SL: Problems won't affect Jambos

BY foxsports • December 15, 2012

Manchester United striker Federico Macheda will not be joining Blackpool or Hull City in January and is instead likely to make a loan move to Spain or Germany.

The 21-year-old has made just three substitute appearances in all competitions this season amid the strong attacking options from which boss Sir Alex Ferguson can select.

United have preferred to use Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez which has meant Macheda is likely to leave on another temporary deal.

Blackpool and Hull have both been linked with the former Sampdoria and Queens Park Rangers loanee but his agent has revealed Germany or Spain are more likely destinations.

Macheda's representative, Giovanni Bia, told claciomercato.it: "Federico obviously wants to play more and also Manchester United agree to let him go.

"Blackpool and Hull City? No, he definitely won't go to one of them. We're talking with two or three clubs in Spain and German, which I don't want to name."

The Highlanders had failed to win any of their first seven Clydesdale Bank Premier League games and were languishing second-bottom when Dundee United visited Tulloch Caledonian Stadium at the end of September.

A shock 4-0 win for the home side, thanks to a first-half double by skipper Richie Foran and goals after the break by Andrew Shinnie and Philip Roberts, stopped the rot.

Inverness have since lost only one game in 16 and, as well as climbing to second in the SPL behind Celtic, have booked a Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final clash against Hearts and reached the latter stages of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

Butcher recalls the day when his side's fortunes turned.

He said: "Dundee United started off the game pretty well and for the first half an hour it was nip and tuck and then all of a sudden Richie scored two goals that have us a good half-time lead and we were able to build on that in the second half and run out 4-0 winners.

"We actually played well in the first seven games and had five points but hadn't had a win.

"We played well in some of those draws and were unlucky not to get the first victory but when the first win did come against United it certainly lifted everybody.

"It made everybody more confident, we had more belief and we knew that we were on the right track.

"We had a couple of wins right away after that and we zoomed up the table and we haven't looked back since then.

"So it might have been the turning point, the spark that we needed, but it was certainly welcome.

"It is nice to be able to play them again and it does whet the appetite."

Butcher, who has no fresh injuries following the win over the Staggies, is looking to give his far-travelled fans more to cheer about with another win.

The former Motherwell boss said: "I have a good relationship with my away fans and I am looking forward to seeing them because they are just phenomenal.

"They are so noisy and get behind the team.

"Man for man, I don't think there is a noisier away crowd so we are really pleased with the support we get from the away fans and it has been nice to reward them with some good away victories and points."

But Hammell hopes pushing for another European adventure could help retain some of the players who are out of contract at the end of the season.

Motherwell were denied a fifth-round trip to face Hibernian at Easter Road, where they play tomorrow on Clydesdale Bank Premier League duty, and the chance to emulate their run to the final in 2011 when they lost 2-1 in a Fir Park replay on Tuesday.

The financial blow has given manager Stuart McCall less chance of holding on to the likes of Nicky Law, Darren Randolph and Jamie Murphy in the long term.

Hammell said: "I don't think it heaped pressure on us but we were aware of it.

"It's well documented, the gaffer even came out and said it, a cup run would help financially to keep some of the boys.

"I think that was another reason why it was disappointing to go out the cup, because I think this will be the last season that this group of players will be together.

"It's a strong group, one of the best teams I've played with, and at the end of this season, or maybe even sooner, that team might not be together, so it would have been nice to finish with a trip to Hampden. But it wasn't to be.

"I'm sure there will be some offers because of how well we have been doing, that's just the nature of how things are.

"If teams come looking from England, they will be able to offer bigger financial rewards.

"It will be a sad day if we lose a lot of these boys but hopefully we can keep most of the squad together and the gaffer has been able to bring in some real gems before."

Murphy turned down a move to Blackpool on the last day of this year's January transfer window in order to help Motherwell secure third place in the SPL and the Champions League qualifying spot that came with it.

And Hammell hopes a similar push can lift the gloom of the cup defeat.

"Hopefully the boys will not rush into any decisions in January, a lot of the deals usually take place at the last minute," he said.

"If they can stay at least until the end of the season, that would be a great boost for everyone.

"We've got to put that disappointment behind us now and look to bounce back against Hibs.

"There are European places up for grabs and we are confident we can show everyone we deserve to be there.

"We would like to get there and put the disappointment of going out the cup early behind us."

The Swede revealed many of his countrymen were less than impressed by Neil Lennon's side in the first leg of their play-off despite the visitors to Helsingborg emerging with a 2-0 lead that they doubled in the return at Parkhead.

The Scottish champions went on to qualify from Group G as runners-up to Barcelona following an impressive campaign which included a famous win over the Catalan giants, and are now looking forward to next Thursday's last-16 draw.

Lustig, who is hoping to see Celtic paired with boyhood favourites Juventus, was at Celtic Park to preview Saturday's Scottish Premier League clash with St Mirren but he looked back with satisfaction at the way the club's European sceptics had been silenced.

He said: "(The reaction in Sweden to us qualifying) has been quite massive.

"When we reached the Champions League a lot of the media in Sweden said that Celtic is probably the team that shouldn't be in the Champions League because they saw the first leg against Helsingborg and they weren't much impressed with that.

"Over two legs I think we were the stronger team but the first half in Helsingborg was really bad.

"Now they have seen that we are a really good team and work good together."

Asked about his childhood passion for Juve, the 26-year-old full-back added: "I was a big Juventus fan when I was growing up but I don't know why.

"I don't think they are going to win the Champions League but they are obviously the best team in Italy right now and they should be disappointed if they don't reach the semi-final.

"We are going to be underdogs whoever we get, although on paper Malaga could be a good draw for us.

"We were probably underdogs in every group game and we handled that pressure quite well."

Lustig claimed to be unaware of reports that Russian outfit Rubin Kazan are preparing a January bid for him, but he believes most Celtic players would resist the temptation to move in January.

"I think every player will want to play in the last 16," he said.

"It has been a long journey to reach that goal and now we are here I think all of the players would like to stay."

Lennon is trying to get his players to re-focus on domestic chores with Celtic, despite being three points clear at the top of the SPL, looking for their first home league win since October 7.

Looking ahead to the match with St Mirren, Lustig said: "Of course you think a lot about Champions League games so now it is nice to focus on the SPL.

"We have struggled a little bit, especially at home. It is hard to say why but we have some problems when teams come here just to defend.

"We have to find the key to break them down but hopefully we can do that tomorrow."

The former Liverpool and Blackburn player originally moved to Elland Road on a non-contract basis in the summer before signing a deal until January.

United manager Neil Warnock has been delighted with Diouf's influence on the pitch, where he has scored five goals since his arrival.

The 31-year-old is now contracted to the West Yorkshire giants until the end of the summer of 2014.

Warnock said: "We're delighted he's agreed everything and hopefully he'll enjoy the next 18 months with us.

"Obviously it's a massive boost for everyone to know we're going to have him around, and this is what we've wanted to do.

"He's a match-winning player, and there aren't many of them around. He's a player who can change a game and I'm delighted we've been able to keep him. He's also fitted in really well, and he's been great with the lads."

The Gorgie club are battling against a cash crisis and recently averted a winding-up order after paying Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs a ?450,000 bill, while also settling another issue with the tax authority by agreeing to pay ?1.5million over three years.

The Hearts players deferred their wages last month - which are now up to date - but although more than ?800,000 has been raised by a share issue scheme launched in October, it is short of the ?1.79million target and director Sergejus Fedotovas has warned of tough times ahead.

Lomas believes all that turmoil will be "irrelevant" to the Jambos' players when the game begins.

"I don't think it will have an effect on them, they have been through it all before," said the Northern Irishman. "Hearts players have played when they have had no wages, they have always been professional.

"The game is played on the pitch. Once you step over that white line everything is forgotten about. Everything else is irrelevant.

"You are there to do a job and they will want to prove a point, they will be wanting to win a game of football.

"So it is going to be tough. They are a side jam-packed with good players like Ryan McGowan and John Sutton so we will have to work hard and play well to get something from the game."

Lomas does not have his own problems to seek this week.

The Perth boss will ask David McCracken if he is ready to return early from his fractured cheekbone as Saints face an injury crisis in defence.

Defenders Steven Anderson, Frazer Wright

and skipper Dave Mackay are suspended while midfielder Chris Millar is also banned after being red carded in the 1-1 draw against St Mirren last week.

McCracken was expected to be out for six weeks after picking up the injury which required surgery when he clashed heads with Celtic midfielder Victor Wanyama during the 1-1 draw at Parkhead on November 11.

Lomas, though, is heartened by the character his side showed last week in battling for a draw against The Buddies.

The former Manchester City and West Ham midfielder said: "It won't be a makeshift side.

"It is now down to boys to come in and show what they can do. That

is a challenge for all the players.

"It is an opportunity for players and if they come in and play well then they keep the shirt.

"Last week the players showed me what I knew already, they have great character.

"We played 20 minutes with nine men so away from home that has got to be a great point and you have to be satisfied with that.

"As I said before on numerous occasions they are an honest bunch, they have shown it from day one and the players who came in during the summer have been the same."


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