Martinez: Beausejour on comeback trail

12 September 2012 21:28

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is confident Jean Beausejour will soon return to action after tearing a hamstring against Stoke City.

Chilean international Beausejour was forced to sit out his county’s fixtures with the injury but Martinez expects to see the winger back sooner than later.

“The scan he had after the Stoke game revealed that he had a tear in his hamstring, so now he’s in a stage of recovery and we’re assessing how long that will take,” Martinez told reporters.

“It’s too early to predict when he’ll be able to return to action, but he’s progressing well and hopefully it won’t be too long.”

Wigan are also hopeful Scotland international James McArthur will soon return to the first team and Martinez has praised his strength of character.

“James has been through a very demanding start to the season, because after an hour or so on the pitch his back begins to stiffen up and against Chelsea and Stoke he tired towards the end of the game when the tempo was high,” he said.

“But he has such a strong mentality which allows him to be available and I think the two-week period we’ve had has helped him with his full recovery.

“Fortunately we have a large squad and the games we play in every competition are so important in building that understanding the players have of the roles required when they take to the pitch.

“All the players have that understanding now and can bring something different to the set-up as well which is a real strength we have.”

Iniesta: Riquelme will be missed

12 September 2012 20:51

Andres Iniesta has praised his former Barcelona team-mate Juan Roman Riquelme and says the game will be poorer without the playmaker.

The pair were at Camp Nou during Louis van Gaal’s time in charge of the club, and although they only played together for one year, the Argentine – who recently left Boca Juniors – left a lasting impression on the Spain international.

“It is always sad when a world-class player such as Riquelme is no longer in the pitch. If he decides to retire, football has lost one of the best,” he told Augol.

“I was lucky to have met him in my early years at Barcelona. After so many games, after so many good times we enjoyed and we’ve seen, I can say that I am delighted to have been his team-mate.

“When I played with him and when I’ve seen him play what I liked most was the class that he had with the ball, the passes he made, the combinations.

“He is a player with whom I identify, in the sense that he gives the football and asks for the ball at all times.”

Iniesta said he remains in awe of the way current Barca colleague Lionel Messi makes things so look so effortless on such a regular basis.

“With Leo I do not see any flaw. It is impossible to have a defect when you’re number one, with each match he can decide what and when he makes the hardest things seem easy,” he said.

“I have spent many years sharing a dressing room with him and train every day. He is very young still, bearing in mind what has been achieved and what remains to be achieved.

“Year after year he exceeds himself. He is unique.”

Jagielka: We need to build on draw

12 September 2012 20:36

England’s Phil Jagielka believes the team can build on their 1-1 draw with Ukraine and will still automatically qualify for the World Cup 2014.

The visitors nearly pulled off a shock win but England came away with a point when a late Frank Lampard penalty snatched a draw.

The Everton defender, who replaced the sidelined John Terry in the starting line-up, admitted the performance was not the best from Roy Hodgson’s side, but said the team has plenty of room for improvement.

“We’d have loved to have had the full six points (from the first two games) but four points will do,” Jagielka said.

“As long as we continue building on it, we’ll be fine. (It was) definitely one point gained.

“We look forward to the next game now and if we can make that seven then it’s a progression and hopefully we’ll finish top of the group.

“But if you look at the chances we created, two or three pretty clear-cut ones in the first half and a couple more in the second – hitting the post and stuff – as much as the performance wasn’t amazing, we still showed glimpses of being able to create the chances.

“If we’d taken them, especially earlier on, we’d have been in control of the game.”

England had a Jermain Defoe goal disallowed as referee Cuneyt Cakir frequently blew his whistle against the home side to frustrate the Wembley faithful, and Jagielka admitted to being frustrated by the official’s performance.

“We’re winning the ball and the ref’s either booking us or giving free kicks,” Jagielka said. “So, a little bit frustrating but there’s not much we can do about that.

“Thankfully, we managed to keep plugging away and get the penalty. Frank was calm as you like, finished it off, and a draw’s not a bad result at the end.”

Girard prepared for Reims test

12 September 2012 20:33

Montpellier head coach Rene Girard has praised newly promoted Reims and expects a tough clash in Ligue 1 on Friday.

Girard’s side have begun the defence of their inaugural league title slowly, having picked up just four points from as many games.

Montpellier sit 13th on the Ligue 1 table, just one spot ahead of Reims, who finished second in Ligue 2 last season and have impressed Girard so far in the French top tier.

“It will be tough,” Girard said.

“I’ve watched their game.

“It’s a fresh new team, they are quite good at the moment, they started the league very well, so yes, it will be an interesting game.

“It’s always interesting to play against teams who play football.”

With their first UEFA Champions League group game against Arsenal looming, Girard knows Montpellier need to develop a winning mentality.

But Montpellier’s head coach has argued his side has only missed out early in the season by fine margins and could easily be better situated on the Ligue 1 table.

“I’ve learned everything goes up and down very quickly in football,” Girard said.

“We could have had two or three points more after the first three matches.”

Girard hopes his team’s win away to Sochaux prior to the international break will be the start of a positive run of form.

“I liked that the players said our season starts after that (victory),” Girard said.

“But it’s not an end.

“We won at Sochaux, we took three points, we have another away game at Reims … it’s never easy to play two away games in a row.”

Ibrahimovic: PSG will be Champions League force

12 September 2012 20:17

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is confident Paris Saint-Germain will soon be a force to be reckoned with in the Champions League.

The Swede moved to Parc des Princes during the off-season in a big-money move from AC Milan, and has already made an impact, scoring four goals in his first three Ligue 1 games.

Although Carlo Ancelotti’s men have won just once domestically this season, Ibrahimovic is confident they will be able to get back on track soon due to the quality of the squad.

“It’s very exciting. Everything is new to me, as it is for the club – in the sense they are becoming big and powerful, signing big players, great players, and they want to win big trophies,” he told UEFA.com.

“I believe their dreams can come true and I want to be part of that. They are collecting all the big players together and want to create a big team.

“It means the French league will become more attractive, more exciting and the standard will rise. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

“I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t believe PSG could win the Champions League. It’s true I have never won it, but I’m not desperate.

“The team have to grow, play together and win matches. It will take time to reach the level of the top clubs because everything is new here, but it’s the aim of the club and we have every opportunity to make that happen.”

The talismanic forward explained that he was persuaded to move to the French capital by Ancelotti, with whom he had come close to working on two previous occasions.

“It’s destiny. We were close in 2006 and something could have happened in 2010. We were far away, but it could have happened; now, finally, we are working together,” he said.

“He played a big part, absolutely. I talked to him before I came and he convinced me, telling me it was a fantastic opportunity. Everything he told me would happen is what I am seeing now.”