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Rekik wants first-team football

17 April 2014 13:30

Karim Rekik has no intention of returning to Manchester City unless he can be guaranteed first-team football by Manuel Pellegrini.

The 19-year-old defender has spent this season on loan at PSV, making 29 appearances in all competitions.

Having experienced regular action in the Eredivisie, Rekik is not keen on heading back to the Etihad Stadium simply to sit on the bench.

“My main aim is to play for City, but I’ll only go back if I have a serious chance of game time,” he told Voetbal International.

“I’ve got a season’s experience of Dutch football under my belt, and it would be senseless for me to go back and spend another year sitting on the bench or in the stand.

“I need to be able to play a minimum 20 games for City next season in order to develop as a player and it is an important time for me.

“I will make this clear when I meet them to discuss my progress.

“I have a lot of competition with Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis, Joleon Lescott and Matija Nastasic in City’s squad.

“If they all stay put, it’s best for me to have another year out on loan.

“But Lescott wants to leave and if they let him go and don’t replace him, then it will be interesting for me.”

Rekik has made one previous Premier League appearance for City, in December 2012, and previously spent time on loan with Portsmouth and Blackburn Rovers.

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Wenger hopeful over Ozil

17 April 2014 13:13

Arsene Wenger hopes to have midfielder Mesut Ozil available for Arsenal’s Premier League trip to Hull City this weekend.

The Germany international has not featured for Wenger’s men since last month’s UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena due to a hamstring injury.

However, the 25-year-old could return at the KC Stadium on Sunday and give Arsenal a boost in the quest to finish fourth in the Premier League and win the FA Cup this season.

Mathieu Flamini will definitely return this weekend following suspension and Wenger could also have Nacho Monreal available, but Kieran Gibbs looks set to miss out.

“It’s good to have him (Ozil) back because we had so many offensive players out,” said the Frenchman.

“He always gives you opportunities to score and I have to test him physically (on Friday) and Saturday to see if he can travel.

“We have Flamini available as well, (but) I think Gibbs will be out for the weekend.

“But Monreal is possibly available.”

Arsenal have never lost at the KC Stadium in their previous two visits and will hope to maintain that record to stay ahead of Everton in the race for the final Champions League place.

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Abidal dismayed by Coupe de France exit

17 April 2014 13:09

Eric Abidal was left frustrated as Monaco’s Coupe de France hopes went up in smoke on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old was among the starters as Claudio Ranieri’s charges slipped to a 3-1 semi-final defeat after extra time against Ligue 1 strugglers Guingamp at the Stade du Roudourou.

Monaco – who sit second in Ligue 1 – had started the game as strong favourites against 17th-placed Guingamp, but failed to live up to expectations in a lacklustre showing.

Abidal failed to hide his annoyance after the game, especially considering Monaco had targeted glory in the Coupe de France as a key objective.

“The team is very disappointed,” he told Monaco’s official website. “We have been really keen to win this game.

“The Coupe de France was a goal we had since the beginning of the season. We were on the verge of getting there.

“It is very hard to lose. We have two goals, one ended tonight.”

Monaco will look to get back on track in Sunday’s Ligue 1 encounter with Nice.

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Smalling eager to fill Vidic void

17 April 2014 12:51

Chris Smalling hopes to fill the void that will be left in the Manchester United defence when Nemanja Vidic departs.

Vidic has been at Old Trafford for eight years, making 296 appearances to date, but will leave at the end of the current season and join Inter.

While acknowleding the impact made by Vidic, a winner of 10 major honours during his time at United, Smalling has stated a desire to fill the boots of the departing captain.

“Nemanja has been here a long time and produced so many great performances and won a lot of trophies,” Smalling told United’s club magazine.

“He’s set the benchmark in terms of being a real defensive force and, although it won’t be easy, we’ll do our best to fill that void.

“One thing he has always told me is ‘defend first’.

“When you’re defending, it’s always nice to clear a ball by playing it out with a nice pass or set us away on an attack, but at the end of the day you’re a defender and your job, first and foremost, is to defend.

“Therefore, you have to stop whoever you’re playing against, no matter what.”

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Dynamo Kiev sack Blokhin

17 April 2014 12:23

Dynamo Kiev have sacked head coach Oleg Blokhin after a run of one win in four matches saw the club lose pace in the Ukrainian title race.

The 61-year-old was appointed at Olimpiyskiy in September 2012 and led the club to a third-placed finish in his debut season in charge.

However, a 2-0 home defeat to league leaders Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday prompted Dynamo’s hierarchy to dispense of Blokhin’s services.

A statement on the club’s official website confirmed president Ihor Surkis had taken the decision to fire Blokhin for “unsatisfactory results demonstrated by the team”.

The Shakhtar setback left Dynamo seven points adrift of the leaders and second-placed Dnipro.

Blokhin enjoyed a 19-year spell at Dynamo during his playing career before moving into management.

He counts spells at the likes of Olympiacos and AEK Athens on his resume and also had two spells in charge of the Ukraine national team.

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