Baker: Villa showing maturity

Juventus striker Nicklas Bendtner has undergone successful
surgery on a thigh injury, the Serie A club have confirmed.

The on-loan Arsenal forward was treated in London by Arsenal
consultant Ernest Schilders after suffering the injury in last
week’s Coppa Italia meeting with Cagliari.

A statement on Juve’s official website confirmed that the
24-year-old has had the adductor longus tendon in his left thigh
reinserted, with his prognosis and rehabilitation schedule to be
verified with English doctors over the next few days.

Bendtner, who is likely to miss at least two months, has been a
peripheral figure since joining the Italian champions on a
season-long loan this summer.

Williams is aware of the threat posed by Van Persie, but he
believes Swansea have a plan to keep the Dutchman quiet on
Sunday.

Wales captain Williams, who was named man of the match in last
Sunday’s defeat against Tottenham, is relishing the challenge of
pitting his wits against Van Persie and feels the key to stopping
him is to cut off his supply line.

“Van Persie’s on fire at the minute and playing with a lot of
confidence so we just have to work to stop him and stop the service
into him,” Williams told the Daily Express.

“There’s no doubt he’s going to get a couple of chances, that’s
just the way it goes against a quality team, but we have to
dominate possession and starve them.

“He’s one of the best strikers in the Premier League if not the
best. Technically he’s very good and you can all see his
goalscoring abilities.

“He’s a complete player and was one of the best I played against
last season. You watch Manchester United so many times so you know
what they’re all about. But trying to stop them is a different
thing altogether.”

United did the double over Swansea last season and Williams
feels they showed too much respect to Sir Alex Ferguson’s side last
term at the Liberty Stadium when they lost 1-0.

However, Williams has promised things will be different this
time and that Swansea will show no fear against the current Premier
League leaders.

“It is true that we showed United too much respect last season.
We sat back too much in that first half and then got at them,”
added Williams.

“We deserved a draw at least. Scott Sinclair missed a chance, an
open goal, and they had one chance.

“But this season we’ve got a lot more belief. We don’t fear
anyone. We’re at home and we’ve lost two on the bounce so it would
be great going into Christmas to get a positive result.”

Messi’s current deal runs until June 2016 and the new agreement
will keep him at the Nou Camp beyond his 31st birthday.

The forward has enjoyed an extraordinary year, even by his own
remarkable standards, netting his 89th and 90th goals of 2012 at
the weekend.

The 25-year-old had already surpassed Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old
record of 85 goals in a calendar year.

He is also in contention to claim a fourth successive FIFA
Ballon d’Or crown, being named on a three-man shortlist alongside
Cristiano Ronaldo and team-mate Andres Iniesta.

The Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) has become
increasingly vocal in wanting to bring back elements of terracing
with the Premier League champions, West Ham and Aston Villa all
behind the move.

A club spokesman said: “Manchester City Football Club is
supportive of initiatives to enhance – safely – our fans’ match-day
experience, if supported by the appropriate football
authorities.”

The FSF’s Safe Standing Campaign is supported by clubs of all
divisions including Brentford, Bristol City, Burnley, Cardiff City,
Crystal Palace, Derby County, Doncaster Rovers, Hull City,
Peterborough United, Watford, AFC Wimbledon, the Scottish Premier
League, the Safe Standing Roadshow and Stand Up Sit Down.

They are calling for the introduction of a pilot of ‘railed
seats’ – new standing technology which are used in Germany. They
are metal seats that can be folded up to create wider
clearways.

Aston Villa and Peterborough United have already given the nod
to a small scale trial of the technology.

However, the call for terracing was recently lambasted by the
Hillsborough Family Support Group set up after the death of 96
people at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium in April
1989.

Chairwoman Margaret Aspinall said: “There are 96 reasons why it
should not be allowed. Standing should never, ever come back. I do
not think there is anything safe about standing.

“I feel insulted that while people are trying to fight for
justice for Hillsborough, that this campaign is growing now.”

The 24-year-old has had to watch the Hammers’ fine start to life
back in the top flight from the sidelines due to a long-standing
knee problem.

Collison, who last featured for first team as they overcame
Blackpool at Wembley back in May, stepped up his recovery from
injury with the West Ham development squad at Norwich on
Monday.

The Wales international came through 45 minutes of the 3-1
Under-21 Premier League defeat and could not hide his delight at
returning.

“It was great to be back out there again,” Collison told the
club’s official website. “I am obviously a little bit rusty, but I
have ticked a box by completing 45 minutes and hopefully it will be
onwards and upwards from there.

“I loved it. It was great to be playing football again, even
though it was not the best conditions out there. I thought the boys
did well and were unlucky to not to get a point out of it.”

Collison’s return is a welcome boost to injury-hit West Ham, who
are without the likes of Mohamed Diame, Ricardo Vaz Te and Yossi
Benayoun.

He will not, though, pinpoint a date for his first-team return,
focusing instead on continuing his rehabilitation.

“I will leave that for the manager to decide,” Collison said. “I
have obviously been out for quite a while so for me it is all about
building up my fitness and getting that sharpness back.

“I am not sure whether the reserves will have any more games or
have arranged any friendlies [before the Elite Group Stage starts
in January] but I will be training more now so hopefully I can
return as quickly as possible.”

Villa are unbeaten since being forced into the tactical switch
four games ago after Ron Vlaar sustained a calf injury in
November’s draw with Arsenal.

Since that time, 21-year-old defender Baker, 23-year-old Ciaran
Clark and Chris Herd, also 23, have lined up together at the back
and have overseen wins at Anfield in a 3-1 win over Liverpool, and
at Carrow Road in a 4-1 victory against Norwich.

Baker said: “It’s been good. There’s a bit more security with
three at the back. We are young lads who are still learning the
game, but because we know each other well having grown up in the
academy, we are quite familiar with each other’s game so already
have an understanding.

“At the moment, it is a system that seems to be working for us
and, as long as we keep getting results, it probably makes sense to
stick with it.

“It has definitely been a bit of a coming-of-age week for us,
reaching the cup semi-final and then beating Liverpool. A lot of
young lads have won the reserve league so hopefully we can do it
with the first team now.”

Villa will learn their Capital One Cup fate in Wednesday’s draw
before facing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on
Sunday.