Terry, Ferdinand stay in Hodgson´s plans

11 August 2012 11:56

England coach Roy Hodgson insists that John Terry and Rio Ferdinand will stay in his plans as long as they avoid lengthy bans from the FA.

After being found not guilty of racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, Rio’s brother, in a criminal court, Terry now faces investigation by the national association.

Ferdinand, meanwhile, has been charged with improper conduct after promoting a Twitter message that carried racist undertones.

“John Terry has been through a charge in a court, now he has to go through the process the FA have embarked upon,” Hodgson told Sky Sports News.

“The same applies to Rio. As far as I am concerned, it is a disciplinary matter, which the FA will take care of.

“As long as they don’t suffer enormous bans that will keep them out of my thinking there is no reason for me to believe I can’t consider them in the future. And obviously I will.”

Hodgson, who has named a youthful squad for Wednesday’s friendly with Italy, also explained his decision to recall Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick.

Carrick had been left out of the country’s Euro 2012 squad and told the former West Brom manager he did not want to be on the reserves list for the tournament.

Less experienced players such as Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson were included in the squad but Hodgson has dismissed the criticism that Carrick could have been persuaded to play a part.

“Michael Carrick would have always been in our thinking,” Hodgson added.

“I was given to believe he didn’t want to be part of the England set-up. He didn’t want to be considered for the Euros so I reluctantly thought if people are not available they are not available.

“He has had discussions with Gary and me since and it turns out that he does want to play. This is an ideal opportunity to invite him to come and play for England again.

“There has never been any doubt that Carrick has not been in our thoughts or our wishes. It was more a case of believing he wasn’t available for England and it was a final decision.”

Schweinsteiger set to resume training

11 August 2012 11:38

Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is set to resume training ahead of Sunday’s DFL-Supercup clash against Borussia Dortmund.

The Germany international picked up an ankle injury in last week’s LIGA Total! Cup and Bayern initially feared the injury was serious.

Nevertheless, an early comeback seems on the cards and Schweinsteiger could even make the squad for Sunday’s match.

“He’s been working on sports rehab for the last few days,” coach Jupp Heynckes told reporters.

“The injury wasn’t particularly serious and all the pain has gone now. Will he make the squad for Sunday’s game? We will have to wait and see how much progress he has made.”

The news of Schweinsteiger’s return comes at a good time for Bayern, who will be without star striker Mario Gomez for up to six weeks after he underwent ankle surgery.

Heynckes said he was ‘very optimistic’ about Gomez’s recovery, adding the Germany international had responded well to surgery.

“He’s doing relatively well,” Heynckes said.

“The pain has gone away and he’s started physiotherapy.”

Gold in Neymar´s sights

11 August 2012 11:26

Brazil star Neymar is eagerly anticipating Saturday’s Olympic final against Mexico and is determined to win the gold medal.

The South Americans beat South Korea 3-0 in the semi-finals courtesy of a Romulo goal and two strikes from Leandro Damiao, and the 20-year-old is desperate to continue Brazil’s hot streak.

“It will be my first final with Brazil and I’m proud to be here representing the country in such an important moment like this, our first Olympic final in 24 years,” the Santos striker told ESPN.

“No Brazilian has ever won this and I feel I am prepared to help the team leave with the gold medal. We have to keep doing what we have been doing so far in the tournament. It has been working.”

Neymar went on to discuss the availability of Gio Dos Santos for Mexico, and stressed his absence will be a plus for the Brazilians.

“We would be very fortunate (if he does not play),” he said.

Mexico’s medical staff have confirmed that Dos Santos will miss the final due to his muscular problem.

Di Matteo: City are title favourites

11 August 2012 11:03

Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo admits both Manchester clubs are still ahead of his team despite their considerable spending.

The Italian has added attacking midfielders Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar to his squad so far in the off-season for a combined fee of around 65 million pounds.

Chelsea will face City in the Community Shield on Sunday and Di Matteo predicted they would prove the team to beat as defending champions, with United not trailing far behind.

“(Manchester City) are last season’s champions,” Di Matteo said. “They’ll be the team to beat, even though United were very close to them.

“Those two teams are probably a little bit ahead, but the champions we want to chase.”

In addition to Sunday’s pre-season curtain-raiser, Chelsea will compete in the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup this season as a result of their FA Cup and Champions League victories.

Di Matteo recognised the opportunity to challenge for extra silverware but also that his team must improve their final English Premier League position after finishing sixth during the 2011/12 campaign.

“Our biggest aim, or our ambition, is to be able to be challenging at the right end of the season for the trophies that are still available,” he said.

“We are going to be in a couple of competitions which are new to us, so they’re an opportunity for the club and the players, but we certainly have to do better in the Premier League.”

Chelsea adopted a largely defensive style as they secured European glory last season, but owner Roman Abramovich is said to admire Barcelona’s possession-based game.

Di Matteo was certain that his side, aided by their new signings, would entertain Blues fans but warned that no team could truly replicate the football played by the Catalan club.

“Everybody would like to play like Barcelona, but there isn’t another team in the world who play like them,” he said.

“It’s a culture, a way of life, a style they’ve produced through the club for many, many years. And there’s only one Lionel Messi around.”

Ki plays down Arsenal rumours

11 August 2012 10:35

Celtic midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng insists he knows nothing of stories linking him with a move to Arsenal.

The 23-year-old, labelled South Korea’s answer to Steven Gerrard in his homeland, has been the outstanding performer as his side surpassed expectations to win bronze at the London Games.

Reports this week had suggested the Gunners were preparing a bid worth nine million pounds for the tireless playmaker, who is also believed to be the subject of interest from last season’s Europa League winners Atletico Madrid.

But, after producing another polished display to help his country see off bitter rivals Japan in a hotly contested third-place playoff at the Millennium Stadium on Friday, Ki revealed he was not aware of any interest.

“I’m not sure,” Ki told reporters. “I haven’t heard anything about that.

“I just need some rest now and spend some time with my family, and then I will think about my future.”

The Celtic star also said he was delighted to claim a victory which not only secures him and his team-mates an Olympic medal, but also grants them exemption from military service in South Korea.

“This is the happiest moment of my life,” Ki said. “We were very tired after the quarter-final, but our mentality to win the game was very strong.

“Normally we pressure in front of the centre circle, but we were tired tonight.

“We weren’t fresh enough to play that way, so we dropped down a little bit, but we still had quick players up front to hit them on the counter-attack.

“Military service was something we were all going to have to do, and we are all glad to avoid it, because it means we can play in Europe for longer. It was a big motivation, definitely.”