Andrews wants to stay at West Brom

West Brom midfielder Keith Andrews is expecting to hold talks over signing a long-term deal before the end of the season.

Republic of Ireland international Andrews signed a six-month contract after joining West Brom from English Premier League rivals Blackburn Rovers in January.

The 31-year-old said he is keen to extend his stay at The Hawthorns after netting in each his first two appearances, a 5-1 thrashing of local rivals Wolverhampton Wanders, and Saturday’s 4-0 win over Sunderland.

“I’d love to stay here. I’m sure there’ll be conversations over the next few months,” Andrews told The Sun.

“There’s a real togetherness around this place.”

Andrews has also been quick to praise fellow West Brom midfielders James Morrison and Youssouf Mulumbu.

“It’s a joy to come in and play with the lads,” Andrews told the club’s official website.

“The three in midfield has been working very well and, if anything, we look more attacking the way we are setting up at the moment.”

“Mozza (Morrison) scored on Saturday and myself, and we are getting forward at the right times.”

“But at the same time we’ve got Youssouf mopping up behind us and one of us sitting a bit.”

“Mozza has been fantastic, he is a bundle of energy. I find it very easy to play with him.”

Wed 29 February, 2012
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Yakubu aims for Nigeria redemption

Blackburn Rovers striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni is relieved to be back in the Nigeria squad for their match against Rwanda on Wednesday.

Yakubu was frozen out of the Nigeria set-up following a nightmare goal-mouth miss against South Korea at the 2010 World Cup, where his team exited in the group stage.

National coach Stephen Keshi has recalled him for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Rwanda, and the striker is hoping to rehabilitate his image in the eyes of the country’s supporters.

“It’s normal when you play for the national team as a football player,” Yakubu was quoted as saying by SuperSport.

“You get chances and miss some. You get criticism both from your team-mates at your club and at the national team. It’s normal.”

“I don’t feel bad any more. It gives me the determination to do more and hopefully, I can perform better in the future.”

“I am happy to be back. I didn’t get the chance to play for the team since the last World Cup and I am pleased to be back in the national team.”

Wed 29 February, 2012
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Arteta thinks Van Persie will stay

Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta says Robin van Persie is not affected by speculation surrounding his future and does not expect the captain to leave.

Dutchman Van Persie has been in scintillating form this season, with 23 goals to his name already, including hat-tricks against Blackburn and London rivals Chelsea.

Such performances are rumoured to have attracted attention from across the continent, with Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid reportedly interested in the 28-year-old striker.

Nevertheless, team-mate Arteta is confident the Netherlands international will remain at the Emirates Stadium.

“I do not see Van Persie leaving Arsenal,” Arteta told COM Radio.

“He is completely unaffected by interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona and not thinking about his contract renewal either.”

“Now he is very calm and is not nervous about anything. I know he has said that in the summer he will consider things, talk it over and take the decision that he will take.”

Wed 29 February, 2012
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Stevens fears losing Schalke stars

Schalke coach Huub Stevens fears the club may be powerless to keep Raul and Jefferson Farfan beyond the end of the season.

German media reports have claimed Raul will leave the Gelsenkirchen outfit when his contract expires at the end of the campaign, with Schalke reportedly unable to meet the player’s wage demands.

Schalke director Horst Heldt revealed last month the club had opened talks with the Spaniard regarding a new contract, but Stevens appears resigned to losing the striker.

“I am making plans with them (Raul and Farfan) only until the summer,” Stevens told Sport Bild.

“I do not have any hopes about them.”

“If clubs with some financial power come for them, we will have very few chances (of keeping them).”

It is believed Schalke are unwilling to increase their initial offer to Raul of 4 million euros per year, while Punto Pelota claims the veteran striker is leaning towards accepting an offer to play in Qatar next season.

The former Real Madrid forward, who joined Schalke in 2010, has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season.

Wed 29 February, 2012
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Borini pays tribute to Enrique influence

Roma’s Fabio Borini has praised club coach Luis Enrique after receiving his first senior call-up to the Italy national team.

Borini, 20, said it was an ‘honour and a privilege’ to be by selected by Italy coach Cesare Prandelli in the squad for an international friendly against the United States on Wednesday.

And the youngster credited Enrique as the driving force behind his selection for the match in Genoa.

“The underlying reason for my call-up is Luis Enrique, who gave me great confidence, especially after my injury, and continues to believe in me,” Borini told Il Messaggero.

Borini, who joined Roma from Chelsea at the beginning of this season, claims he is not getting carried away with his rising stock.

“I think just about playing and giving everything I have,” he said.

“I do not read the newspapers or listen to the radio. I have created a bubble in which I isolate myself, thinking only of my profession.”

Borini, who has scored seven league goals in 15 Serie A appearances for Roma this season, began his career with Bologna in 2001, joining Chelsea in 2009.

He helped Swansea to promotion from the Championship during a three-month loan spell between March and May in 2011.

Wed 29 February, 2012
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Zaccheroni bemoans lack of fitness

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni blamed his players’ poor physical condition for their 1-0 loss to Uzbekistan on Wednesday.

With some Europe-based players, including Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa, arriving as late as Tuesday, a lack of sharpness appeared to be Japan’s downfall in the Asian Football Confederation qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup.

“We’re sorry (about the outcome of the game),” Zaccheroni said.

“We wanted to do better, but when one loses, credit should also be given to the opponent.”

“Uzbekistan were missing some of their starters, but they still showed how good a team they are.”

“We did better in the first half, but they were better in the second half. Still we missed a lot of passes and they won all of the 50-50 challenges.”

“Besides the goal and the counterattacks, they never gave us problems. Still they were very focused and aggressive and never gave us much time to think.”

With players such as Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki hesitating to shoot throughout the night, Zaccheroni said his players needed to be willing to force more opportunities.

“One thing we must improve are shots from outside the box,” he said.

“Many times we had a free player outside the penalty area, but they always tried to get inside instead of shooting.”

“(Takashi) Inui, Okazaki, Kagawa. They need to take some shots.”

Japan have no international fixtures before the final round of World Cup qualifiers begins on June 3, and Zaccheroni said he hoped his players would be in better shape later this year.

“In these three months I just want my players to play as much as possible,” Zaccheroni said.

“The fact that part of our team is based in Europe is of course a difficulty that exists, but we need to learn to live with it.”

“The teams we’ll meet in the next round are almost all physically strong teams, so we need to be ready for that.”

Wed 29 February, 2012
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Ibrahimovic wants Guidetti to shine

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Feyenoord striker John Guidetti has a bright future ahead of him and says his talent must be nurtured.

Guidetti, 19, has been a key player for Rotterdam club Feyenoord since joining on loan from Manchester City at the beginning of the season, scoring 18 goals in 16 Eredivisie matches so far.

The promising forward is expected to make his senior debut for Sweden on Wednesday, partnering Ibrahimovic up front in an international friendly against Croatia.

AC Milan striker Ibrahimovic had some kind words for his compatriot, saying he is confident Guidetti has the potential to go far in football.

“We need to treat this talent with great care,” Ibrahimovic told AD Sportwereld.

“He is still young, but his actions show that he is already very good.”

“Give him time, he has a bright future. Although he will also have to overcome adversity at some point in his career.”

Sweden coach Erik Hamren agreed with Ibrahimovic, echoing his comments that Guidetti must be handled carefully.

“We must ensure that we do not immediately impose too much pressure on this 19-year-old boy.” Hamren said.

Wed 29 February, 2012
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Reus wants to set transfer records

Germany international Marco Reus says he has ‘always dreamed of costing as much as Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho’.

Reus, 22, will join Borussia Dortmund from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach at the end of the season for a reported fee of 17.5 million euros.

Zinedine Zidane’s move from Juventus to Real Madrid in 2001 for 56 million euros is the second most expensive transfer in football history.

Brazil international Ronaldinho commanded a sizeable fee of 32 million euros when he swapped Paris Saint-Germain for Barcelona two years later.

Speaking to Frankfurter Rundschau, promising forward Reus freely admitted he harboured ambitions of one day changing hands for a similar amount.

“This is obviously a lot of money,” he said.

“But I’ve always dreamed of costing as much as Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho.”

“I’m really not close to them. But the sum paid by Dortmund is quite remarkable.”

In a separate interview, Reus explained why he opted for Bundesliga champions Dortmund over fellow heavyweights Bayern Munich.

“Dortmund are more attractive than Bayern,” he told Badische Zeitung.

“And you get a feeling for which coach will help you develop most.”

“Dortmund is not a metropolis, but it is the best place for me from a footballing perspective.”

Wed 29 February, 2012
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Wenger: Oxlade-Chamberlain deserves Euro spot

Arsene Wenger is adamant that Arsenal starlet Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s recent form should see him make England’s Euro 2012 squad.

The former Southampton forward has made a big impression since moving to the Emirates Stadium, already netting in both the Premier League and Champions League in his 15 appearances to date.

“If he continues to play like this I am convinced he will go to Euro 2012,” Wenger told reporters.

Having seen the adverse effect that a major tournament can have on a young player through Theo Walcott, the Frenchman Wenger said he is not worried about his 15-million-pound man, hailing the 18-year-old’s temperament in dealing with the pressure.

“To put him in the team against any opposition, it is just natural for him to be there,” Wenger said.

“For a young player, sometimes they waste a lot of time getting used to the pressure. He looks like he can take it.”

“There are very few players like that, players who look like they have always played in the team.”

Despite being keen for Oxlade-Chamberlain to make the England squad for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, Wenger is also wary of the effects that playing too many games can have at a young age.

He added: “Physically we have to monitor him because, after every game, he can have a little problem.”

“We know now that a large percentage of players who play a lot of games between the ages of 18 and 21 have bony stress responses. I never expected the number to be so high.”

“(It happens) because your skeleton is not completely finished and the bones are not completely developed to absorb the kinds of shocks you get in the Premier League.”

“We have to be cautious about that. But you are always in a trap when the player is as good as he is, like Jack Wilshere is too.”

“You cannot take him out of the team; you have to keep him there. They can win you games.”

Wed 29 February, 2012
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Abramov proud of Uzbeks

Vadim Abramov spoke of the pride he felt for his Uzbekistan team following their 1-0 upset of Japan in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday.

Uzbekistan, who were without five suspended first-team regulars at Toyota Stadium, upended hosts Japan, securing top spot in Group C of Asian Football Confederation qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

“It was a really hard game as expected,” Abramov said in the post-match press conference.

“Both teams played decent football.”

“We counterattacked well and that is why we won.”

Abramov acknowledged his team’s limitations against the more fancied opponents, with Aleksandr Shadrin’s winning goal arriving after one of several counterattacks from the visitors.

“Rather than the football we wanted to play, we played the football that Japan allowed us to play,” Abramov said.

“This is not the only game we won away, we are gradually becoming more confident.”

“There were many young players, so this is a huge boost for our self-confidence. This result will be remembered in Uzbekistan.”

“Had it been a decisive game, they would have played differently. Japan are still the Asian Champions.”

Wed 29 February, 2012
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