Wigan close in on Espinoza

Fulham defender Zdenek Grygera has retired from football,

manager Martin Jol has confirmed.

Grygera, who joined Fulham in 2011, did not have his contract

renewed at the end of the season after rupturing his anterior

cruciate ligament.

The 32-year-old, who has earned 65 international caps for the

Czech Republic, continued his rehabilitation in the hope of earning

a new deal but has now called time on his playing career.

“Grygera told me that he will quit,” said Jol.

“He will stay with us until the December 15. He is retiring as

it is now as he first wants to be healthy, sound and get back to

his fitness because he has a few problems with his hip and his

knee.

“He was probably never 100 per cent, not even 90 per cent, but

he is an unbelievable character.

“He started two weeks ago but then after 10 minutes had to quit

again so he made the decision to call it a day for now.

“If he feels fine in the summer, maybe he could start somewhere

in Austria or in his country, the Czech Republic.

“It is a shame and it was hard for him, but he was very

realistic and of course he was not under contract here because he

never played games.

“I feel for him because I think there was another two or three

years in him but it was his decision.

“He is retiring from Fulham and England. He wants to be fit and

doesn’t want to end up in a wheelchair. That is actually what he

said and I know what he means.”

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The Spaniard has been under fire since his controversial

appointment at Stamford Bridge last month, with his unpopularity

amongst fans in large part down to comments he made about the west

Londoners and their fans whilst Liverpool boss.

Benitez has hardly done much to inspire faith with two draws and

a defeat in his opening three Barclays Premier League games –

scoring just one goal in that time – to slip 10 points behind

leaders Manchester United.

There are already reports that owner Roman Abramovich is looking

to replace Benitez but Grant shot down rumours linking him with a

return to the club he guided to the Champions League final in 2008

and added the former Valencia boss needs to be fully supported by

the Blues.

“Nobody from Chelsea has offered me this job,” the Israeli told

BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I heard a rumour but I think this is not what’s important.

“What’s important is Chelsea have a manager and the club need to

support him and not look for any other things.”

When asked if he would consider working alongside Benitez, Grant

responded: “I don’t think it’s the right idea for the moment.

“I don’t like to speak about myself now because I have other

things to do at this stage.

“I think Benitez is a very experienced coach and manager and I

don’t think a few weeks after they give him the job he will leave

and I don’t think it will be right.

“He needs to use all experience to take the club in a different

direction and they need to do everything to support him and not to

look around.”

Benitez did at least claim his first victory with the Blues last

night although a 6-1 Champions League win over FC Nordsjaelland was

not enough to seal a passage to the knockout stages following

Juventus’ 1-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Chelsea instead became the first holders of the Champions League

crown to drop out of the tournament at the group stage.

Grant, who was last in charge of Partizan Belgrade, believes

Chelsea need to carry on winning in order to convince the club’s

supporters Benitez is the man for the job.

“Any winning is good and what Rafa needs is a good win and good

football really to convince the supporters that they need to

support him,” he added.

“But I think more than this the club needs to support him then

it will be easy for him because it’s not easy times for Chelsea,

first time out of the Champions League next stage and the gap

between them and the first place in the league, I think he needs it

and they need it.”

The 26-year-old Honduras international has long been linked with

a move to the DW Stadium and is set to swap Major League Soccer for

the Premier League when his MLS contract expires at the end of the

year.

Espinoza is a versatile player who can play in either defence or

midfield and he impressed at this summer’s Olympics with his

performance against Brazil in the quarter-finals.

Martinez said: “We’re working really hard to try to make it

happen and we’re looking forward to seeing if we can get that one

done successfully.

“There are a few steps: there is the work permit, there are

certain aspects we need to fulfil in the paperwork but Roger is a

player that we’ve been following for a long, long time.

“We’ve seen him enjoying his football in the Olympic Games

recently with Honduras, and in the World Cup as well he’s been an

important part of that group of players with (Wigan defender)

Maynor Figueroa. He would be a real asset for us.

“But until January 1 we can’t do anymore than wait and make sure

we prepare ourselves for the steps we’ve got ahead to make him a

Wigan Athletic player.”