FIFA to meet racism victims

first_imgFIFA’s new anti-racism chief wants to meet the perpetrators and victims of racial abuse in the Premier League as part of a fact-finding mission. Press Association Jeffrey Webb, the president of the CONCACAF federation, is to head up a new FIFA task force to tackle racism and is to come to England to see how the Football Association has responded to the Luis Suarez and John Terry cases. Asked about the two cases, Webb, from the Cayman Islands, said: “It is a huge concern to be honest. During a game for me it is unacceptable, I think the incidents were unacceptable.” center_img He continued: “The FA has been very aggressive in their campaign and I think if these incidents do exist in an environment such as the Premier League then it begs the question what happens in some other leagues where they don’t have the resources and the will and the desire as the English FA has had over the years. “I will be meeting with the FA chairman David Bernstein and visiting the FA. At that time I would also like to meet with some of the players, perhaps have a round-table discussion to talk to the players and get their input, get some suggestions from them and learn from what their experiences are. “Obviously there’s a number of players who have been victimised, targeted. Plus we would like to hear both sides really.” Webb, speaking in Edinburgh at the International FA Board, said he hoped to meet the FA before the end of April, and insisted that black players had been let down by football’s authorities. He added: “We’ve been talking for a long time in football and I don’t really think that we’ve supported the players. I don’t think we’ve necessarily put the right sanctions in place to support them. It’s a travesty that it comes to that. “We as FIFA and the governing bodies have to make sure that players like Kevin Prince-Boateng and all the players around the world have the same rights and opportunities. “I really don’t think that financial instruments in today’s world is enough to deal with it. With the money that’s involved in football today, the fines that are being established, I don’t think they’re working, obviously.” last_img read more

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No deal with City – Pellegrini

first_img It has been reported that the Chilean has been lined up to succeed current City manager Roberto Mancini, whose position at the Etihad Stadium has come under the spotlight following a hugely disappointing season. According to reports, Mancini, whose team lost the FA Cup final to Wigan at the weekend, could even be sacked before the Blues take on Reading on Tuesday night. However, Pellegrini insists he has no deal in place with any club for next season and is currently focused only on trying to help Malaga secure a Europa League place. “I deny here and now being the new coach of Manchester City, I haven’t signed any agreement with anybody,” Pellegrini told Malaga’s official website after their goalless Primera Division draw with Sevilla. “I’ve been fortunate enough, and very proud, that every year the big clubs have shown an interest in me. I have an agreement with Malaga not to talk to anyone and nothing has been agreed with any other club. “I hope in the coming weeks that things will become a little clearer what is going to be the future here at this club.” Malaga have struggled with form since their heartbreaking Champions League quarter-final defeat by Borussia Dortmund, winning two of six Primera Division matches while losing three. Despite that, Malaga are still sixth in the league standings and will be hoping to stay there over the final two games of the season. Even if they do finish in sixth, though, they may not be playing in continental competition next season with a one-year ban from European football hanging over them. UEFA handed out the punishment in December due to the Spanish club’s outstanding debts, but the club are hoping for a reprieve. The former Real Madrid and Villarreal coach added of speculation about his future: “There are a lot of rumours. “The coaching team and players are focused on qualifying the team for Europe. Overcoming the trauma of being knocked out of the Champions League wasn’t easy, but we’re still hoping to qualify for the Europa League.” Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini has denied having an agreement in place to become the next manager of Manchester City.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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McCall happy to escape with win

first_imgSaracens director of rugby Mark McCall was a relieved man after his side had a close encounter with Connacht at the Sportsground before emerging 23-17 victors in the Heineken Cup. Owen Farrell kicked two second-half penalties to complete a personal 13-point tally and steer the Sarries home but the Aviva Premiership leaders had ridden out a frantic finish, with Connacht duo Aly Muldowney and Paul O’Donohoe going close to scoring tries. McCall’s men had started like a train with backs Chris Wyles and Chris Ashton crossing in the opening nine minutes, but Connacht roared back and tries from man-of-the-match Kieran Marmion and Danie Poolman had them level by the break. “But when you get a game that close, there was no doubt that some of the calls were right, but it’s just consistency. “To get a penalty against us for holding on and, in that last play of the game going for a win, if you take a look at the video and have a look at how many (Saracens) guys are offside, in from the side – all the things we were penalised for. “That’s what I struggle with, it really hurts me because I feel for our team. Those guys have given everything and they deserve better.” Sarries had most of the possession and territory in the third quarter, with TMO decisions ruling out lunges for the try-line from George Kruis and Neil de Kock. “It’s an important four points. It was a tough and physical game so I am just happy to come here and take the points,” admitted McCall, whose side reached the semi-finals last season. “Fair play to Connacht, they kicked just about everything tonight and found space in our back field and put us under real pressure when they got their tries and got a real energy from that. “We did not cope with that all that well. We had started the game great and also the start of the second half, and had a couple of chances which we didn’t take, but they defended bravely and had that chance at the end, so I am just grateful to come away with a result. “I thought our team had a lot of energy and there was no lack of effort or urgency, but we didn’t do well with our kicking game and most of the pressure of the game came from that area so I am just happy to come here and get a result. “We know it’s a difficult place.” Meanwhile, Connacht head coach Pat Lam said he was disappointed with the inconsistencies in referee Pascal Gauzere’s decisions which he believes prevented his side from getting a possible upset. He said: “There were big calls at crucial times, but I am so proud of my team particularly up front where the boys were massive. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Barry: Everton perfect for Barkley

first_img Barkley’s rapid rise has attracted the interest of bigger clubs. However Barry, on loan from Manchester City, has been able to watch the youngster at close quarters and believes a long run in the Toffees first team will be hugely beneficial. “The manager has already shown he is not frightened to throw the younger players in if he thinks there is a role in the team and he thinks they have enough ability,” said Barry. “Ross is reaping the benefits at the moment and the more he plays the more confident he will get and the more he will improve. “There are so many positives I can throw at him, for such a young player he is playing a very mature game. “He is strong, quick, has a change of pace and the performances he has shown in the Premier League prove he can deal with the pressure. “But on the other side the manager has already stated you don’t want to put loads of pressure on his shoulders. “You don’t want to build him up too much. I think Everton is the perfect club to be learning his trade and the more he plays the more he learns and he will keep improving while keeping his feet on the ground, which will be ideal for him.” Midfielder Gareth Barry believes Everton is the perfect club for rising star Ross Barkley to continue his development. Press Association Barkley is set to return from international duty and go straight back into the side for Saturday’s visit of Hull but fellow midfielder Steven Pienaar is unlikely to make that game. The South African has been sidelined with a hamstring injury for the last month and is not quite ready to return. “Probably Saturday is a little bit too early but I don’t think he is going to be away for too long now,” Martinez told City Talk. “All the signs have been positive but we have to be careful we don’t push him too early.” Martinez has been using the relatively quiet period during the international break to assess the squad members who have remained on Merseyside. “We have to focus on the players we have here and it gives you an opportunity to look into the injured players and see where they are,” Martinez added. “Steven Pienaar and Antolin Alcaraz (hernia) have made huge progress and they are developing really well. “We have eight players working every day and making sure they use this period as needed: some players need a bit of work, others need a bit of regeneration time and that has been really pleasing. “On the other side you can look at the games and prepare the next period we have until the next international break but it has been very positive for everyone at the club.” The 19-year-old has been handed a key role by manager Roberto Martinez this season and has responded with a string of impressive performances. That has helped him progress into the England senior set-up, winning his first cap last month and retaining his squad place for the national team’s final World Cup qualifiers. last_img read more

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Suarez stars in Liverpool victory

first_img Having had to play catch-up with strike partner Daniel Sturridge in the goalscoring stakes as a result of his 10-match suspension carried over from last season, the Uruguayan is definitely back to full speed. Shortly after the 26-year-old scored a superb first as early as the 12th minute, Reds owner John Henry, watching from his home in America, tweeted “Luis. Magician.” Luis Suarez scored the fourth hat-trick of his Liverpool career as the Reds hammered West Brom 4-1 at Anfield. Suarez picked up the ball in the inside-right channel and skipped past Claudio Yacob before nutmegging Olsson so perfectly the defender was still turning round as the forward beat Boaz Myhill with an angled shot. If that goal was a product of the South American’s nifty footwork his second was more instinctive. Having laid off the ball to Aly Cissokho he continued his run to meet the on-loan Valencia defender’s first-time cross with a bullet header from at least 16 yards out. As he raced away to celebrate even Suarez, not renowned for his aerial prowess, looked slightly surprised that he had scored with his head from that distance. Liverpool should have had the result wrapped up from a well-worked Suarez free-kick to Steven Gerrard in the inside-right channel but when the captain cut the ball back from the byline Martin Skrtel completely fluffed his shot from close range. Yacob, not having the best of games in midfield, then fouled Sturridge – for once being completely overshadowed by his strike partner – but Suarez’s free-kick went just wide. Jordan Henderson, whose movement and powerful running in behind strikers made a mockery of Sir Alex Ferguson’s bizarre criticism of his gait, almost made it three when he curled a shot over after Lucas Leiva, Suarez and Gerrard had combined on the edge of a congested penalty area. West Brom’s first real chance came in added time before the interval when Youssouf Mulumbu’s ball over the top picked out former Liverpool striker Nicolas Anelka who knocked past the advancing Simon Mignolet only for Skrtel to hack into the Kop before the ball crossed the line. That would have given the visitors hope and what they needed to do was come out all guns blazing for the second half. They failed on that count and soon found themselves out of the game. Sturridge bent a free-kick just off target and Suarez had a shot deflected behind before the Uruguayan completed his hat-trick. Gerrard swung in a free-kick from the left and the striker jumped to flick a head and divert the ball into the far corner. Sturridge, who must have already resigned himself to playing second-fiddle, crashed a shot against the bar but the damage had already been done. Even a spot-kick with 25 minutes to go, converted by Morrison after Cissokho had been adjudged by the assistant referee to have fouled Jones, could not alter the outcome as Sturridge’s inch-perfect chip restored the three-goal cushion. It was difficult to argue with that assessment after seeing Suarez ghost past two West Brom players to slot home. By the end of the game there were plenty of more superlatives to use – and that was not even taking into account a superb overhead kick with 10 minutes to go which crashed against the bar. All this against a side with the third-best defensive away record in the league having conceded just two. Suarez’s second and third goals both came from headers, one almost from the edge of the penalty area, to make it 36 goals in his last 46 matches and 57 in 101 Liverpool appearances overall. That is exactly why Henry was so unequivocal in his hard-line stance over the summer when he refused to countenance a sale even after a £40,000,001 bid from Arsenal and complaints from the player about the club reneging on a deal to allow him to join a Champions League club. Even when substitute James Morrison converted from the spot to reduce the deficit, Sturridge ensured the afternoon ended on a high note with a delightful 20-yard chip. Initially it appeared the day may have been one of controversy for Suarez as his ninth-minute fall in the area after tussling with Billy Jones resulted in West Brom captain Jonas Olsson remonstrating with the Uruguayan. It is unlikely that provided any additional motivation for Suarez but within minutes the Baggies’ Swedish centre-back found himself a mere bystander as he was left trailing in the wake of the striker’s brilliance. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Baines happy to escape derby fever

first_img The clash at Goodison Park appears to have taken on even more significance with the Toffees, sixth in the table, just three points behind their second-placed near-neighbours. But in the interim there is an international break and while Baines admits derby fever is beginning to grow it is nice to get away from it all with England. Everton defender Leighton Baines admits his involvement in England’s two friendlies against Chile and Germany will help deflect some of the attention from the impending Merseyside derby. Press Associationcenter_img “When a derby is coming up everyone gets excited and you just want to get out there and do it,” Baines told everton tv. “But we get to switch off from it to some extent because a lot of us go away for quite important games for our countries and hopefully we’ll come back together and get a good result.” Seamus Coleman, who will be linking up with the Republic of Ireland squad, is fully aware of how there seems to be much more riding on this encounter than previous years. “It is a massive game and massive in terms of the table and we’re all looking forward to that,” he said. “There is still the same excitement as my first one. Hopefully we can put on a good show.” Baines believes Everton’s defensive stability has already had a major influence on their season, even if from an attacking point of view they have been frustrated on occasions. Last weekend’s goalless draw at bottom side Crystal Palace was their fourth 0-0 scoreline in the Premier League this season and second in succession. “The positive is back-to-back clean sheets,” he added. “It makes it six in 11 games, which is a decent ratio.” last_img read more

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Midfield options please Arteta

first_img Press Association “We know what to expect. Stoke away is always a tough game,” said Wilshere. “We have to again press them high up the pitch and try to deal with the long balls they are going to play, so when we get the ball, we have to play.” Club record signing Mesut Ozil is expected to shake off the dead leg which kept him out of the Sunderland game, having been given some extra time away to recover. Defender Kieran Gibbs remains a doubt with an injury to a buttock muscle. However, Laurent Koscielny (back) and Nacho Monreal (foot) are expected to be over minor knocks by this weekend. Arteta had returned to the starting XI in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Sunderland following suspension for the Champions League defeat by Bayern Munich, with Mathieu Flamini on the bench. Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who had been in sublime form before a thigh injury sidelined him on Boxing Day, is close to a return – all of which will bolster Arsenal’s selection choices for the run-in. “It helps the team because we can rotate players and we can play differently,” Arteta said on Arsenal Player. “We can play with two [in midfield] and it gives us another option. “No-one has been able to play every game this season. I think the league is getting more demanding, you need a big squad, you can’t afford to have only 11 players.” The imminent return of Ramsey will be a welcome boost for Wenger ahead of a testing run of fixtures next month. To kick off, there is the FA Cup quarter-final against Everton followed by the return leg of their European tie in Germany, not to mention the north London derby on March 16 before showdowns against title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City. A trip to Stoke’s Britannia Stadium is hardly the ideal preparation for a run of games which is likely to shape Arsenal’s season. Midfielder Jack Wilshere, though, maintains the Gunners are ready to meet those challenges head on. While many pundits had confidently predicted a new year collapse, the Gunners trail leaders Chelsea by just a point heading into the final dozen matches of the campaign, although third-place Manchester City hold a game in hand. Much had been made of Arsenal’s lack of attacking back-up for main frontman Olivier Giroud following the season-ending injury to Theo Walcott, but Arsene Wenger certainly has plenty of options in a supporting role. Arsenal’s strength in depth through midfield can give them an edge in the Barclays Premier League title race, according to Mikel Arteta.last_img read more

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Snodgrass ready for survival battle

first_img Norwich reacted to last Saturday’s loss to fellow strugglers West Brom by sacking Chris Hughton and replacing him with youth team coach Neil Adams, who takes charge of his first game at Fulham. The Canaries are five points clear of the drop zone, and Fulham, with five games remaining, and a win at Craven Cottage could be decisive. Robert Snodgrass is ready to go to war for Norwich on Saturday as his side aim to preserve their Barclays Premier League status. Snodgrass gave a similarly rousing and passionate speech last month, with nine games to go, ahead of the loss at Southampton. “There’s so many times we’ve spoken and not put it into action,” Snodgrass added. “I hear too much about what other teams can do. We’ve got players in this team who can hurt teams. “We’ve shown it on a few occasions and it’s up to us now to try to get those men scoring goals, creating chances and hopefully the new gaffer can do it.” Norwich have just two away wins all season and are bidding to end a six-match losing streak on the road with a first win over Fulham since March 1986. With a daunting final four matches against Liverpool at home, Manchester United away, Chelsea away and Arsenal at home, pressure is piled on the Fulham fixture. Snodgrass, who maintains Norwich can beat anyone, added: “People speak about five cup finals. We’ll approach every single game believing we can win the game and it’s our cup final. “There’s no hiding place. Let’s go and have a go.” Adams knows the club intimately and the players must swiftly embrace the new man, according to Snodgrass. “We will move forward and we’re fully behind the new manager as a team,” Snodgrass added. “The new manager’s come in, he’s got his ideas, buy into it fast, roll your sleeves up and let’s have a go.” Hughton released a statement, through the League Managers’ Association, on Wednesday insisting he could keep Norwich in the top-flight and the timing of his departure was questioned. The Norwich players learned of the sackings of Hughton and his assistants Colin Calderwood and Paul Trollope by text message on Saturday and are now looking only forward. “We can’t affect that,” Snodgrass added. “As players you get told last. Then it’s a case of there’s a new person in charge, on you go. “From a players’ point a view, you shouldn’t be giving any more or any less. “You should be giving your all every single day. It doesn’t matter who’s in charge. “Hopefully we can get the new manager off to a winning start on Saturday. “He’s got Norwich in his blood. He knows exactly what it means to the fans and that’s what we should all think about, what it means to this city. “What it means for this club staying in the Premier League and for us, as players, as well. “Some of us might never get that chance again to play there (in the Premier League).” The importance of Saturday’s fixture is not lost on Snodgrass. “It is a battle of who wants it most,” the Scotland winger said. “Who wants to keep their club in the Premier League. I’m relishing it, I can’t wait. “It’s now or never to try to get a result. It doesn’t come any bigger than this. “They’ll come out all guns blazing. I don’t care what way the game is (played), just give every single thing you’ve got. “It’s time for characters, leaders, everything you’ve possibly got. “It’s a time for heroes. I want to be that person. I want to be the person that keeps Norwich in the Premier League. “I want to be part of that. I don’t want to be part of a side that gets relegated.” Press Associationlast_img read more

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Flores dismissal maddens Monk

first_img “The harshest punishment is getting sent off and Chico got sent off.” Swansea now head to Newcastle next Saturday, still needing probably one more win from their last four fixtures to retain their top-flight status. “I’ve told the players that we have shown that desire and attitude not to be beaten,” Monk said. “Unfortunately, we have come away on a couple of occasions with nothing, but I’ve just said to them if we show exactly what we have done for the last four games then we will have no problems. “We are not in a good position. We are not secure, and with four games left that’s not the position you want to be in. It’s in our hands, but we have to do something quickly and get something out of the next game.” Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho opted not to attend his post-match press conference, handing the job instead to assistant coach Steve Holland. “Jose asked me to do it,” Holland said, without offering any further explanation. “It is something I have done a few times this year, and it is something I am more than happy to do it when he asks me.” On the Flores cautions, Holland added: “In my opinion, the two yellow card decisions were crystal clear. “I have seen them both back, and I think the referee was quite clearly correct on both counts. “I think the referee made the decision, and he made the decision correctly. “As to who he speaks to and how long he takes over the decision, you would have to ask him how that works. For sure, ultimately he made the right decision. “It (Swansea away) has always been a difficult fixture for us. “They are a team that is very much based around keeping possession of the ball, and they can frustrate you for long periods because it is difficult to build pressure up against them. “On the back of a Champions League game in midweek, which is emotionally, physically and mentally draining, you always worry about the impact that has on your next fixture. “It is a fantastic three points for us, and very much a case of getting over the line, really.” Ba also scored the winner when Chelsea booked their Champions League semi-final place last Tuesday by knocking out Paris St Germain on away goals, and the title race is now hurtling towards a potential decider when Mourinho’s team visit Anfield in two weeks’ time. “Not much has changed. We are five points clear of Manchester City, and they have two games more to play than us. If Manchester City win all their matches, they finish ahead of Chelsea,” Holland said. “Obviously, it has been a good day for Liverpool, and it looks like being an exciting conclusion to the season. “We have probably got to win all of our games, one way or another. “That’s the likelihood, but we have been facing that task now for a good couple of weeks, certainly on the back of our result at Crystal Palace. I think any leeway we had was eliminated after that result.” Monk cut an exasperated figure on the touchline after Flores received two yellow cards in little more than two minutes, meaning Swansea played over two thirds of the game with 10 men. They were finally undone by Demba Ba’s 68th-minute winner, which kept Chelsea two points behind league leaders Liverpool and Swansea still in relegation danger. Swansea boss Garry Monk was left frustrated and infuriated by defender Chico Flores’ early dismissal in his team’s 1-0 home defeat against Barclays Premier League title contenders Chelsea. “If you go by the letter of the law it is a sending off, but if you do letter of the law every single game then you will get six or seven sendings off a game,” Monk said. “The disappointing thing was that he (referee Phil Dowd) looked like he signalled straight away ‘no’ – as if to signal it didn’t warrant another yellow. “Then their bench and manager surrounds the fourth official and their players surround the referee and then the red card comes later on. “It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? “But I know Phil, and he is an honest guy. I don’t think he responded to the pressure. If he says it was him giving himself time, then it is him giving himself time. But the circumstances make it strange. “It’s not great when people are asking for the ref to dish out a red card, but what can you do. It happens, and you trust that the ref was strong enough to deal with all that.” Assessing Flores’ two cautions, Monk added: “I’m not disappointed in him, but he is an experienced pro and he should have used that experience in that situation. “We have all been in that situation where you have been booked, and especially if it’s early on, you are then treading on a tightrope for the rest of the game. Press Associationlast_img read more

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Rodgers focused only on Reds

first_img While the Northern Irishman went to great lengths to play down any suggestion of a club-versus-country row over the striker he has made his position clear. The 24-year-old was injured in training while on international duty a month ago and has not featured since, missing six matches with a thigh strain. “We agreed it was probably too soon for Daniel to meet up with England, irrespective of whether he was involved this weekend or not. “He hasn’t trained with the team at all since the injury with them and it was probably not the right time to go with them.” While Rodgers insists there is no issue between him and Hodgson when asked whether England’s and Liverpool’s medical departments were at odds with each other he added: “It is not something to be discussed now. “I don’t think the same thing will happen again. From the conversations with Roy they will obviously look at that. “I understand his position where he has only a few days to work with the players and he will probably take away that intensity on that second day but you can still work players, we work players here on the second day, but it needs to be tapered to the individual player.” Even though Sturridge is currently out injured negotiations have begun over a new deal for the striker after his 23 goals last season. “There are talks ongoing with his representatives and there is no more news other than that,” said the Liverpool boss. On Sturridge’s availability this weekend he added: “We’ll have to wait and see.” In Sturridge’s absence, £16million summer signing Mario Balotelli has been thrust even more into the spotlight but his one goal so far – against Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets – represents a poor return. After Wednesday’s Champions League defeat in Basle, the Italy striker marched off the pitch without a second look to the travelling supporters but Rodgers was more concerned with the player’s form. “In terms of his behaviour he is consciously trying to work hard at the aspects of the game of which we demand here in terms of intensity and work-rate,” he said. “In terms of goals he needs to improve, it is as simple as that. “Not just him but any striker is judged on goals and at this moment he hasn’t probably hit the numbers he would want to.” Balotelli was criticised for not touching the ball in the penalty area once in Switzerland but his manager offered some defence. “That is down to the team. You have to get yourself into those areas but it was about the service arriving in and our quality last night wasn’t to the standard. “But you also have to be able to score and create goals yourself as a front player and he didn’t do that. “Confidence is a little bit low in the team and it can become about the individual but that isn’t what we are about. “This club is about the whole function of the team and when we work to that principle that is when we are at our best.” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admits he is not interested in thinking about Daniel Sturridge’s return for England until he is fit enough to play for his club. Rodgers complained in the aftermath that the player should been given greater time to recover but England coach Roy Hodgson, in naming his squad for his upcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers and omitting Sturridge, claimed if he had to give players two days’ off there would be no point in training at all. The pair spoke on Wednesday and agreed to leave out the player, who is still not certain to return for this weekend’s visit of West Brom, for this round of matches but there remains a disagreement over how the striker should be handled in the future. “I’ve not spoken to Daniel (about the situation). My focus is on Liverpool, it is not on England,” Rodgers said. “I spoke to him about being available for Liverpool but I can’t think about England when he is not ready to play for Liverpool. “He’s had a grade one injury for four weeks, which is a long time, and my focus is now getting him to play for Liverpool. “I’ve had good communication with Roy. It was amicable. There is no issue. “We spoke at length yesterday on the situation and I said to him ‘Every individual player is different’. “I respect he had work to do internationally but my thoughts are with Liverpool players and what their needs are. Press Associationlast_img read more

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