Injury may end Ryo’s season

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

view.

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

disagreed.

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

side netting.

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

administration.

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

sell it.

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

see that.

“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

Germany.

“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

prospect.

“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

years.

“Small-sided games take you back to the bones of what we did,”

he said.

“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

season.”

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.”