Sport Soccer

Monday 18 December 2017

McGeady eager to repay Martinez's faith as Baggies set to defy sponsors and play Anelka

Aiden McGeady
Aiden McGeady

Jamie Holland

EVERTON manager Roberto Martinez may have been interested in Aiden McGeady for over a year but the Ireland international knows that he has plenty of work ahead of him if he is to win a regular place in the Toffees' starting line-up.

The 27-year-old was close to joining the Spaniard at Wigan last season only for the move to falter but a year on Martinez has finally got his man -- albeit for Everton.

McGeady spent last week at the club's camp in Tenerife having completed his transfer from Spartak Moscow and, having not trained since November, the former Celtic winger knows he has a lot of catching up to do.

"He (Martinez) has been quite vocal in that he has been after me for while. It is good to know a manager likes you so much and that was a big pro for me," he said.

"Also the way he sets his team up and the way they play can hopefully get the best out of me so I'm looking forward to getting started.

"I am probably not ready to be involved in a game yet, but if the manager feels that I have a part to play, I will do my best."

McGeady believes he has joined a team capable of securing Champions League football, and victory at the Hawthorns tonight would keep their bid on track.

Having spent several years in Russia, McGeady is relishing being involved in a more high-profile competition.

"It is a step up -- it is one of the top leagues in the world and everyone wants to play in it," he said. "It's a big challenge but I'm looking foward to it."

Meanwhile, West Brom are poised to defy sponsors Zoopla and include Nicolas Anelka in their squad for tonight's match.

Albion have been warned to axe Anelka after the controversial quenelle gesture, with a verdict from the English FA likely to be announced in the next 48 hours.

Zoopla, the property website part-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, have put pressure on the club to drop the former France international or face the prospect of their £3m sponsorship deal being ripped up.

However, Albion are reluctant to allow the company to dictate team selection, despite the storm surrounding the FA's investigation, and Anelka is understood to have trained yesterday in preparation for the game at the Hawthorns.

The FA is expected to charge the 34-year-old early this week and could punish him with a minimum five-game ban under new rules on discriminatory behaviour.

Anelka's gesture, after his goal against West Ham in December, has been described by critics and Jewish organisations as a "Nazi salute in reverse", and the FA has been coming under ever increasing pressure to reach a resolution.

The FA could issue a statement today, although it is far more likely to announce the verdict after the match tonight as it does not want to risk being accused of damaging Albion's preparations.

Pepe Mel's first game in English football has been overshadowed by the row and Albion are in urgent need of a victory, with only three points separating them from the relegation zone.

Romelu Lukaku is poised to play at the Hawthorns for the first time since his impressive loan spell with West Brom last season.

Lukaku was signed for the season by former Baggies boss Steve Clarke and scored 17 Premier League goals, returning to Chelsea seemingly destined for the first team under Jose Mourinho.

However, Mourinho surprisingly allowed him out on loan to Everton hours before the transfer window closed.


Irish Independent

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