Brighton bring in young Latvian

Portsmouth have confirmed the club will start training at

Fratton Park in February as administrators continue to cut

costs.

Pompey have been training at the Wellington Sports Ground for 11

years, but the stricken club can no longer afford to rent the

facility.

The League One strugglers have been in serious financial trouble

after going into administration twice since 2010.

Portsmouth are also looking at other sites in the city in a bid

to ease the burden on their home ground.

A statement from the club read: “Portsmouth Football Club will

stop using the training facilities at the Wellington Sports Ground

in Eastleigh at the end of the month.

“Going forward, the club will use Fratton Park and will also

look to use other facilities in the city.”

The Gunners head to Swansea on Sunday for their FA Cup

third-round tie looking to keep alive hopes of delivering a first

piece of silverware to the Emirates Stadium.

While Wenger knows the importance of continued Champions League

qualification, the French coach insists he has not lost the taste

for an open-top bus parade.

“Of course it bothers me because I am not here to watch other

people win trophies,” said Wenger, whose side last tasted glory

when they lifted the FA Cup in 2005.

“It is important and I will give my best to win on Sunday. I

will just remind you that I have won the FA Cup four times.

“Of course that [reminders of a trophy drought] is not pleasant,

but the only way to do it is to win.”

Wenger, however, accepts any talk of Wembley would be premature,

even if his side progress from what is a tough encounter in south

Wales.

“It is the first round (we play). You cannot speak about winning

a trophy, so for us it is important to show continuity and

consistency, and the FA Cup is part of that,” said Wenger.

“To get people to believe more in the team, it is important that

we win on Sunday.

“It is an important moment of the season for us, for the team to

strengthen the confidence of the team.

“We feel we are on a good run, but how far can we go? To win in

the FA Cup will strengthen [our belief].”

Arsenal have produced some form in the Premier League over the

past few weeks, their 1-1 draw at Southampton halting a run of four

straight wins.

Swansea, though, were the last team to record a victory at

Ashburton Grove, when they ran out 2-0 winners on December 1

following a late brace by Spanish striker Michu.

Wenger challenged his side to set the record straight when they

travel to Liberty Stadium.

“They had a very good game here. We have to give them a

different response on Sunday,” Wenger said.

The Gunners are expected to make some moves to bolster the squad

this month, with a ?10million bid for Atletico Madrid striker

Adrian Lopez said to be on the table, while fringe players like

Johan Djourou and Sebastien Squillaci will be off-loaded. Morocco

forward Marouane Chamakh has already joined West Ham on loan until

the end of the season.

However, Wenger wants concentration to remain on the side

producing the required performance against Swansea rather than

thinking about how to boost any perceived deficiencies.

“The most draining is that you get the best out of your team and

worry about the next game. In our job it is important that you

focus on what is really important, the players who can help the

club to win the games – those who are somewhere on the transfer

market will not help you to win the games,” Wenger told a press

conference.

“For us it is important to focus on our next game and our next

game can only be won by the players who are here.”

Mancini is prepared to give Balotelli “another 100 chances”

after playing down this week’s confrontation between the pair on

the training ground.

Mancini was photographed grappling with his fellow Italian in a

training-ground bust-up on Thursday, the latest in a long line of

controversies involving the 22-year-old forward.

The manager insists the matter was soon over and was blown out

of proportion because of the player involved and the pictures made

the incident look bad.

On Friday, Mancini said: “I don’t always forgive him. Sometimes

he was out for three or four weeks.

“I hope he can understand. Yesterday was nothing, compared to

what he did other times – nothing. It is finished.”

The latest headline-grabbing Balotelli moment came just over a

fortnight after he dropped his challenge to a Premier League

tribunal over a club fine at the 11th hour.

There had been speculation since then that Balotelli, who has

not played since December 9 due first to selection decisions and

then a virus, could be sold during this month’s transfer

window.

That has been dismissed by Mancini, who remains determined to

coax the best out of his former Inter Milan protege.

He said: “I will give him another 100 chances, if it is

possible, if I think he can change. I am here for this.

“Sometimes I am upset with him because he doesn’t do everything

for this, but I give him another chance, sure.

“This doesn’t change anything, this is something that can

happen.”

It has been suggested that the recurring issues surrounding

Balotelli both on and off the field are damaging to City’s

reputation but Mancini is confident his stance is backed by the

club’s hierarchy.

Mancini said: “They always support me and the team. I think they

are like me, they hope that every day Mario can change and think

only to play, think about his job.”

Despite his regular backing for Balotelli, Mancini has

frequently urged the player to reform his ways and voiced fears his

talent could be wasted if he does not.

He said: “I think he should understand the career of players is

very short.

“He is 22 – three, four or five years can pass in one

second.

“I hope that the days arrives that he can understand that he

can’t leave his quality like this.

“I hope for him – also if he did a lot of mistakes – he can

change.”

Balotelli, who joined City for ?24million from Inter in 2010,

has previously clashed on the training ground with team-mates Micah

Richards, Vincent Kompany and Jerome Boateng.

All were captured by photographers because City’s Carrington

training base is surrounded by public footpaths and the fences

erected for privacy cannot be made higher due to planning

regulations.

The latest flashpoint occurred when Balotelli made a bad tackle

on Scott Sinclair in a training match and Mancini ordered him off.

Mancini grabbed Balotelli after he refused to leave but incident

was quickly dealt with.

Mancini said: “It (the tackle) was two red cards probably, if

the referee was there.

“I wanted him to leave the pitch and Mario said, ‘No, I don’t

want to leave’. But it is finished now.

“The problem we have on that pitch is that we don’t have a

screen. We are happy for the paparazzi to get money for this!

“These things can happen at every club and every team. The other

teams have screens around their pitch and we don’t have a

screen.”

When asked how these issues might affect other players in the

squad, Mancini said: “I don’t know this.

“What I hope every day is that he changes his mind and thinks

about his job and his life.”

Albion have persuaded the versatile 22-year-old to move to the

Amex Stadium despite interest from a number of Premier League and

Championship clubs in recent months.

Brighton manager Gus Poyet has sealed a deal for the player

after he impressed during a training spell with the Seagulls late

last year.

But the Albion boss has indicated Maksimenko is a long-term

prospect, and unlikely to feature in the coming weeks for the

club.

Poyet said: “We have been aware of him for a while. He can bring

more quality to our first-team in the future.

“He has quality on the ball. He’ll train with the development

squad to learn the way we play. Then it’s up to him.”