Forster: We’ll keep on going
Millwall won 1-0 at Blackburn on Wednesday night to set up an FA
Cup semi-final against Wigan at Wembley next month.
Captain Danny Shittu headed home Chris Taylor’s corner in the
42nd minute of the sixth-round replay at Ewood Park, and it proved
enough to take the Lions – runners-up in 2004 – through to the last
four on the weekend of 13/14 April.
As in Sunday’s meeting at The Den at the weekend, Blackburn
sorely lacked creativity and ?11million strike force Jordan Rhodes
and Leon Best drew a blank once more, although the latter had a
second-half shot superbly cleared off the line by Shane Lowry.
Millwall now face a rematch of their 1999 Wembley defeat to
Wigan in the Football League Trophy final, while results on
Saturday could send Rovers into Sunday’s east Lancashire derby
against Burnley just three points above the relegation zone – an
unthinkable second-consecutive relegation hovering ominously into
Blackburn started brightly and, having failed to register a shot
on target at the weekend, they tested Lions goalkeeper David Forde
through Best’s speculative fourth-minute drive.
The Republic of Ireland international had a left-footed effort
deflected behind in the 15th minute and, from the resulting corner,
club stalwarts Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn combined for
the latter to arch a shoot past the far post from 18 yards.
Moments later, Millwall attacked and Danny N’Guessan felt he was
impeded in the area by Rovers skipper Scott Dann when trying to
reach Andy Keogh’s cross, but referee Mark Clattenburg
In the 20th minute, Blackburn goalkeeper Jake Kean created
danger all of his own making by leaving himself stranded en route
to claiming a long Lowry free-kick that Rob Hulse glanced wide.
N’Guessan twice had shots blocked by Jason Lowe as Rovers failed
to clear a corner before Taylor’s deflected shot crashed into the
The former Oldham midfielder delivered the next set-piece and
Shittu was allowed room to power home from close range.
In the second half, Lowry produced a telling block when Josh
King volleyed goalwards after Dann headed Pedersen’s 49th-minute
corner across goal.
Pedersen wasted a promising free-kick position as frustrations
among the home faithful audibly grew, but Best brought them to
their feet in the 63rd minute, drifting through a static Millwall
backline to see the sliding Lowry clear his from the goalmouth.
However, Rovers’ challenge faded badly. Mark Beevers blocked a
Nuno Gomes strike in the final minute before Taylor blazed
wastefully over when trying to add late gloss to the scoreline.
Arena Coventry Limited (ACL) has announced it has made an
application to the High Court in London to request that it make an
administration order against the club.
The Sky Blues’ owner, the hedge fund Sisu, is disputing the
terms of the lease but the League One club would face a 10-point
deduction by the Football League if they are placed into
ACL is the Coventry City Council and Higgs Charity-owned company
that runs the Ricoh Arena stadium and its chairman Nicholas Carter
said: “It is highly unfortunate that we have had to take this
course of legal action. Had we not taken this action, then the
alternative might have been catastrophic for CCFC.
“We are owed a considerable amount of money in rent arrears.
While it is imperative that ACL takes action to recover these
arrears and to stop the arrears growing, it is important for us to
find a solution that can provide for the survival of the Sky Blues.
Hopefully this action will ultimately put CCFC on a stable
financial footing for the future.
“Following recent statements in the media from the CCFC’s owners
threatening the Club with liquidation, we are keen to stop this
from happening. Our action prevents Sisu simply closing CCFC and
walking away from the situation.
“We are, of course, well aware that under the current Football
League regulations, CCFC will face a points deduction and we will
do everything we can to ensure that the case is heard by the High
Court before the end of the current season. While this opens up the
possibility of a 10-point deduction this season, the board believes
this is better than leaving CCFC facing a much larger deduction at
the start of next season.”
In the next few weeks, the High Court will decide whether the
club is fit to continue trading. If it decides it is not, it will
be placed into administration and an administrator appointed to
Hurst is best known for scoring the hat-trick that secured
England their lone World Cup title at Wembley in 1966.
But almost half a century later he has committed himself to
working at grassroots level to provide a platform for the next
generation of players and coaches in this country.
England’s bid to bridge the divide on its major rivals has been
a key focus of the Football Association in recent years with the
opening of the state-of-the-art St George’s Park training base in
Burton ensuring a level footing at the elite level.
But Hurst, who has been working as McDonald’s Director of
Football in association with the FA for a decade, believes it is on
the local parks where the biggest ground can be made up.
The sum of his work was spelled out in a report launched in
front of Minister’s of Parliament at the House of Commons on
Wednesday, which revealed the grassroots game in the United Kingdom
had “undergone a major transformation” in the past decade.
Amongst the figures released it was revealed 74 per cent of
children’s and youth FA Charter Standard clubs now have least one
qualified coach while participation rates in girls’ football had
hit a high.
They are numbers to enthuse Hurst who, while admitting there is
still work to be done, believes England’s malaise on the world
stage can be drawn back to more modest levels.
“We’re not producing players and coaches,” said Hurst.
“You only have to look at the Premier League where there is a
dearth of players playing which is a problem for England. We don’t
have as many to choose from.
“We need some more. We are 10 years behind everyone else.
“We hope St George’s Park is going to develop the quality we
want. Maybe in 10 years’ time we will we be able to look back and
“But we need to be providing a stage for young players to come
into the game and then, when they are playing, enjoying and
learning from qualified coaches.
“You take the grassroots coaches away and you are going to have
nothing. It’s such an important issue.
“We are certainly behind places like Spain in terms of the
numbers of players and the development. It’s the same with
“But you can see us catching up. We are doing that.”
Hurst believes previous systems have short-circuited England’s
efforts to produce the type and number of world-class players that
he played alongside in 1966.
“We won the World Cup with four or five world-class players,
that’s how you are successful,” he said.
“I don’t think today we’ve got as many world-class players in
these key positions now.
“There has been a lot of focus on Wayne Rooney in the past and
coming through you look at Jack Wilshere who is a great
“But you worry about him with another injury. That’s why we talk
about the number of top-class players.
“We need two Jack Wilshere’s because if one gets injured we have
someone to take his place.
“A classic example is Jimmy Greaves. He was a world-class
player, he got injured and I came in and take his place.
“I did all right. Not too bad so I heard.”
When Hurst was growing up he did not play an organised match
until he was 11, instead learning the game on the streets outside
his Chelmsford home.
The 71-year-old knows those days are long gone, but believes a
move toward small-sided pitches can help modern-day children to
replicate the skills he learned on kerbsides in his formative
“Small-sided games take you back to the bones of what we did,”
“In the streets, the playground or with a tennis ball. We played
in the playground with bomb shelters for goalposts.
“The backbone of our team in ’66 – it was that way of playing,
that simple system produced world-class players.
“Kids aren’t going to play on the street now. We can get close
as we can to doing that with these small-sided games.
“And if we can provide the coaches with the intelligence and
education – to not over coach enjoy it – we can go far.
“My old coach Ron Greenwood, who knew a thing or two, at West
Ham had a saying: ‘Simplicity is genius’.
“Everything was simple. That’s the way to do it.”
The Japan international was carried off on a stretcher after
being hurt in a challenge from Kevin Mirallas in Latics’ stunning
3-0 FA Cup quarter-final win at Everton last weekend.
It is yet another setback for the 20-year-old, who has made just
seven appearances for the club since joining on loan from Arsenal
due to injuries.
Manager Roberto Martinez told the club’s website: “It was a
terrible challenge. We are waiting on the scan but we are not very
positive on it.
“We think it will need a long recovery period and maybe he will
even need surgery.
“We need to be a little bit expecting the bad news.
“He is very fortunate he has not got a broken leg because of the
nature of the challenge.
“We feel he ruptured the ligaments. We will have to wait and see
but he doesn’t seem to have an opportunity to finish the
Martinez delivered a more positive update on Callum McManaman,
who was one of the stars of Wigan’s first-half display at Goodison
Park but limped off soon after scoring the second goal.
Martinez said: “Callum McManaman is recovering well and probably
it is more a matter of a week – five days to 10 days – that he is
going to be out.
“We will see how he recovers day by day. The ankle is swollen
but it is more of a normal injury.”
Spurs have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Europa League
after Bale inspired the team to a 3-0 victory in the first leg of
their last-16 tie last week.
Despite the drubbing, Inter are expected to rest a number of
their top players for the clash at the San Siro as their priority
is to qualify for the Champions League via Serie A, where they
currently sit in joint fifth position after a disappointing loss
against Bologna at the weekend.
Although Tottenham lost ground in their own hunt for Champions
League qualification on Sunday when they lost to Liverpool,
Villas-Boas is determined to land the Europa League trophy and will
therefore resist the temptation to rest the likes of Aaron Lennon,
Mousa Dembele and Jermain Defoe.
“No chance,” the Tottenham manager said when asked if was
considering fielding a weakened team.
“There is no scoreline that could make us change six or seven
players so we will play a strong team to make sure we go through in
“We take this game very seriously.”
One star man Villas-Boas has no other option than to do without
is Bale, who received a one-match suspension for his third caution
of the competition last week.
The Welshman announced himself on the world stage here at the
San Siro in 2010 with a superb hat-trick against Inter, and he has
since gone on to become one the most devastating forwards in
The 23-year-old has bagged 21 goals for Tottenham this season –
leading to claims that Spurs are overly-reliant on the pacy
Tottenham have dropped seven points from the eight games Bale
has not played in this season, and Villas-Boas is confident that
Spurs will be fine without their talisman on Thursday night.
“We’ve been in situation where he is not with us and we got
results,” the 35-year-old said.
“Gareth can make a difference in any game, we know. We will miss
him but we won’t want to prove anything without him because we
believe a lot in ourselves and also we believe in Gareth. It’s not
a case of proving anything. We just want to do our job to get
Making the last eight of the competition at the expense of a
club who have won three Champions Leagues and 18 Serie A titles
would reaffirm Tottenham’s position as favourites to reach the
final and lift the trophy in Amsterdam on May 15.
“We had very difficult draws for the last 32 and last 16 in Lyon
and Inter Milan. They are two teams used to playing Champions
League football and who are full of European experience,”
“It’s been a brilliant experience so far and it shows the route
we’ve chosen to take, by playing it seriously, has paid off in
terms of these fixtures, which has been amazing.
“Hopefully if we can manage to overcome Inter we can put
ourselves in a strong position (to win it), although we admit there
are still some very strong teams in the mix.”
Villas-Boas confirmed Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor have
travelled to Milan after they overcame the respective hamstring and
knee injuries that ruled them out of the Liverpool game.
The Spurs boss will start Brad Friedel in goal ahead of Hugo
Lloris, and the former Blackburn stopper has warned his team-mates
they must not think they have already won the tie when the step out
on the famous turf of the Giuseppe Meazza stadium on Thursday.
“We will play it like it’s 0-0,” the 41-year-old said.
“It’s a difficult place to play so we will have to be at our
best. “You have to take the 3-0 out of your mind.”
Milan police, meanwhile, have imposed an alcohol ban in certain
areas of the city from 7pm local time until midnight on
Those areas are: around the San Siro, the Duomo (main square),
the main train station, and Linate airport.
Steaua, who are 12 points clear in the Romanian league, hold a
1-0 advantage over last season’s Champions League winners in the
last-16 tie following their victory in Bucharest last week.
Due to his prior association with Liverpool, Benitez has been
booed throughout his tenure as interim manager at Stamford Bridge
and the visitors hope to score early and use any negative
atmosphere to their advantage.
“We are well aware that the supporters, the crowd has a very big
role, a very important role, especially if we were to go ahead
early,” Steaua boss Laurentiu Reghencampf said.
“That would not create a great atmosphere for the home team. We
will try to score early and play well.”
Steaua, who beat Ajax in the previous round after overturning a
first-leg deficit, are unfazed by the challenge that awaits in west
Defender Mihai Pintilii said: “They are a very good side. They
have some great individual players and extraordinary talent in
“Tomorrow night we will be trying to annihilate them and to just
play the way we can play.”
Due to a knee injury, Steaua may have to do without Iasmin
Latovlevici, the left-back Benitez highlighted as a danger on the
eve of the first leg and who delivered the cross which led to Raul
Rusescu’s successful penalty.
Steaua will still go on the attack despite the potential absence
of one of their most impressive players.
“As always we will be trying to win the game,” Reghencampf
“Of course it will be very difficult but I have a team that
really likes to play football.
“It is a very important match for everybody. Not only myself.
It’s very important for my team and also Romanian football.”
Benitez earlier expressed confidence in Chelsea progressing and
revealed that his side had not practised penalty kicks. Steaua
have, are undeterred by tackling the Blues and are focused on
“Chelsea are the strongest team we have met so far and I’m sure
we will have some difficulties,” Reghencampf added.
“We have practised penalties. We will see tomorrow evening.
“If I’m afraid of anything or if I’m concerned about anything
then it’s my own team.
“We had a not so pleasant game in Amsterdam, where we were not
able to play the way we would like to. “Now my main concern is to
try to get my players ready to play the way we would like to.”
A repeat of the performances in the first leg will be enough for
He said: “We played very well and won the game. Tomorrow night
“If they play the way they played in the first leg and we can
play the way we played in the first leg, we can of course win
Celtic have lost to Motherwell and Ross County but still lead
the way by 15 points ahead of the visit of Aberdeen on
Manager Neil Lennon questioned whether some players were
thinking more of a summer move than the task in hand when they
threw away a two-goal lead in Dingwall on Saturday.
But Forster is confident they will get back on track against the
Dons as they look to secure the title win and prepare for their
William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Dundee United on April
“We want to wrap the league up as quickly as possible so we’re
all 100 per cent focused on the job,” he told the Celtic View.
“We can’t be complacent, though. We have to go out and keep
trying – a lot hasn’t changed in the league, we still have to go
out and perform well.
“A few times we’ve had a gap at the top of the table and it
hasn’t meant we’ve dipped in form so hopefully that doesn’t start
“We all want to win the Scottish Cup, especially after the
disappointment of losing the League Cup semi-final, so it’s vital
we get to the final this time.
“It’s important we’re fully focused because we know it will be a
tough game against Dundee United when it comes around.
“We’re going for the double so we’re still very motivated.”