Sport Soccer

Monday 18 December 2017

Bob Bradley: Fernando Llorente still has future at Swansea

Spain striker Fernando Llorente has had a difficult start to his Swansea career
Spain striker Fernando Llorente has had a difficult start to his Swansea career

World Cup winner Fernando Llorente has been told he has a Swansea future despite being dropped from the squad last weekend.

Llorente failed to make the 18-man squad for the 1-1 draw at Everton with Swansea manager Bob Bradley pointing to the £5million summer signing's lack of mobility.

The Spain striker's agent, his brother Jesus, was then quoted in the Italian media as saying that "things aren't going well" at Swansea for Llorente, and that he had suffered from a change of manager as Bradley's predecessor Francesco Guidolin had signed him from Sevilla.

Llorente's brother even refused to rule out a January return to Serie A where the 2010 World Cup winner had a successful spell at Juventus between 2013 and 2015.

But Bradley was quick to dismiss that suggestion, even though the 31-year-old again looks set to miss out when bottom-placed Swansea host fellow strugglers Crystal Palace in a crunch Premier League game on Saturday.

"Fernando has a future here, he is a good man," said Bradley, who opted to play Gylfi Sigurdsson in a false nine role at Goodison Park with strikers Borja Baston and Oliver McBurnie on the bench.

"I had a very good conversation with Fernando when I told him he would not be in the squad for the Everton game.

"Before he arrived he'd had a stretch of injuries. He got here, he's had some little knocks and I just told him. I've watched him plenty.

"I felt we'd made strides with him physically, but he still wasn't where he needed to be.

"I felt his response to all that was playing with a little less mobility, and I think Fernando's best games in the past have not been about him being a target man.

"I felt that specifically against Stoke and Man United. I felt as a team, we didn't do a good job of how we used Fernando - and I don't think Fernando did a good enough job of moving in those games, of challenging defenders with his movement.

"I don't think it's hard for Fernando to hear because he's honest to himself. When he's not in his best form or fitness, he knows that.

"There's still a higher level to come from him."

Llorente has scored only once in 10 Swansea appearances and goals have been a problem for a side who have not won since the opening day of the season.

Only Hull and Middlesbrough have scored fewer than Swansea, but a first home win of the season would lift some of the gloom which has engulfed the club and cut the gap on Palace to two points.

Palace have lost five successive games to pile the pressure on Eagles boss Alan Pardew.

"Every team has to go through tough stretches in the Premier League, it's an unforgiving league and it's how you deal with those moments," Bradley said.

"There is always pressure, that is part of the deal. I came here knowing the situation.

"But the players know me by now. I will stick up for them every second but they also know I expect a lot.

"We are all in agreement now that things have turned around, but the final part is to make sure that it turns up on match day."

Press Association

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