Bridges backs Heskey for England recall

Michael Bridges believes Newcastle Jets striker Emile Heskey still has what it takes to earn an England recall.

The former Leicester, Liverpool and Aston Villa striker has made a solid start to his A-League career with four goals in his first four starts – including a bicycle kick as part of a double against Melbourne Victory – and Bridges believes his team-mate could still be a success at international level.

“England’s current number nine is Andy Carroll, and while I certainly have nothing against him, I feel Emile could certainly still offer something for his country again were the chance to arise,” Bridges told reporters.

“He’s done many good things for England in the past and people who understand the game acknowledge that.

“As for playing for England again, personally I would say why not?

“When Emile left England after being released by Villa there were two other Premier League clubs interested in him, but he wanted to try a new adventure and getting him has been a real coup for our club.

“He’s definitely still good enough to thrive in the Premier League, no doubt about it.

“He still has that hunger in his belly and I know he’s been very pleasantly surprised at what the A-League has to offer.”

Former Leeds United striker Bridges also believes Heskey’s decision to leave England will extend his playing career.

“He will only play one game a week, the weather stops the aches and pains from past operations from resurfacing and you are not playing 60 games a season – it’s more like 32 tops,” he said.

“In football terms, he has found a new lease of life. He’s become a hero over here very fast, whereas in England some people always picked on the negatives.

“In Australia the feelings and sentiments couldn’t be more different, and long may that continue.”

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Stramaccioni scoffs at Juve claims

Inter coach Andrea Stramaccioni has laughed off suggestions that Italian officials are deliberately favouring Juventus.

The reigning Serie A champions have had a number of controversial decisions go their way in the opening months of the 2012-13 campaign, most notably a disallowed Catania ‘goal’ at the weekend, but the Inter coach believes there is no truth in any conspiracy theories.

“I haven’t seen anything so far in the league to suggest a pro-Juve bias,” Stramaccioni told the Inter website.

“People took notice of what happened at Catania because there were two decisions which went in favour of one team, but I don’t think there’s any evidence pointing towards a pro-Juve sentiment, aside from the match in Catania.

“In general I haven’t noticed Juve getting any favourable treatment.”

Inter take on Sampdoria on Wednesday, before locking horns with Juve on Saturday.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Pinto dismisses Alaves injury

Barcelona’s Jose Pinto has played down an incident in which he was struck in the head by a missile thrown from the Alaves crowd on Tuesday.

Tito Vilanova’s Barcelona side emerged 3-0 winners from the Copa del Rey encounter at Estadio de Mendizorroza, but in the 51st minute home fans started throwing a range of objects at the visitors, causing an injury to goalkeeper Pinto.

“Yes, I was struck by an object from the stands,” he told reporters after the game.

“I did bleed a little, from my head, but I don’t want to pay it any more attention. The criminal does not deserve any importance.”

The 36-year-old did not need treatment and resumed play shortly after the incident, with goals from David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas the perfect response for the visitors.

The Camp Nou club are next in action on Saturday when they take on Celta Vigo in La Liga.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Real Madrid keeping tabs on German hotshot

Spanish TV station La Sexta has revealed that Real Madrid are closely following Bochum youngster Leon Goretzka.

The talented midfielder has exploded onto the big stage this season and is already considered one of the hottest prospects in German football.

Real Madrid officials have been recently alerted of the player’s potential and club scouts have already watched the player in action on several occasions this season.

Goretzka is currently a captain of Germany Under-17 side, and has led the national team to the second place at the 2012 UEFA Under-17 Championship in Slovenia, scoring two goals at the tournament finals.

The 17-year-old has started 10 of 11 Bundesliga 2 games for Bochum this season and has scored one goal in the process.

In spite of his solid showings, Bochum remain deep in the relegation zone, having taken just 9 points from 11 league games.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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PSG prepare mega offer for Ronaldo and Mourinho; United linked to Lars Bender

PSG prepare mega offer for Ronaldo and Mourinho

Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport understands that Paris Saint-Germain will attempt to sign Real Madrid star duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho in the summer.

Boosted by the heavy summer spending, the Saints are slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with in France, but they will need some more big name signings in order to challenge for European honours.

La Gazzetta dello Sport suggests that the French giants are ready to offer €100 million for Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Saints have already made initial contacts and are reportedly prepared to meet the player’s demands with an €18 million yearly wage.

Ronaldo is currently earning around €10 million and has been offered a new deal worth €14 million per campaign at Santiago Bernabeu.

On top of that, Paris Saint-Germain are eager to lure Jose Mourinho to Parc des Princes, and they have already established first contacts with Jorge Mendes, the agent who represents both Ronaldo and Mourinho.

United linked to Lars Bender

Manchester United are showing interest in Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender, according to Daily Mail.

The Red Devils are somewhat short of options in the centre of the park and Sir Alex Ferguson is still searching for a long-term replacement for Paul Scholes.

Daily Mail understand that Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender is high on Fergie’s hit-list.

The 23-year-old, who began his career at 1860 Munchen, is widely regarded as one of the best holding midfielders in German Bundesliga, while he can also be used as a right-back.

Bender has long ago become an important player for Bayer Leverkusen, while he also has 10 Germany caps to his name.

Since joining die Werkself from 1860 Munchen, the talented midfielder has scored 8 goals in 83 Bundesliga appearances for the club.

Finnish wonderkid drops Liverpool hint

Helsinki striker Joel Pohjanpalo admits he is hoping to make a switch to Anfield one day in the future.

The 18-year-old was long ago spotted by the Liverpool scouts and he even spent one week on trial at Anfield, after which he was offered a three-year deal.

However, the youngster rejected an offer from the Reds in order to remain at Sonera Stadium.

“It was a hard decision to reject Liverpool’s contract offer,” Pohjanpalo said in an interview with local TV station.

“HJK is a good club and there’s a great feeling in this group; I can for example call to our assistant manager in my free time to come and play the ball. I’m sure it would not been possible in Liverpool.”

Pohjanpalo then admitted that he dreamed about playing for Liverpool.

“I don’t know where I’ll be playing next season, but it’s my dream to play for Liverpool FC one day.”

The talented forward has three years left on his deal with Helsinki, but is widely tipped to leave the club for greener pastures next summer.

Despite his fragile age, Pohjanpalo has already scored 44 goals in 55 league games during his professional career.

For more news about football transfers and rumours, visit our Transfer News section. To view all football transfers for 2012/13 season, visit our Soccer Transfers section.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Heynckes: Bayern must remain calm

Jupp Heynckes has stressed Bayern Munich have to remain calm in the aftermath of their first Bundesliga loss of the season on Sunday.

The Bavarians were beaten 2-1 by Bayer Leverkusen after winning their opening eight games, but Heynckes does not believe Sunday’s defeat will have a negative impact on his side in the coming weeks.

“We’re stable and this team is very performance-oriented. I have no concerns,” Heynckes said.

“We need to deal with the situation coolly and not start imagining the worst.

“The team is still entirely in one piece, and will continue to demonstrate as much over the coming weeks.”

Bayern will look to return to winning ways in Wednesday’s DFB Pokal match at home to Kaiserslautern.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Nani planning a summer exit from United

The Telegraph is reporting that Manchester United winger Nani is running out of patience with the club over a new contract and is ready to walk out of Old Trafford at the end of the season.

Nani still has around 18 months left on his current deal, but wants to get a new contract sorted and it is thought that the salary he is asking for and what United are prepared to offer are a long way apart.

The Portuguese international has not been in good form in the English Premier League this campaign either and with Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia to call upon, Sir Alex Ferguson may be prepared to let him leave in the summer transfer window.

Zenit St Petersburg were the team that were keen on signing him back in August and they could now be prepared to revamp their interest at the end of the campaign.

However, the Russian champions spent a huge £32 million for Hulk recently, so a move there could be unlikely.

Italian giants Juventus are thought to be interested, whereas a move back to Portugal to Porto has now been ruled out.

With so much still up in the air, this is a story to keep an eye on.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Gerrard sorry for Everton criticism

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has apologised after criticising Everton for playing long-ball football in the 2-2 Merseyside derby draw.

The England midfielder was frustrated after the Toffees came from two goals down to draw at Goodison Park on Sunday, and felt Everton’s style of play resembled Stoke’s aerial approach.

However, after reviewing the game, Gerrard believes he went ‘too far’ in his criticism of his rivals, confirming he has the ‘utmost respect’ for both David Moyes and Tony Pulis.

“Just to clarify, I’ve watched the game again, and I’ve seen some of Everton’s matches this season, and what I said in relation to their style of play went too far,” he said.

“It wasn’t my intention to disrespect Everton or Stoke for that matter and I certainly didn’t intend any disrespect to their manager or players.

“I have the utmost respect for David Moyes and Tony Pulis and the job they have done at their respective clubs.”

The 31-year-old admitted his reaction was partly down to his anger at Luis Suarez’s late effort being incorrectly ruled out for offside, and feels the Uruguayan has been unfairly treated in recent weeks.

“I was frustrated by the disallowed goal from Luis when I spoke and also some of the things that have been said about Luis in recent weeks which haven’t been fair in my opinion,” Gerrard said.

“As captain I have a duty to stand up for our players when I feel they are unfairly singled out.”

Everton defender Phil Jagielka had earlier responded to Gerrard’s criticism by accusing Brendan Rodgers’ team of ‘passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it’.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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QPR pondering move for Real Madrid defender

Queens Park Rangers are ready to boost their defensive options in the January transfer window by making a move for veteran centre-back Ricardo Carvalho, according to the Metro.

The Portuguese is currently at La Liga champions Real Madrid, but it is thought that manager Jose Mourinho is happy for him to move on in the New Year.

His deal with the Spanish giants runs out at the end of this season, and they have told him that a new-deal is not likely to be offered to him.

Carvalho was a key part of Chelsea’s defence for six years and in that time he won three English Premier League titles. Now, he is wanted back in West London – but by QPR boss Mark Hughes.

Rangers have really struggled in the league so far and Hughes wants to add some experience and quality to a defensive that have conceded 18 goals in nine top flight encounters.

The 34-year-old clearly loved his time in England and now the London club are ready to offer him a 18-month-deal that would bring him to Loftus Road until the end of the 2013/14 campaign.

He would also join up with former Real teammate Esteban Granero and other big name players such as Julio Cesar.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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Walcott to hold new contract talks

A report from the Metro suggests that Arsenal winger Theo Walcott is set to hold new contract talks with the club as the two parties try to agree a deal.

Walcott’s future has been in doubt for while now as he not yet put pen-to-paper, with the Gunners apparently not keen on increasing his current deal which is worth 60,000-per-week. The England international’s current contract runs-out in the summer.

If they do not agree terms by the end of November, it is thought that Arsenal may then put Walcott on the transfer market in January to avoid letting him leave on a free at the end of this English Premier League season.

This is sure to put the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City on red alert as they are all keen on landing the winger. Also, Serie A champions Juventus are a reported admirer and the Gunners would rather sell Walcott overseas, even if it means not cashing-in quite as much.

After his performance in the Capital One Cup against Reading on Tuesday evening, Arsene Wenger is sure to do all he can to keep Walcott at the Emirates Stadium as on his day, he can be unplayable.

Wed 31 October, 2012
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