Laudrup admits Williams fears

John Arne Riise wants Fulham to take advantage of Tottenham

Hotspur’s hectic schedule when Martin Jol returns to his former

club on Sunday.

The Cottagers have not been in competitive action since the 2-2

draw at Sunderland on March 2 after being knocked out of the FA

Cup.

Tottenham, in contrast, will have played three additional

fixtures by the time they face Fulham and Riise is hopeful that

Spurs’ busy run can work in their favour.

“It’s one of the toughest matches because of the way they play

and they’re in good shape,” Riise told Fulham’ official

website.

“But they have a heavy schedule right now as they’re playing in

the Europa League so hopefully they’ll be a bit tired.”

The Norway full-back is not expecting an easy afternoon across

London and added: “They still have one of the best players in the

league at the moment in Gareth Bale.

“He can’t stop scoring and he’s a fantastic person as well.

They’ve got Aaron Lennon on the other side too and good players all

over the pitch.

“It will be nice to see Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey again

but it will be a very tough game for us. That’s the type of game

we’ll go into to try and get at least a point.”

The fixture also represents the chance for Fulham to make amends

after the 3-0 home defeat to their London rivals at Craven Cottage

earlier this term.

“We should have won that game but somehow lost,” said Riise.

“But every game has its own life and, as I said, they have a

busy schedule, whereas we’ll have had a free weekend.

“We’ll train well and prepare our best for it and we look

forward to it. It’s a derby and anything can happen.”

The country’s 32 lower-league clubs are currently mulling over

plans to reorganise Scottish football under one league body.

Among the proposals are blueprints for a 12-team top division

and similarly-sized Championship second tier that would merge into

three groups of eight after 22 games in order to decide the major

issues – the title, European qualification and relegation out of

the top flight.

But the sticking point for some of the nation’s smallest clubs

is whether to proceed with an 18-team third division or persist

with the current Second and Third Divisions comprising 10 teams

each.

The first option, however, means runaway Irn-Bru Third Division

leaders Rangers would remain trapped in the basement of Scottish

football for another year and that has sparked outrage among their

fans.

Now Rangers Supporters Assembly chief Andy Kerr claims the

Glasgow giants’ fanbase will look to take revenge if the 18-team

bottom tier is voted in.

He told the Scottish Sun: “The only thing that is pushing this

is short-sighted finance. The top 12 clubs are happy because

nothing is changing.

“The teams below them are happy because they are getting a

bigger share, while those 17 clubs left along with Rangers are

happy. They are rubbing their hands at the thought of the gate

money.

“While we want to support our team, serious questions would have

to be asked. I think there’s a huge risk Rangers fans will simply

say, ‘enough is enough’.

“We are trying to work our way back while others are attempting

to hold us back and drag us down. I don’t believe our fans would

stand for it, and nor should they.

“It’s been an adventure this year. But the thought of having to

go through all that again, having won the league and not been

promoted, would have a very negative affect among our

supporters.”

The Portuguese winger was given the nod to start last week’s

crucial UEFA Champions League showdown against Real Madrid but was

controversially sent off as United bowed out of the

competition.

Nani, who has just a year left on his contract at Old Trafford,

thinks he is hitting form just in time for the run-in and is keen

to repay Sir Alex Ferguson for showing faith in him.

“I feel I’m in good form and I’ve nearly arrived at my peak,” he

said in the Daily Star.

“I think over the next few games I can surprise a few people. I

want to show the manager that he can trust me and he can believe in

me in every match.

“My confidence is high and I think the best is still to come

from me.

“This is my time – and I think I can be important for the team

in these big games.

“Because I was injured for two months, it means I’m fresh now

when some other players are starting to get tired.

“I want to show him my contribution can help win games, so I’ll

keep working hard to make sure I’m ready every time I get a

chance.”

Arsenal are thought to be weighing up a summer swoop for

Williams, while Liverpool have been long-term admirers of the

talented central defender.

Williams has been one of Swansea’s star performers this season

and he has established himself as one of the best centre-backs in

the Premier League over the last 18 months.

Laudrup believes the transfer speculation is a compliment to how

well Williams has done for Swansea.

“When there are rumours about these clubs wanting someone from

here it is because the player has done well – and Ashley has,”

Laudrup told the Daily Mirror.

“What else can I do? I can’t call Arsenal and say ‘Is it true?’

– and I don’t think Arsene Wenger would answer anyway, he has other

things to think about. It is just part of the game.

“We will have to cope with these stories and remember it means

people have seen what we have done here and what the players have

done.

“He and Chico [Flores, his fellow centre-half] have been a great

pair. They are doing great together and I will be unhappy to lose

that pairing for next season.”