Saturday 18 November 2017

In brief: McCarthy keeping faith

Mick McCarthy believes his Wolves players have the mental strength to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Wolves are three points adrift of safety as they approach a derby double header -- at home to Birmingham today and then away to West Brom next weekend.

But McCarthy has faith in his squad to handle the pressure. "I hate being in the bottom three and I'm not comfortable being there," the former Republic of Ireland boss said.

"But I can cope with it because we have still got so many games to play and we have been playing well. I also have no worries about the players. They have certainly got the character and spirit within the squad.

"That has never been in doubt, never been in question, as far as I am concerned. You want to defend ugly, you want clean sheets and you want to be resilient. We will be fine."

Wolves have a number of players battling to be fit, with defender Steve Mouyokolo definitely out with a back problem. Midfielders Matt Jarvis, Dave Jones and Michael Mancienne are all doubtful with knee injuries. In addition, striker Steven Fletcher is struggling with a virus.

Allardyce keen to sink Bolton

Sam Allardyce is still treated like a hero in Bolton but he will be looking to make it a miserable day today for the club where he made his name as manager.

The Blackburn boss enjoyed doing the double over his former club last season and is aiming to repeat the trick at the Reebok today.

Under Allardyce, Bolton reached the heights of qualifying for Europe, but there was acrimony with Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside when he departed.

Allardyce insists, however, his achievements there will live with him forever. "The great memories I hold for Bolton are never going to leave me," he said. "I took them to the land they had never been before and I don't think they will ever forget that. Certainly I won't."

A win would send Blackburn above their local rivals. Martin Olsson and Nikola Kalinic are back in contention but Steven Nzonzi (hamstring), Vince Grella (Achilles) and Keith Andrews (groin) all remain sidelined.

Mowbray hails Boro troops

Middlesbrough boss Tony Mowbray hailed his makeshift side's spirit as they climbed out of the Championship drop zone with a 1-0 Riverside Stadium win over high-flying Cardiff.

Boro, whose back-line had to cope with the absence of suspended centre-back David Wheater, got their only goal through a first-half Julio Arca penalty, converted after after Gabor Gyepes brought down Marvin Emnes in the box.

"The players put in an amazing shift of 90 minutes and I am delighted," Mowbray said.

"Cardiff are a quality side and with their extra man in midfield and their pace going forward we had to work very hard and we did. We never wavered, especially in the last 20 minutes when they piled on the pressure.

"It is nice to get the win but it is about fine margins. We have played well in recent games and not got the rewards. Now we have to build on it."

Smith leaps to Miller defence

Rangers manager Walter Smith absolved Kenny Miller of any blame after his penalty miss cost the Gers the chance to leave Inverness with all three points.

The Scotland striker's 57th-minute strike cancelled out Jonny Hayes' 31st-minute opener for Caley Thistle.

However, Miller passed up the chance to clinch victory for the visitors eight minutes from time after Stuart Duff was adjudged to have felled James Beattie, Inverness goalkeeper Ryan Esson saving.

The 1-1 draw moved Rangers three points clear of Celtic at the top, but the gap could have been more had Miller converted from spot.For Smith, though, there was no blame attached to his frontman.

"People who take penalties put themselves up for it, so you have to be prepared that they are going to miss them once or twice," he said. "Kenny has been in fantastic goalscoring form for us, so I can't have any complaints."

Cordoba eyes World comfort

South American commitment to the club world title could help Rafa Benitez keep his job at Inter Milan, according to Colombian defender Ivan Cordoba.

"There are so many South Americans in our team that the will [to win] is there," he said yesterday ahead of the Club World Cup, which starts on Wednesday.

South American sides traditionally showed more interest than their European rivals in the former Intercontinental Cup and that perception remains with the competition in the current format.

Benitez has been under intense pressure since replacing treble-winning coach Jose Mourinho at Inter this season and the Club World Cup is seen as make-or-break time for the Spaniard.

Club president Massimo Moratti suggested after a 3-0 defeat at Werder Bremen in the Champions League on Tuesday that he would review Benitez's position after the tournament.

Sunday Independent

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