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Cushions found 'likely' from soccer star's plane

Cardiff City players now fear flying after Sala’s disappearance

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Emiliano Sala had been en route to new club Cardiff City. Photo: Thibalt Camus

Emiliano Sala had been en route to new club Cardiff City. Photo: Thibalt Camus

Emiliano Sala had been en route to new club Cardiff City. Photo: Thibalt Camus

The Emiliano Sala plane tragedy has left Cardiff City players fearing forthcoming flights, defender Sol Bamba said yesterday as suspected pieces of wreckage washed up on the French mainland.

Crash investigators are poised to launch a seabed search after indicating the single-engined aircraft came down somewhere off the coast of Surtainville, on the Cotentin Peninsula.

Meanwhile, Cardiff players have been talking to psychologists to help cope with a situation that Bamba described as a "big tragedy" that has affected the entire club. Manager Neil Warnock's side played their first match since Sala's disappearance on Tuesday, producing a battling performance in a 2-1 defeat by Arsenal.

"It is very difficult to even describe how the players are feeling," said Bamba. "It is a very unusual situation, a big tragedy. We have all been affected by it, the lads, the city, the whole club. We have had some help.

"We travel by plane and some of the lads have been thinking 'I don't want to go on it any more'. It was that deep. The gaffer has been good and the club have been good in terms of bringing someone in to talk to if we need to. And I think some of the lads do, they need to get it out."

Bamba had been tasked by Warnock with helping convince Sala to sign for Cardiff from Nantes. He said that it had already felt like Sala was part of the team following his £17m (€19.4m) move.

Cardiff's return to Premier League action came as crash investigators were given a new lead in the search for the single-engine Piper PA-46-310P Malibu.

Cushions from two seats believed to belong to the plane were discovered on a beach about 30km from the last known position of the aircraft.

The UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch identified a "priority search area" of about four square nautical miles, where it believes the wreckage may lie. A Ministry of Defence salvage and marine operations team has been brought in to locate the plane, but the operation is being delayed by poor weather.

The Piper Malibu, piloted by part-time gas engineer David Ibbotson, disappeared over the English Channel on January 21 after leaving Nantes in France for Cardiff. It requested to descend then lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.

Irish Independent