England trio pull out of friendly

13 August 2012 13:26

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Daniel Sturridge and Joe Hart have pulled out of England’s squad for Wednesday’s friendly with Italy due to injury.

Arsenal midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain, who made his first England appearances this year ahead of Euro 2012, has been forced to pull out due to an ankle problem.

Chelsea striker Sturridge cited a toe problem, while Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart withdrew with a back complaint.

City defender Joleon Lescott has thus far been the only replacement named by England manager Roy Hodgson.

Hodgson’s squad for the friendly in Bern, named on Friday, had an experimental flavour to it with many regular players omitted in favour of giving the likes of Ryan Bertrand, Steven Caulker and Jake Livermore their first international call-ups, with Michael Carrick also selected for the first time since 2010

Sturridge looking to seize chance

13 August 2012 12:53

Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge hopes the departure of Didier Drogba will open up more chances for him to impress at Stamford Bridge.

Drogba ended his stay at the London club at the end of last season, joining Shanghai Shenhua in China, while another Blues striker, Romelu Lukaku, has moved to West Brom on loan.

Sturridge featured mainly as a winger last season, but is now only one of two recognised strikers at the club along with Fernando Torres.

“I hope so,” he told the club’s official website when asked if he expected to see increased playing time. “I’ve grown up a lot since I first joined the club.

“It’s my fourth season with the club so it’s going to be a big year, and a big year for everybody, but definitely a huge year for myself to prove to some people what I can do.”

After starting the 2011/12 campaign in impressive form, scoring eight of his 11 league goals before the end of December, the 22-year-old found his chances limited during the second half of the season.

“Obviously I wasn’t happy about that but you move on,” he said. “It was a good end to the season, we won two trophies. Hopefully this season we’ll have some success.

“I’m a confident person and I’m confident in my ability. I played out of position the whole season and didn’t get an opportunity as a striker.

“It was good to play, but I was out of position for the 43 games I played. At the end of the day I was happy to help the team last season and hopefully I’ll help them again this season.

“When you play a new position it gives you a new look on how to play football. Sometimes when strikers play on the wing they take shots on when they shouldn’t and they play in a certain way because they have a mentality of scoring goals.

“If you put any striker on the wing they’d have the same mentality as I did, which was to try and create chances but also score goals. That’s the main thing a striker feeds off and gets his confidence from.”

Cleverley pleased with United hit out

13 August 2012 12:53

Tom Cleverley relished his chance to start in Manchester United’s 4-3 friendly win over Hannover after returning from the Olympics.

The 23-year-old missed long stretches of last season due to injury problems after breaking into the United first team in a promising start to the season, and was pleased to get some games over the close season.

“I’ve been away for a few weeks now but to come back into a good game in a good stadium and be playing with the world-class players we’ve got only helps your game, so it’s good to be back,” the midfielder told MUTV.

“I think the Olympics has been good for me. I’ve got six games under my belt including the two friendlies so I feel 100 per cent. I’m happy and looking forward to the season.”

United’s assistant manager Mike Phelan praised Cleverly’s performance against Hannover, and highlighted the benefits of featuring Cleverley in the match alongside Great Britain team-mate Ryan Giggs.

“I thought Tom looked very, very sharp,” he commented.

“He’s played quite a few games for the Great Britain team so he’s probably ahead of schedule in some respects.

“Ryan probably needs to feel his way through it a little bit more, but Tom played a very, very good game for us.”

Fabregas admits to Barca struggles

13 August 2012 12:17

Cesc Fabregas concedes that he struggled to adapt at Barcelona last season under Pep Guardiola’s system.

The Spain international left Arsenal for Camp Nou last year but had a tough time living up to high expectations.

Fabregas believes the lack of freedom in the 41-year-old Guardiola’s formation hindered him.

“Under Guardiola I never really got to grips with the system,” the 25-year-old told Marca.

“I had been playing another style of football and to take on board so much so quickly was difficult, because everyone else had already got it down.

“Playing in central midfield was hard for me because I need more mobility and I am not quick off the mark in the first few metres.

“I am not asking for anything, but that is my way of playing. It is true that I am a bit anarchic, but that is my style. Some people commented that I lacked something last season, including Guardiola.

“It was my fault really because I tried to be what I am not; I am not Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta, or Thiago (Alcantara). I am me and I need mobility, to participate more.”

Fabregas netted nine goals in 28 Liga appearances last season.

Zapata eager to impress in Milan

13 August 2012 12:30

Cristian Zapata is desperate to prove his worth at AC Milan and is confident that he has what it takes to succeed at the Serie A giants.

The Colombian defender joined the Italian club from Villarreal on a one-year loan deal, and he is ready to fill the void left by Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta’s departures.

“Milan have lost the two best central defenders in the world, and now it is up to me to prove that I am Milan quality. Thiago Silva’s legacy? It does not scare me,” Zapata told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I know that I am a good player, and I know that I have what it takes to succeed at Milan if I work hard. I joined Milan because it’s a great club that is always competing for titles.

“I was very happy when I found out that Milan were interested in signing me. And I could not wait to start training at Milanello.”

The 25-year-old previously played in Serie A at Udinese between 2005 and 2011.