by the face of Israel's goalkeeper Dudu Aouate, is no less frustrated than his manager.

Like O'Neill he is awaiting a first victory since taking on the role and is getting tired of what is becoming an all-too familiar script.

"We were happy with the performance but not the result. It's the same old story in many ways," said the Southampton midfielder.

"We dominated the game for long spells but failed to find a killer touch.

"It's just the luck we're having at the minute. We are being punished for every mistake.

"We switched off at the back for the first time and we were punished. Obviously the heads drop when that happens.

"It's difficult to come back at this level."

A place in the top two is now an unrealistic prospect, with fourth probably the most realistic target.

It is hardly a glamourous goal but one Davis is ready to take on.

"It's a long way back," he admitted.

"Had we won it would have kept us in the picture, but we've just got to dust ourselves down and prepare for the next game and try to pick up a win as soon as possible."

Pools feared Baldwin could be ruled out for the rest of the season when scans confirmed he had damaged medial ligaments in the goalless home draw with Colchester earlier this month.

But the 19-year-old, operating in a midfield role in the weeks leading up to his injury, returned to full training this week and is scheduled for a run out with the reserves on Wednesday.

"Jack has worked ever so hard with Buster (physio Ian Gallagher) and Ryan (Carmody) to get himself back to fitness and trained well on Tuesday," Micky Barron told the club's official website.

"It was an intense session so I expect we'll try and get 45 minutes out of him and take it from there, but it's brilliant to have him back.

"He has to take a lot of credit for the way he's worked on things and the medical staff have worked wonders on him."

Pools goalkeeper Andy Rafferty is expected to return to action in the same match for the first time since undergoing summer knee surgery.

"It's a big boost having the players back from injury," added Barron. "We told Andy he would be playing and obviously he was like a kid in a sweet shop because he's so excited to get back out there."

The Gunners will resume domestic action with a home match against relegation-battlers Reading, an encounter they must win to keep pressure on both Chelsea and Tottenham in the race for Champions League qualification.

With just one defeat in the last seven league games, coming at White Hart Lane, Arsene Wenger's men find themselves four points behind arch-rivals Spurs, but crucially with a match in hand.

Arsenal have endured one of the most testing campaigns under Wenger's tenure, with the 2-0 win in Bayern Munich earlier this month one of the few highlights.

Monreal, however, insists it is now down to the players to focus on delivering a positive end to what others have labelled a season of turmoil at the Emirates Stadium.

In an interview with the April edition of the official Arsenal magazine, Monreal said: "We still have matches left to fix the situation and to try to meet our objectives.

"It is logical that people talk because the situation has not been as it should be, but the players and club in general have to ensure that doesn't affect us.

"We have to use our energy for the matches. If you are thinking of what people are saying, you are wasting that energy. You have to concentrate on the next match.

"Every fixture now is a final we have to win. That has to be our mentality. I am sure we will put it right."

Monreal, 27, has settled quickly since his January deadline day signing from Malaga, scoring his first Arsenal goal in the 2-0 win at Swansea before the international break and then impressing in last night's World Cup qualifying win for Spain over France in Paris when deputising at full-back for the injured Jordi Alba.

Gunners midfielder Santi Cazorla praised the speed at which his former Malaga team-mate has taken to the hustle-and-bustle of the English top flight.

"Nacho is a footballer I really enjoy watching and playing with. He has adapted to the Premier League very well. What's more, our style of play suits him because he is someone with a lot of movement," Spain international Cazorla told Arsenal Player.

"He is a very good signing, and is proving it.

"I think Arsenal have really got it right with the transfer. I am very happy because he is a great mate."

Like most Premier League clubs, the majority of the Arsenal squad were away on international duty this week.

However, England duo Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott were not involved in the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.

Walcott returned early after picking up what was described as a "minor hip/groin injury" in training ahead of the San Marino game, during which Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored in the 8-0 route.

Midfielder Wilshere, meanwhile, has not played since the defeat at Tottenham on March 3 after he was rested because of an ankle problem. His rehabilitation schedule - which included a trip to Dubai - was set to see Wilshere feature again this weekend.

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, meanwhile, will be hoping for a recall having been dropped against Bayern and then benched at Swansea - which prompted an outburst from his father and a subsequent clarification from the Poland international, reaffirming his commitment to the club and support for Wenger.

Rooney scored for the fourth successive qualifier in Tuesday night's 1-1 draw in Podgorica - the first England player to achieve that feat since David Beckham 10 years ago.

The Manchester United striker had been sent off on his last appearance in the stadium 17 months ago but his behaviour ensured a repeat was never likely to happen.

Gerrard said: "Wayne is a fantastic player and a great goalscorer. If the lads in the team can create the service for Wayne, we know he will score goals.

"He also deserves credit for that goalscoring record. Hopefully he will get more goals and fire us to the World Cup.

"I also thought his behaviour was magnificent. He had been on the agenda in the press all week with people wondering how he was going to behave.

"I thought he handled himself magnificently and got us that important goal."

Rooney's goal was his 35th for his country and he is now only five behind fourth-placed Michael Owen in the all-time list of England goalscorers.

But his header failed to secure victory as Montenegro staged a second half revival to equalise through substitute Dejan Damjanovic and remain two points clear of England.

Gerrard said: "At half-time we were very happy. We were in control and we played very well for 45 minutes.

"Then for some reason we stopped playing after the break and we let Montenegro back into the game.

"We finished the game really strongly but we are disappointed with the 30 minutes in the second half when we let them back into the game.

"We should have taken control. You need to get that second goal at this level otherwise you are inviting them onto you.

"But credit to them, they kept pushing and pushing and we have to hold our hands up and say they deserved an equaliser."

Gerrard added: "There is an element of frustration there but this result is not the end of the world. It is still in our hands.

"We are disappointed with periods of the game but we are also very happy with the first-half performance. If we can get that for 90 minutes, we believe we can still qualify.

"We will have to wait and see how the other teams do in their fixtures but we are more than capable of winning the last four matches."

Gerrard went close to winning the game for England in the closing stages with a volley and a free-kick.

He said: "I caught the volley too well. They are the ones you want to mis-hit because then they usually go in!"

Leading scorer Fletcher suffered ankle ligament damage on international duty with Scotland last week, and midfielder Cattermole underwent surgery on a persistent knee problem earlier on Wednesday.

A club statement said: "Cattermole underwent an operation on his knee earlier today and Fletcher sustained ankle ligament damage whilst on international duty with Scotland.

"It is not known at this stage if Fletcher will require an operation, with the injury requiring further assessment in the coming weeks.

"Both players will play no further part in the Black Cats' 2012-13 Barclays Premier League season."

The news could hardly have come at a worse time for O'Neill, whose side finds themselves firmly entrenched in a battle for top-flight survival with eight games of the campaign to play.

They face leaders Manchester United at the Stadium of Light on Saturday desperate to end a run of seven league games without a victory which has yielded just three points and left them only four clear of the drop zone.

Fletcher in particular will be a huge loss after paying off a large proportion of the ?12million the club invested in him during the summer with 11 goals.

However, having scored five in his first four games for the Black Cats, he has managed only one in his last seven, with the supply lines having dried up alarmingly.

The 26-year-old former Wolves frontman was injured just two minutes into Scotland's 2-1 home defeat by Wales in Friday night's World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park and was carried from the field on a stretcher.

If he does need surgery, player and manager alike will hope he can return in time for the start of the new campaign.

O'Neill at least has January signing Danny Graham, who has played alongside Fletcher in recent weeks, at his disposal.

Cattermole has been plagued by injuries for much of his time on Wearside and has managed only two senior appearances since the end of November.

He had an injection in his injured knee several weeks ago in a bid to solve the problem once and for all, although O'Neill admitted at the time that an operation was a possibility.

Having visited his specialist again, the decision was taken to perform the surgery and write off the rest of the campaign.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that David Miliband is to remain a member of the club's board despite stepping down as MP for South Shields.

The former Foreign Secretary has announced he is leaving UK politics to take up a post with the US-based charity the International Rescue Committee.

However, Mr Miliband, who joined the board as vice-chairman and non-executive director in 2011, will maintain his links with the club.

Chief executive Margaret Byrne told Sunderland's official website: "David's knowledge and experience have been a tremendous benefit to Sunderland AFC.

"Naturally we are delighted that he is to continue in his role at the club, and we also wish him every success with this new chapter of his life."

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