Jol hints at interest in Hughes
Alessandro Del Piero is in no rush to finalise his Sydney FC
future as he pours all his energy into helping resurrect the team’s
dismal A-League season.
Del Piero’s stay in the harbour city beyond this term is still
unclear, with the Sky Blues yet to decide whether they will take up
the option of a second year for the 38-year-old striker.
The former Italy international has been a shining light in what
has been a poor campaign for the two-time champions, who are bottom
of the standings with just three wins from 12 games.
Del Piero is loving life in Sydney, but wants to put contract
talks aside to focus on hauling the team up the table.
“I have spent a really good time here,” the 2006 World Cup
“We have time to discuss that but at the moment the best thing
for me, the club, the players and everyone is to concentrate on the
“We have to worry about this next period because it’s very
difficult for us and we have to put all our energy, mental and
physical, into it.
“I’m not worried about other things. I’m really enjoying it…
but now have to win a couple more games for more enjoyment.”
Asked when he hoped to have his future resolved, Del Piero said:
“Everything is clear for me and the club.
“We can do it earlier than what we think, but the contract is
not a stress for me.
“I’m really happy to be here. I want to put all my knowledge and
heart into this at the moment and not to talk about (a new
The Sky Blues are six points adrift of the finals spots ahead of
a tough three-game stretch which starts against league leaders
Central Coast at Allianz Stadium on Thursday.
Tough away trips against Adelaide and Perth all follow within 10
days in a period that is likely to define the club’s season.
Benteke struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League when he
arrived from Genk for ?7million this August, but the Belgian has
been on a hot streak of form recently to take his season tally to
Vertonghen knows Benteke well from their time together with a
Belgium side littered with individual brilliance, and he knows he
will have to be at his best to keep the towering striker quiet.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he has done well,” Vertonghen
“He now feels the confidence of the team, the crowd and the
“You could see that in the last two games for the national team
(when Benteke scored in wins over Serbia and Scotland). He was very
good then and I think that Aston Villa made the right choice to
“He is very good in the air and he can score. He will be a very
tough player to play against.”
Vertonghen may not be pitted in to direct combat against his
compatriot, however, as he could once again be deployed at
left-back, where he has played since Benoit Assou-Ekotto suffered a
knee injury in September.
With Assou-Ekotto nearing full fitness, Vertonghen hopes to move
back to his favoured position of centre-half.
When asked whether he found it frustrating playing at full-back,
the 25-year-old said: “Yes, and the manager knows.
“I prefer centre-back but I want to help the team.
“It would be good to have Benoit back but not only for that
reason as he is one of the best left-backs in the league.”
Villas-Boas, whose team dropped to sixth in the Premier League
on Saturday with a 0-0 draw against Stoke, will also be without
Clint Dempsey for this evening’s game as he has a groin strain.
Villa’s 8-0 defeat at Chelsea led to renewed fear among the
Villa Park faithful that their team could be destined for
relegation this term.
Villa sit just three points above the relegation zone, but Spurs
right-back Kyle Walker, who spent half a season on loan at Villa
Park two seasons ago, thinks they will survive.
“I think they will be all right,” the 22-year-old told Spurs TV
“I think they have proved that they can dig in at home.
“I watched them against Manchester United (when Villa
surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 3-2).
“The result didn’t go their way but they are young, energetic
and hungry to win games.”
The 17-year-old’s impressive displays in the Championship has
seen him called up to the England Under-21s squad and linked to a
move away from Pride Park.
Arsenal, Liverpool and even Barcelona have been mentioned as
potential suitors and Jol has now confirmed Hughes is being
monitored by Fulham.
“Believe me, there is probably 10 clubs in the Premier League
having a look at him,” the Dutchman said.
“He is one of these wonderful talents so he is always on lists.
If you have a good scouting system, he will always be on the list
but we will see.”
Fulham have been left short in central midfield following the
summer departures of Mousa Dembele, Danny Murphy and Dickson
With Mahamadou Diarra soon to head off to the African Nations
Cup with Mali, there have also been suggestions Fulham could move
for Inter Milan’s McDonald Mariga.
“I could easily say I don’t know him but he is the brother of
the Celtic boy [Victor Wanyama]” Jol said.
“He is an interesting player but I have to be honest and say
we’re not looking at him. We did a couple of years ago.”
Meanwhile, is is understood Fulham are closing in on Standard
Liege goalkeeper Sinan Bolat.
The Turkey international has been training with the Cottagers
for the past month as he completes his recovery from long-term
Bolat’s potential arrival raises questions over the future of
40-year-old Mark Schwarzer and deputy David Stockdale.
Schwarzer’s current deal runs out at the end of the season,
while the latter recently spent a spell on loan at Championship