Wilshere suffers new injury setback

1 August 2012 15:12

Injured Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere looks almost certain to miss at least the opening three months of the new Premier League season.

Manager Arsene Wenger said last weekend that he hoped the England international, who has not played a competitive match for 14 months, could figure for the Gunners before October.

But it appears the club are far more pessimistic about the midfielder’s recovery and do not expect him to return to first-team action until mid-November at the earliest.

The 20-year-old is regarded as some way short of full fitness and has not progressed beyond light training separate from the first-team squad, despite spending the whole summer working on his rehabilitation at the club’s London Colney headquarters.

Wilshere has suffered a series of setbacks in his recovery from an ankle injury originally sustained on England duty against Switzerland on June 4 last year, leading him to pull out of Euro 2012 after missing the entire 2011-12 campaign and undergoing minor knee surgery in May.

Wenger has delivered a series of increasingly negative medical bulletins about the recovery of one of Arsenal and England’s most precious assets.

The youngster was left behind to continue his rehabilitation while the club embarked on their pre-season tour of Asia and the club have been forced to again plan for the start of the new campaign without the star of their 2010-11 season.

“Hopefully, we will get Wilshere back playing for October,” Wenger told reporters on Sunday, before Arsenal’s final match of their Asia tour in Hong Kong.

“With Abou Diaby returning, it will be like signing two new players. The squad will be strong and competitive.”

Arsenal will continue to handle Wilshere’s recovery carefully, but it is not the first time that they have had a player supposedly on the road to recovery suffer seemingly endless setbacks.

The Arsenal medical team have, in recent years, struggled to get to the bottom of long-term pain with Tomas Rosicky, Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby, who have all had to endure nearly entire seasons on the sidelines.

Bridge on target in Wanderers win

1 August 2012 15:03

Mark Bridge was on the scoresheet as the Western Sydney Wanderers defeated Blacktown Spartans 2-0 in a friendly on Wednesday.

The Australian international was on target as over 4,000 fans watched the Wanderers – who will enter the A-League in the 2012-13 season – record victory in their second ever match as a professional club.

Despite the likes of Aaron Mooy, Tarek Elrich and Nikolai Topor-Stanley all starting for Tony Popovic’s side, the first half was scoreless.

Bridge – who crossed to the Wanderers from Sydney FC – broke the duck after 59 minutes though before trialist Ricky Zucco added a second just six minutes later.

Western Sydney will continue to prepare for the A-League season with another friendly, against Blacktown City next Wednesday.

Four-star Macallister leads Heart rout

1 August 2012 14:46

Dylan Macallister scored four goals as Melbourne Heart recorded a convincing 8-0 friendly win over Port Melbourne on Wednesday.

Heart manager John Aloisi selected a strong side for the pre-season match and the A-League outfit claimed the lead after just 20 minutes as Macallister opened his account.

The former Gold Coast United forward – who scored twice in a friendly against a VCL XI on Friday – had his hat-trick sewn up by the half-hour mark as he hit a terrific strike from outside the box before chipping over the opposition goalkeeper.

And although Macallister hit the crossbar early in the second half, he nodded a fourth home on 59 minutes before being substituted by Aloisi.

A James Grech own goal saw Melbourne Heart move into a 5-0 lead before a late Zac Walker double and a David Williams effort wrapped up the convincing victory.

Conte faces three-month ban

1 August 2012 14:31

Juventus boss Antonio Conte is set to miss the start of the 2012-13 Serie A season.

Conte, 42, has agreed a plea bargain with Scommessopoli federal prosecutor Stefano Palazzi, which means he could be banned for three months and fined 200,000 euros for his role in the match-fixing scandal that has shook Italy.

Conte failed to report two instances of wrongdoing while in charge of Siena and took the plea bargain on Wednesday.

The trial into the betting probe started with Palazzi explaining Conte’s plea bargain, as well as those agreed by several other accused parties, to the disciplinary committee.

The chamber then retired to discuss whether the deal is adequate punishment, or if further measurements should be taken.

The rules of the plea bargain mean that Conte would be banned from the dressing room, bench and press areas on matchdays.

However, Conte could still coach Juve on a day-to-day basis, as well as give team talks before the squad enter the stadium on match day.

Wednesday’s friendly against Benfica would be Conte’s last game in charge of Juve for now, if the disciplinary committee accepts the plea bargain.

Clottey sets the bar high

1 August 2012 14:24

Berekum Chelsea forward Emmanuel Clottey wants to score 18 goals in the CAF Champions League this season.

The 24-year-old Ghanaian has taken the competition by storm so far, bagging 11 strikes, of which six came in qualifying.

And despite being drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ alongside Zamalek and Al Ahly of Egypt and TP Mazembe of Congo – sides who have all won the competition before – Berekum Chelsea have made a bright start to the group stages.

With five goals from Clottey in the two Group B matches so far, they sit second with four points from two matches.

If they are to continue causing upsets, the form of Clottey will be vital, and the forward has set himself the ambitious aim of scoring seven more times in the competition.

“It’s always good to have a goal in life,” Clottey told Goal.com.

“I believe I can reach that target and I have always been training towards that. I have always believed in myself and with God all things are possible.”

Clottey – who is capped at under-20, under-23 and senior level for Ghana – is hopeful his stunning performances can bring attention to Ghana’s poorly funded and largely ignored smaller clubs.

“We have a lot of players in Division One and Two who are doing very well, but nobody is paying attention to them,” he said.

“All they need is a little push and you’ll see the wonders they can do. I come from there so I know how it feels. That’s what has motivated me up to this stage. I’m proud of my roots.”