Bremen lose Wiese for Bayern clash

Werder Bremen’s Tim Wiese has pulled out of this weekend’s Bundesliga clash with Bayern Munich for personal reasons.

The 29-year-old’s father lost his battle with cancer this week and the goalkeeper has been excused from club duty on compassionate grounds.

Wiese did not train on Tuesday or Wednesday and coach Thomas Schaaf was not sure when the player will return to action.

“I spoke with him this morning (Wednesday),” Schaaf told the club’s official website. “It is difficult to handle. We must see how he feels in the next few days.”

Wiese’s absence is likely to result in a start for understudy Sebastian Mielitz. Meanwhile, Werder captain Clemens Fritz and Claudio Pizarro also missed training on Tuesday.

Fritz was struggling with a minor back problem, but Pizarro, who spent the day working with club physio Sven Plagge, remains sidelined with a knee ligament problem and it is not yet known if the Peruvian striker will be fit to face his former club at the weekend.

Bremen go into Saturday’s meeting with Bayern at the Allianz Arena in fourth in the Bundesliga standings, just two points behind their hosts and one further adrift of co-leaders Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Cattermole unfazed by Sunderland goal drought

Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole has warned his team-mates not to dwell on their troubles in front of goal as they look to turn their season around.

The Black Cats have struggled to find goals this campaign, scoring just once in their last three Premier League games, with the drought proving costly in a wasteful game against Wigan on Saturday at the Stadium of Light, which they lost 2-1.

However, the skipper insists that his side focus on the positives from their efforts in front of goal earlier in the season, where they netted 12 goals in just six games.

“I don’t think it’s been so much the goals we can’t get this season that’s been the problem,” Cattermole told Sunderland Echo. “It’s been more conceding more goals than we ever have.”

“Maybe we’re lacking a little bit of spark in the final third, but then two of the last three games have been against Man United and a well-organised Fulham team.”

“Before that, we scored four against Stoke, two against Villa, two against Bolton and two against West Brom. We know the goals are there.”

“We hit the crossbar twice against Fulham and we’re creating chances, so I don’t think there’s necessarily a problem there.”

Sunderland are currently 16th on the table, and despite their recent lack of form and rising opposition to manager Steve Bruce, they are not been a lost cause according to Cattermole.

“On the whole, we look a lot more solid as a team,” he said. “But we chased the game in the last 10 or 15 minutes and were caught out.”

“I think that’s understandable with the fans urging us on and the lads wanting to go and win the game.”

“You’re going to take a few more risks, especially at home. But we’re starting to look more solid, which has been part of our downfall this season.”

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Carrick urges calm from United doubters

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick is adamant his side should not be written off in the Premier League title race.

United are currently five points behind leaders and bitter rivals Manchester City in the Premier League.

However, Carrick insists nobody at Old Trafford is panicking just yet.

The 30-year-old told reporters: “With United, it always seems to be the case that if you lose a game or have an indifferent match or two the roof caves in, or that is what people on the outside think.”

“We have been here before. We have had bad results and bad runs, a lot worse than the one we are on at the minute.”

“Experience tells us to be patient. People can write us off if they want but hopefully we will be there at the end of the season.”

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Leverkusen complete Leno swoop

Bayer Leverkusen have announced an agreement with Stuttgart over the transfer of goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

The 19-year-old has been on loan with Robin Dutt’s side since the start of the season, and having initially penned a six-month deal, was intended to be a short-term solution to replace the injured Rene Adler.

Leno has impressed, however, to the point that Leverkusen purchased his services from Stuttgart and offered the player a contract until June of 2017, to which he has agreed.

“In Bernd Leno, we have secured the services of one of the most outstanding goalkeeping talents in Germany in the long term,” Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller told the club’s official website.

“Bernd has helped us through a very difficult situation in the past few months. He superbly filled in for the injured Rene Adler, and played a big part in helping us qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.”

Leverkusen chief executive Wolfgang Holzhauser echoed Voller’s statements.

“Bernd Leno has completely justified the confidence we placed him, despite his youth and complete inexperience in professional football,” Holzhauser said.

“In the past weeks and months, he has always been a good performer in the team. With his excellent performances, he has earned a long-term contract.”

Leno was delighted with his full transfer to Leverkusen and thanked his former club Stuttgart for helping him develop into the player he is today.

“I feel very well at Bayer and am grateful that the club have given me the chance to play in the Bundesliga and the Champions League,” Leno said.

“I would like to pay back this confidence. The club had several other options, but they chose me when Rene Adler had to have surgery.”

“This impressed me very much, so I wanted to stay in Leverkusen. I thank VfB for a good time. There I received a great education that enabled me to make the next step.”

Leno made his debut in his side’s second Bundesliga game of the season against Werder Bremen.

He has since featured in every match for Leverkusen, and has been promoted to the Germany Under-21 national team.

A fee for his release was not disclosed, but is estimated to be in the region of seven million euros.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Chiefs in talks with star duo

Kaizer Chiefs have resumed talks with Itumeleng Khune and Siphiwe Tshabalala over possible new contracts with the club.

The current contracts of the two players with the Chiefs will expire in June 2012, and at the moment speculation is rife that South African international Khune is on the wanted list of Mamelodi Sundowns.

However, the players’ business manager Jazzman Mahlakgane has cleared the air over the future of the duo with the Kaizer Chiefs.

“We started talking to Chiefs yesterday,” Mahlakgane told Kickoff.com. “If I may, let me say we are at the initial phase of negotiations. All is good and there is nothing to worry about.”

Mahlakgane has also dispelled the rumour linking Khune with a move to Sundowns, saying for now both Khune and Tshabalala are committed to talking to only one club – Chiefs.

“You know how it is in football; I can’t stop people saying what they want to say to the public, but what I can tell you is that we are talking to Chiefs,” Mahlakgane said.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Kean: Blackburn ´forfeited´ Cup match

Blackburn boss Steve Kean made the shocking revelation that his side had ‘forfeited’ their Carling Cup quarter-final with Cardiff on Tuesday.

Rovers were defeated 2-0 by the Championship outfit as the Bluebirds moved into the last four of the tournament.

Kean, who made five changes from the side that lost 3-1 at Blackburn on Saturday, admitted afterwards that he had not taken the game seriously, with more important matches on the agenda.

Blackburn currently sit last on the Premier League table and have winnable games against Swansea City, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Bolton all before Christmas.

“We are in a position where we have forfeited going through and having the chance to reach a cup final,” Kean said.

“We have games against sides within touching distance of us in the league. We need to treat those games as cup finals.”

Defenders Christopher Samba, Martin Olsson and Michel Salgado were all rested, despite Kean suggesting that they could have played if Saturday’s match against Swansea was not as important.

“They could have played at a push and if we had been in a slightly different position in the league,” Kean said.

“We have Swansea coming up so I made five changes and left those lads behind. We wanted to make sure we have those lads available for Saturday. Saturday has to kick-start our season.”

Rovers fans continued to protest against Kean throughout the match, with ‘Kean Out’ songs ringing out from the away end once again.

But the manager has re-iterated that the fans’ disapproval does not bother him, before issuing a rallying call.

“It’s never nice when the fans are negative but, when you are focused on the game, it’s something you put to the back of your mind. It doesn’t affect me,” he said.

“We all want the same things. We all want the club to win the game. The fans are frustrated but we all need to stick together.”

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Di Natale hopes for Italy recall

Udinese forward Antonio Di Natale wants to return to Italy’s national side and feels he has done enough at club level to merit a call-up.

The 34-year-old has scored 10 goals in 36 appearances for Italy, but has not worn the jersey of the national side since their humiliating first-round exit 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“I don’t think that you need to be a certain age to be part of the (Italy) squad,” Di Natale said.

“I think scoring more than 60 goals in two seasons is enough to put yourself in the spotlight for selection.”

“It’s just up to the coach to decide whether to pick me or not. In the meantime I am at his disposal. For now I am just concentrating on Udinese, but I would be very happy to represent Italy again.”

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli recently said that he is closely monitoring the striker’s performances and added that Di Natale is still a candidate for the national side.

Di Natale scored 28 times from 36 appearances for Udinese last term.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Homosexuality still “taboo”, says Tommasi

Italian Players Union president Damiano Tommasi has advised gay footballers not to publicly come out, describing homosexuality as “taboo”.

The former Roma star feels that players expressing their personal sexuality is to be discouraged as it could cause embarrassment and professional difficulties.

“Homosexuality is still a taboo in football in the sense that there is a different kind of cohabitation to other professions,” Tommasi told AFP.

“Coming out’s to be discouraged. The fact of being identified or singled out as ‘the one who is’, regardless of your profession, whether journalist, footballer or politician, I don’t think it would be an advisable path to take.”

“Expressing your personal sexuality is difficult in every professional environment, and even more so for a footballer, who shares a changing room with his team-mates, and hence also his intimacy with others.”

“In our world it could cause embarrassment. In a sport in which you get undressed it could cause an extra difficulty in cohabitation.”

The 37-year-old Tommasi made 25 international appearances for Italy during his playing career.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Rutten eyes top spot

PSV coach Fred Rutten is keen to claim all three points against Legia Warsaw on Wednesday to ensure top spot in Europa League Group C.

Both sides have already ensured their advancement to the knockout stages with two games still to play, but Rutten is keen to secure top spot by getting a good result in Poland.

“We have already qualified from Group C and would very much like to win the group. That’s why we will take Wednesday’s match at Legia Warsaw very seriously,” Rutten told the club’s official website.

“We’ve always been favourites but Legia will also field a strong team. They’re a physically strong and organised team.”

Rutten then went on to explain that goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton will not feature in Wednesday’s match.

The Polish goalkeeper travelled to Poland along with the team for the first time since sustaining a concussion against Ajax in September, but PSV want to take things slowly with his recovery.

“Tyton is recovering well and has made two appearances with the reserves so far, but we want to take things slowly,” Rutten said. “Khalid Sinouh is on the bench.”

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Bayer Leverkusen complete Bernd Leno signing

Bayer Leverkusen have announced the signing of keeper Bernd Leno from Stuttgart on their official website.

The 19-year-old keeper spent last six months on loan at Bay Arena, but he has now joined Die Werkself on a permanent deal.

The youngster has brilliantly deputized for injured keeper Rene Adler and has agreed to sign a five-and-a-half-year deal with Bayer.

“In Bernd Leno, we have secured the services of one of the most outstanding goalkeeping talents in Germany in the long term,” Bayer sporting director Rudi Voller told club’s official website.

“Bernd has helped us through a very difficult situation in the past few months. He superbly filled in for the injured Rene Adler, and played a big part in helping us qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League.”

Wed 30 November, 2011
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