Soccer

Thursday 31 July 2014

Soccer in brief: McClean earns fans' wrath

Published 11/11/2012|05:00

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REPUBLIC OF Ireland international James McClean, who has been making a name for himself with some standout performances for Sunderland in recent months, stood out for a different reason against Everton at Goodison Park yesterday.

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It appears that McClean was the only player involved in yesterday's Premier League fixtures not to wear a poppy on his jersey -- in stark contrast to his Republic of Ireland teammate Seamus Coleman, who sported one on his Everton jersey in the same game, which finished 2-1 to the home side.

McClean was subsequently the focus of some criticism from fans on social media sites like Twitter.

Lennon's focus still on League

Neil Lennon is disregarding Celtic's recent home drubbing of St Johnstone in the Scottish Communities League Cup ahead of today's meeting in the Scottish Premier League.

The Parkhead side thrashed Steve Lomas' men 5-0 earlier in the month to set up a semi-final appearance against St Mirren at Hampden in January.

However, the former Celtic skipper, still basking in the glory of his side's 2-1 Champions League home win over Barcelona in midweek, remembers that Saints caused an upset when they beat the Hoops at McDiarmid Park in the SPL in September.

"I'm sure Steve will have them well motivated, but we have to adapt ourselves,'' said Lennon. "I want the players to enjoy the aftermath (of the Barcelona result) but it is back to St Johnstone.

"We will try to carry on and play the good football that we have been playing. The SPL is our priority because it is the avenue that gets us into the Champions League in the first place.

"We have taken one point from six in the league and so it is important that we get back to winning ways." Lennon will assess skipper Scott Brown who missed the win over Barcelona due to illness.

Right-back Mikael Lustig should recover from a hip knock but left-back Emilio Izaguirre (hamstring), stopper Thomas Rogne (calf), winger James Forrest (hamstring), and strikers Gary Hooper (hamstring) and Lassad (groin) are all still out.

Fenlon: United a big test for us

PAT FENLON is expecting a tough test when his Hibernian side face in-form Dundee United at Easter Road today, but stresses he believes his squad are equipped to match any team in the SPL.

United drew against champions Celtic last weekend before defeating Motherwell in midweek. As a result manager Fenlon acknowledges a tricky assignment awaits his side.

"At the start of the season I said Dundee United and Motherwell were equipped to challenge Celtic, particularly because they've had settled squads for a couple of seasons now,'' said Fenlon.

"We've gone up against every other side in the division now and Dundee United are the only team that gave us a bit of a lesson in the first game of the season. But we've improved dramatically since then and it's a big test to see how far we've come.''

Tim Clancy is unlikely to be fit for Hibs after a groin injury forced him to miss out against St Mirren.

Alan Maybury is again likely to play in place of his fellow Irishman, while Gary Deegan remains out.

Austin injury stuns Warnock

Neil Warnock was not interested in the result as his Leeds United side were thrashed 6-1 by Watford, admitting he lost interest in the game after seeing midfielder Rodolph Austin suffer a suspected broken leg.

United were a man and a goal down when the Jamaica international fell to the floor amid a melee from the corner, having earlier gone behind to Matej Vydra's opener and lost Jason Pearce to a straight red card.

In response to that, Warnock adopted the cavalier approach of making all three of his substitutions by the time the second half had started so, when Austin was carried off two minutes after the restart, his side had to play the remaining time with nine men.

They were duly run ragged, with Vydra scoring again alongside goals from Abdi, Mark Yeates, Sean Murray and Troy Deeney. Michael Tonge's penalty was Leeds' sole response.

"I'm not devastated about the game but I am about Rudy, he has broken is leg in two places,'' said Warnock. "We had made the subs and I wasn't bothered, I thought the game was irrelevant.''

Evans to miss World Cup tie

Northern Ireland have lost influential defender Jonny Evans for the World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan on Wednesday, with Andy Little and Alex Bruce also ruled out through injury.

While Little (foot) and Bruce (knee) would be unlikely to make the starting XI for the Group F clash, Evans (groin) is one of Michael O'Neill's most important players and was one of the top performers in the side's memorable 1-1 draw in Portugal last month. O'Neill has responded to the withdrawals by adding uncapped Liverpool teenager Ryan McLaughlin and Burnley's Danny Lafferty to his squad.

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