Sunday 4 December 2016

In brief: Mancini hails Milner quality

Published 01/05/2011 | 05:00

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has told James Milner he could still have a key role to play in the remaining weeks of the season. Milner has found himself marginalised as the club bid for a place in the Champions League for the first time and aim to lift the FA Cup.

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However, Milner could have a part to play at home to West Ham today after some comforting words from Mancini.

"James is disappointed he has not played in the last two games, but I trust James," Mancini said. "He is an incredible midfielder. We have another five games and the final and he will be an important player in this time. We must take it step by step. Now we have West Ham and our focus will be only on that game." Mancini will again be without injured pair Carlos Tevez and Micah Richards (both hamstring), as well as Jerome Boateng (knee).

McCarthy demands more

Mick McCarthy admits Wolves may struggle to attain the points needed for Premier League survival if there is any repeat of their dismal midweek performance at Stoke. Wolves were beaten 3-0 to remain in the bottom three and have collected only one point from the last four games, conceding 11 goals in the process.

The plus point for McCarthy is that Wolves remain just two points off safety as they gear up for today's clash with fellow strugglers Birmingham at St Andrew's.

"It is a huge game for the pair of us, neither team has been flying or playing great," said McCarthy. "They had a beating against Liverpool. We both need the points but us more than them, I might add. We are going to have to play a damn sight better and I am sure they will."

Rangers keep pressure on

Rangers threw down the gauntlet to Celtic in the Scottish Premier League title race by cruising to a 5-0 win at Motherwell yesterday.

Kyle Lafferty, Steven Davis and Nikica Jelavic grabbed a goal apiece and Steven Naismith claimed a brace as the Scottish champions stretched their lead at the summit to four points -- the Hoops have two games in hand.

"Winning games is on our mind more than anything else," said Rangers manager Walter Smith.

"We need to keep winning. In recent weeks we've had spells in games where we've played exceptionally well. If the goal difference comes into being it comes into being."

Lennon expects further drama

Following Rangers' win, the onus is on Celtic to respond to the pressure against Dundee United today and make the most of their game in hand at Inverness in midweek.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon is looking forward to another enthralling match at Celtic Park -- the Hoops have won two of the previous three league encounters between the sides this season and all have produced excitement and drama.

"I think it will be a tough game but it will be open," he said. "If previous encounters are anything to go by, it should be an exciting game."

French racial row rolls on

The French Football Federation's (FFF) national technical director Francois Blaquart has been suspended amid a row over an alleged project to enforce racial quotas in youth academies. An FFF source was quoted as saying that Blaquart proposed to enforce racial quotas to limit the number of players of black or Arab origin in youth academies.

It was alleged that national coach Laurent Blanc was involved in a debate over players with dual nationality groomed in France eventually opting to play for their country of origin.

Blanc has often raised the issue of dual nationality players but denied being in favour of quotas in youth academies. "No such project has been revealed to me. It's a lie," he said.

"You cannot have quotas in football. It does not exist. Football is made of diversity."

Real and Barca suffer defeats

Real Madrid suffered a shock 3-2 home loss to relegation-threatened Real Zaragoza to all but end their slim hopes of catching Barcelona in the La Liga title race.

Goals from Sergio Ramos and Karim Benzema couldn't prevent defeat at the Bernabeu as Jose Mourinho suffered his second league loss at home inside a month after a nine-year unbeaten run.

Barcelona missed the chance to move 11 points clear after going down to a surprise 2-1 reversal at Real Sociedad last night, with goals from Diego Ifran and Xabi Prieto sealing the win.

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund claimed the Bundesliga title yesterday as they beat Nuremberg 2-0 and rivals Bayer Leverkusen lost 2-0 at Cologne.

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