Rooney desired to play for Everton again

8 August 2012 10:20

Tony Hibbert has revealed that Wayne Rooney asked to feature for Everton in the defender’s testimonial.

But Rooney had to pull out as the game clashed with Manchester United’s pre-season friendly against Barcelona.

The boyhood fan left the Merseyside club in discordant fashion in 2004 and has suffered scorn from Toffees fans ever since, but was keen to show his appreciation to the club’s longest-serving player.

And Hibbert was touched by the willingness shown by Rooney in light of an expected backlash from some sections of fans.

“It was great that he asked me but it just worked out that Manchester United also have a game and he was quite upset when he realised,” Hibbert is quoted as saying by The Guardian.

“It says everything about Wayne that he was willing to do that. He probably would have got a bad reception but he is not fazed about that. He loves Everton. Deep down he is still an Evertonian.

“I know for a fact that he still goes to games. He will do anything for Everton. It was a great honour for me that he wanted to play in the game. I was surprised when he asked whether he could play and if I would like him to. I jumped at the chance but obviously he has other commitments.”

Despite the opportunity to wear the Everton shirt for the first time since his 27-million-pound exit, Hibbert has tipped Rooney to one day represent the club after his playing days with United are over.

Hibbert added: “I think it is possible. If Wayne wants it, then I think the club would be stupid not to welcome him back. I think there would be a few moans but for us to get a player like Wayne Rooney, who is still a massive Evertonian, like all his family, would be fantastic.”

AEK Athens come to Goodison Park to honour Hibbert’s 12-year career in the Everton first team – in which time he has amassed 309 appearances.

However, the 31-year-old has never scored for the Premier League side in that time, a club record, and he is hesitant to step up if the opportunity arises on Wednesday night.

“Everyone has been asking me that. The manager hasn’t said anything, nobody has,” he added.

“I would rather us win 1-0 than us get beaten 2-1 and I score the goal. I just want to win. I don’t know why everyone is saying I should take a penalty either. It’s an easy way of scoring, isn’t it? If I’m going to do it, I want it to be a 30-yarder.”

Crouch wants Owen at Stoke

8 August 2012 09:58

Stoke City forward Peter Crouch has admitted he would love Michael Owen to join him at the Britannia Stadium.

The 32-year old is currently without a club after Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson opted against renewing his contract at the end of last season and with the new campaign looming large the former Tottenham striker has claimed the Potters would be a good move for Owen.

Despite spending his career at Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United and Manchester United, Crouch feels that a move to Tony Pulis’ side would not necessarily be a backward step in Owen’s career.

“Coming to Stoke was never a step down,” Crouch told The Sun.

“I was really happy the manager could give me games when I was in and out of the Tottenham side.

“I’d rather play a big part in something smaller than be a small part of something bigger.

“I know Michael has a big decision to make after leaving a club the size of Manchester United – but I had a similar decision to make last summer.

“At Tottenham we were challenging for a Champions’ League place every season. We’re not doing that at Stoke but we are building something worthwhile here.”

Crouch also added that more playing time and the club’s fans would make Stoke an attractive proposition for Owen.

“If you want to play regular football and enjoy playing again, this is a great place to be,” he said.

“Michael will obviously make his own decision but a player of that calibre would be fantastic to have around the place.

“And the fans will absolutely love him. They were amazing with me when I first signed and they’re still great with me now.”

Fontas on the comeback trail

8 August 2012 09:47

Barcelona defender Andreu Fontas has vowed to fight for his place in the starting line-up as he continues his rehabilitation from injury.

The 22-year-old has been with the club since 2007, becoming a regular for the B team and racking up 72 appearances, but has found first-team games harder to come-by, playing just 16 matches in the past three seasons.

The Spaniard has been troubled by injury recently, rupturing a cruciate ligament in his knee in January, but is hoping to be back in action within the next few days for the pre-season clashes against Manchester United and Dinamo Bucharest.

“If all goes well, I hope to be discharged on Tuesday, and to play a few minutes on Wednesday in Gothenburg (against United) or Saturday in Bucharest,” he told Marca.

“The truth is that I’m getting very excited.”

Fontas rubbished claims that he was looking to leave the Catalan side in order to seek first-team football elsewhere.

“I never thought about leaving the team. I feel good here and I will continue working at the club,” he said.

Copa Sudamericana wrap: Olimpia, Cobreloa battle through

8 August 2012 07:45

Paraguayan powerhouses Olimpia won through to the Copa Sudamericana second round after coming from behind to beat Danubio 2-1.

Uruguayan side Danubio drew first blood in Asuncion on Tuesday when Argentinean forward Leonardo Carboni headed home in the 23rd minute.

But Olimpia added two goals in five minutes before half-time through Eduardo Aranda and Juan-Manuel Salgueiro.

Danubio’s chances of snaring a reply were dented when midfielder Angel Cayetano was sent off 10 minutes from full-time.

Olimpia will face either Ecuadorian outfit Emelec or Peru’s Universidad San Martin next, with the former holding a 1-0 first-leg advantage.

Meanwhile, Chilean team Cobreloa also advanced to the second round after a 2-2 home draw against Paraguay’s Tacuary, which gave them a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Their win set up a clash with either Venezuelan side Deportivo Tachira or Ecuadorian giants Barcelona.

Cobreloa took a two-goal lead through Cristian Canio’s right-footed strike and Marcos Pol’s header.

But Tacuary substitute Ramon Cardozo reduced the deficit in the 62nd minute and then a late Cristian Suarez own goal squared the ledger.

Minniecon joins Wanderers

8 August 2012 07:21

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has made Tahj Minniecon the 13th signing to his inaugural A-League squad.

The former Queensland Roar and Gold Coast United forward had been on trial with the A-League’s newest club, and has now secured a one-year deal to join the Wanderers for their debut campaign.

Minniecon, 23, will be hoping to return to the type of player who won Australia youth representation, before injury and a struggle for form struck.

After a breakout A-League season for the Roar in 2007-08, he joined Gold Coast as their youth marquee but failed to hit the heights his ability promised.

“I’m ecstatic, I’m glad I’m here and happy to keep working with the squad,” Minniecon said via a club statement.

“It’s a lot of weight off my shoulders with Tony showing confidence in me.

“I’m definitely looking to work extremely hard to get myself fit and ready and get back to playing the football I know I’m capable of.

“It’s a really professional club here, so it’s good to have these surroundings and be part of this environment.”