The 30-year-old striker arrived at St Mary’s from Bristol Rovers in 2009 and has helped the club rise from npower League One to the Barclays Premier League. Lambert, who has scored 99 goals for the club, is the highest English scorer in the Premier League this season, leading to reported interest from others. However, the Liverpudlian has quashed such talk, saying he would like to end his playing days at the south coast club. “My family are happy here and I am very happy,” Lambert told The Sun. Press Association “It has been a special three-and-a-half years and I would love to finish my career at Southampton. “The club’s ambitions are very high. Southampton is going to be an exciting place over the next few years.” Rickie Lambert wants to stay at Southampton for the rest of his career.
The Royals crashed to a 2-1 defeat to fellow strugglers Aston Villa that leaves them above bottom-placed QPR on goals scored only. McDermott’s men had begun the day able to climb out of the bottom three with a win and had led thanks to a calamitous Nathan Baker own goal on the half-hour. But they failed to cash in on their luck as Christian Benteke levelled two minutes later before Gabby Agbonlahor profited on hesitant defending to thump in the winner in first-half injury time. The full-time whistle was greeted by boos and, with trips to Manchester United and Arsenal next up, McDermott said: “We’re hurting. We are very much hurting at this moment in time.” Reading boss Brian McDermott admitted his side were hurting after their survival hopes suffered a significant blow for the second successive home match. He added: “It was disappointing to say the least. It was rough. When we got 1-0 up I though we were ready to kick on. We didn’t do that and that’s cost us. “We were disappointed with both goals. We’ve got ourselves into the lead and they’ve scored virtually straight after. We have to hold our hands up. We need to be better and see the game out. I know that and the players know that.” A fourth league defeat on the spin was made worse by QPR’s 3-1 win over Sunderland to leave the Royals looking as the most vulnerable of the bottom clubs. Trips to Old Trafford and Emirates Stadium before the end of the month could start to leave Reading adrift with just nine games left. “They’re not friendly (fixtures). They are big, big clubs in Manchester United and Arsenal,” McDermott said. “We’ll see where we are at the end of March and then go from there.” Villa boss Paul Lambert was full of praise for his side, especially Baker, after he recovered from his red-faced moment to help inspire a win to haul them three points clear of danger. The 21-year-old defender completely missed a routine clearance before the ball hit his standing leg and bounced over the line. “I thought Nathan Baker was exceptional,” he said. “He has been for the past number of weeks since I’ve put him at left-back. It was important his head never went down which it didn’t. Being young the slight thing in my head was how he reacted. I’ve got to give him so much credit.” Press Association
Press Association The 74-year-old Italian said: “Sure. I said ‘probably’ yesterday, but after this performance – it was important to see him in contact with the opponent – I think against the Faroes, he will be 90 per cent on the pitch.” That would complete an astonishing turnaround for Dunne, who has admitted he feared his career could be over as he underwent three bouts of surgery in a bid to solve a persistent groin injury. Trapattoni has been cautious over one of his key performers since welcoming him back into the squad in London last weekend, but he will have few qualms in naming him in his starting line-up. Indeed, his reluctance to confirm that Dunne will definitely start was the result of a general rather than a particular concern. He added with a smile: “Yesterday evening, the players finished the game and I let them go free. Today, I won’t see them. I am not a magician, I have to wait. When he comes back, I will call him and the rest of the team. “Maybe two or three come back after the day off, they drink beer, they go out with their wife and an accident happens. I hope not, but maybe. I can’t say to you now ‘100 per cent, yes’. Ninety per cent, yes. When they are here, I will be clear.” Ireland must beat the Faroes if they are to keep alive their hopes of snatching the runners-up spot in Group C ahead of Austria and Sweden. Richard Dunne is “90 per cent” certain to start Friday night’s World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands after a remarkable return to prominence. The 33-year-old had not played any football for either club or country this season until he was introduced as a second-half substitute during Sunday night’s 4-0 friendly victory over Georgia. However, having seen him confirm his fitness following a 12-month injury lay-off, both in training and during his 25-minute cameo at the Aviva Stadium, manager Giovanni Trapattoni is ready to pitch him straight back into competitive action.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez is confident his team can deal with Liverpool’s fearsome forward pairing. Strike duo Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge head into this weekend’s Merseyside derby at Goodison Park having scored 18 goals between them in all competitions. Martinez is well aware of the danger they pose but is concerned mainly about getting his own side’s approach right rather than formulating a specific plan to nullify them. He said: “We haven’t been scoring goals due to certain aspects that we need to work on but the way we have been getting in the final third has been fantastic. That is where the excitement comes. “We are very close to getting into a position where we can control games and score goals at the end of it. “We see it as a normal process we need to get through rather than something that is lacking.” Both Merseyside clubs have started the season well with the Reds just two points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Arsenal after 11 games and Everton three points further back. Because of that Martinez knows there is more than local bragging rights at stake in the 221st clash between the neighbouring clubs, particularly when the weekend’s other fixtures are taken into account. Elsewhere Arsenal host third-placed Southampton and Manchester City, eighth, taken on Spurs, seventh. Martinez said: “This could be a very significant game. There are other clashes between teams in the top seven and that makes it a very interesting weekend. “It makes it an opportunity we want to take. We want to get away from the feeling of just fighting for the Merseyside rights. “It goes a little bit further than that and making sure it is a strong start to the season.” Martinez will be experiencing the intensity of the derby for the first time and, because of the emotion surrounding the fixture, he does not anticipate having difficulty motivating his players. Indeed, having had little time to work with his squad this week due to internationals, he sees holding players back as one of his tasks. He said: “It is difficult in international week to have a normal week preparing for a big game but I think we are used to it. It is not a one-off situation. “But maybe it is easier to prepare for a derby after the international break than any other game because the players come back fully focused. “Even when on international duty they start thinking about the game. They know the derby is around the corner. “I have realised after five months at the club how much this fixture means to the fans. I am well aware. “But the important aspect from our point of view is to make sure we are ourselves in the game – we don’t get affected by the occasion, we don’t play the derby, we play the game and we realise that the three points are important enough to be concentrating on, and that will look after the whole occasion by itself.” Press Association The Spaniard said: “They have had a very good start to the season, they are very influential in their team. “From that partnership up front, they have got a real goalscoring threat. “You do see why Liverpool have been successful this season, it is not an accident. I do feel they are a strong side. “But as a team, you are always used to coping with threats of the opposition. “Not long ago we had a very good team full of individuals here – Spurs – and we dealt with them really well. “It is more about what we can do and how we can perform in the derby rather than being worried about what the opposition can bring.” Everton’s current strength appears to be their defence, which has not conceded in their last three outings. On the downside they have not scored in their last two matches either – goalless draws against Tottenham and Crystal Palace – but Martinez is not overly concerned about that.
Mourinho’s methods have seen Juan Mata, Chelsea’s player of the year in each of the past two seasons, marginalised this term, while Kevin De Bruyne has struggled to claim a first-team place. De Bruyne is known to want to move on a permanent basis this month and his agent was on Monday pictured in Abu Dhabi, where Wolfsburg are training during the Bundesliga’s winter break. Mata has been told the door is open if he wishes to discuss his future, but Mourinho wants both players to stay and compete for their places. Mikel warned anyone not prepared to adapt to Mourinho’s ways will not play and cited the work ethic of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian of examples of players prepared to do as they are told. “He always wants us to play in a certain way and give 110 per cent,” Mikel added. “If you don’t, you’re out. “As a player that’s what you want. You don’t want to slack. “That’s the mentality he wants in this team and slowly but surely the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian are beginning to do that. “You can see by the way we press up the pitch. That is important for the team and we’re doing well.” Mikel is firmly allied to Mourinho, who praised the discipline of the Nigeria midfielder after the Derby win, which saw him net a fourth Chelsea goal on his 300th club appearance. “He’s like a manager-player, because he does exactly what you tell him to do in terms of position,” Mourinho told Chelsea TV. “His qualities are not, for sure, scoring goals. Tactically he’s very clever. He knows where he has to be, gives great balance to the team. “He’s one of these players normally called ‘invisible’ players. “They do the job and many times they don’t get the recognition (they deserve).” Mourinho’s men are well placed to win silverware this season and Mikel, signed by Mourinho during the manager’s first spell, believes it is imperative his team-mates understand that winning every game matters to Chelsea, after recent seasons where the Blues’ focus has slipped in some competitions. “If you don’t play for Chelsea, you don’t know what these trophies mean to this club,” Mikel said. “It’s not a team where if you come second, third or fourth, it doesn’t matter. No. “Every year you have to win something and this is the pressure. “It’s a matter of letting them know what it means when you come to the end of the season, what the Premier League and Champions League means to this club. “Now they’re here, they have to feel the pressure and they are feeling it right now. “That’s why we just want to keep doing well and now they’re starting to understand that we don’t want to get beaten. “We just want to keep going and hopefully come the end of the season they will start to show the winning mentality even more that the manager is trying to install into them and we go on from there and win trophies.” Chelsea won the 2012 Champions League and 2013 Europa League, but finished 25 and 14 points adrift in the Premier League in the last two seasons and have won the championship once since Mourinho’s departure, in 2009/10. Just eight members of that squad remain. Since the extra-time Capital One Cup quarter-final loss at Sunderland, Chelsea have won four of their five games, conceding one goal, in a productive festive period. The Blues are third in the Premier League, two points behind leaders Arsenal, and play Stoke in the fourth round of the FA Cup after a 2-0 win at Sky Bet Championship promotion hopefuls Derby on Sunday. Press Association John Obi Mikel believes Jose Mourinho is beginning to instil a winning mentality into Chelsea’s players, who are starting to realise that second is not good enough for the Blues.
“He (Long) is having a medical as we speak. You’re never 100 per cent sure but we would hope if he has gone for a second lot of scans, we’re as close as we can be,” Bruce said. “We’ve got everything in place, so we just need him to sign and that is that. “Discussions on personal terms are ongoing. We think we’re close in that department, too. “Hopefully the medical is all right, hopefully personal terms are agreed and we have something for you tonight or tomorrow morning.” Bruce’s priority in the transfer window was to increase his side’s goal threat, with his current batch of strikers far from prolific. On-loan Sunderland man Danny Graham has found the net just once, as has the injured Sone Aluko, with summer recruit Yannick Sagbo netting twice. Despite being on the lookout, Bruce was surprised at the quality of player he has been able to bring to the club. “It’s been no secret that even last year we got promoted with a top scorer on nine goals,” he said. After a relatively prudent summer recruitment drive, Tigers boss Steve Bruce has moved emphatically to add to his squad’s firepower, with Jelavic’s club-record signing confirmed on Wednesday and Long set to follow after terms were agreed with the Baggies. The fees attached to both players could rise past £7million, each breaking the £5.25million club record that brought Tom Huddlestone to the KC Stadium last summer. West Brom striker Shane Long is edging closer to joining Nikica Jelavic at Hull after undergoing a medical at the club. “It’s always been something that if and when the right person became available, could we get them? With the start we’ve had we’ve been able to get someone in Jelavic who 12 months ago wouldn’t have been possible. “We’ve got players who are willing to do all sorts but not really be a goalscorer, so when the chance came to get him we’ve acted. “Thankfully he has chosen us after a few long discussions, I have to say. It’s an excellent signing for us. “As I’ve said repeatedly in January good players don’t become available that often.” Jelavic, who was unveiled at the KC Stadium on Thursday and goes straight into the squad for Saturday’s match at Norwich, has vowed to repay Bruce’s faith. Having struggled for game time at Everton in recent months, and without a league goal this term, he needs to find his form to seal his place in Croatia’s World Cup squad. “I’m under pressure straight away. But I’m a striker, I need goals and I will score goals, I know that,” he said. “I just need some games. It’s a decent club and I think I can help the team. I’m delighted to sign here. “My move from Everton to here was because of the national team as well. This summer is the World Cup and I have to play if I want to be involved with the team. “I’ll try to score as many goals as I can and show to the national team manager that he can count on me.” The arrival of Jelavic and pursuit of Long spell the end of Egyptian forward Gedo’s time at Hull, with the club confirming that his season-long loan from Al Ahly had been cut short. Aaron McLean’s expected transfer to Sky Bet League One side Bradford has also been concluded on a busy day for the Tigers.. Despite being the bearer of good news on the transfer front, Bruce was also forced to confront a familiar source of ill-feeling after owner Assem Allam again angered fans this week by pledging to walk away if his controversial ‘Hull Tigers’ rebranding plan is not approved by the Football Association. For the manager, though, the Egyptian businessman has proved his commitment with actions rather than words. “I’ve sat here and unfortunately we’ve talked about this before. It’s disappointing in the week where we should all be hailing the chairman and the work he’s done that we’re talking about something that will hopefully go away,” he said. “I don’t think it will for the time being but hopefully it will. For all his doubters I think this week has proved what the club actually means to him. He doesn’t have to make any more statements than what he has just done. “The most important thing for me is the two players we are bringing in to wear the shirt, who will significantly add to the squad and make us better and bigger and hopefully keep us in this division for the next few years at least.” Press Association
Wayne Rooney committed his future to Manchester United and then pledged to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford. Rooney finally ended speculation regarding his future on Friday when he signed a four-year contract extension worth a whopping £300,000 a week. With 18 months left on his previous deal some of Europe’s top clubs began to take a keen interest in the England striker, but he has now committed his future to United until the end of the 2018-19 season. “I’m very happy to have signed a new long-term contract with Manchester United,” Rooney told his official website. “This is one of the biggest clubs in the world and to know that I will be playing here for the majority of my career is something that I’m looking forward to. “I’m happy that everything is now finalised and I can carry on concentrating on my football.” It was thought that Moyes’ chequered history with Rooney would hinder the club’s chances of renewing the contract of their star striker. Moyes successfully sued Rooney for claims he made about the Scot in his autobiography in 2006, but the pair have since buried the hatchet. Indeed the pair have built up a successful working relationship since Moyes took over the United hot-seat last summer and Rooney is convinced that the former Everton manager remains the right man to maintain the success that Sir Alex Ferguson brought to the club during his 26 years in charge. United may be 11 points adrift of the top four with 12 games left, but the possibility of missing out on the Champions League has not put Rooney off signing what may end up being the final contract of his career. “I know that’s what some thought but it’s not a massive concern for me,” Rooney said. “This is because I know the direction that this club is going in, and if we don’t make it this season then we will come back stronger and claim a Champions League spot next season. “Let’s not forget we still have a chance this year, some of the other teams are playing well but we have a strong squad here and if we have a positive end to the season then who knows what can happen?” United’s best hope of qualifying for the Champions League may be through winning the competition just as Rooney did in 2008. To bring back such glory days as those United have some major rebuilding to do. Moyes started that process last month when he smashed the club’s transfer record to sign Juan Mata from Chelsea for £37.1million and Rooney signing a new deal is another boost for the Scot. Confirmation from Ed Woodward, the club’s vice-chairman, that Moyes will be handed significant funds this summer, also appears to have helped persuade Rooney to remain at Old Trafford. “The future is bright for Manchester United,” Rooney said. “This is still one of the world’s leading clubs. We have seen this with the signing of Juan Mata in January. “People have been saying we may have trouble attracting the world’s best players but I think the fact Mata came here shows this isn’t true. “This is a new era for the club, we have a new management team and a great new manager in David Moyes, there has to be some time for change. “We have some great players here and despite our recent form everyone has stuck together and the team spirit is still good, we will continue to work hard and get Manchester United to the top where it belongs.” Rooney denied that he had demanded to become captain or had sought assurances on the club’s future transfer targets before signing. The fact that he has pledged his allegiance to United when so many clubs were interested in him has helped his chances of succeeding Nemanja Vidic as captain a lot, however. Rooney also found time to thank the fans, whom he said were key in his decision to sign the new deal. United supporters hold Rooney in high regard despite the fact that he asked to leave the club in 2010 and – according to Sir Alex Ferguson – again last season. Rooney has always denied he submitted a second transfer request. By the time his contract at United ends, Rooney hopes to have broken Sir Bobby Charlton’s club record of 249 goals. Rooney is fourth in United’s all-time top scorers, just 48 behind 1966 World Cup winner Charlton. “It’s a great opportunity to try to break those kinds of records. I’m not too far away even though I’ve still got a few goals to go, but I’m confident I can reach it. Hopefully it will happen and if it does it will be a really proud moment,” Rooney added on MUTV. “My aim is always to score and create as many goals as possible, so if I can continue to score regularly and break the record then I would be delighted.” United also confirmed that Rooney has agreed to become an ambassador for the club when he retires. Press Association
Hull manager Steve Bruce says his players rightly got punished for a string of basic errors in Saturday’s 4-1 home defeat at the hands of Newcastle. Though the match at the KC Stadium will long be remembered for Newcastle manager Alan Pardew’s headbutt on Hull midfielder David Meyler, the overriding memory for Bruce was a catalogue of mistakes which contributed to the humbling reverse – the Tigers’ heaviest at home this season. Moussa Sissoko scored his first of the afternoon after 10 minutes, sweeping home first time after a counter-attack, while Newcastle’s second was a gift from Maynor Figueroa, the defender’s criminally under-hit back-pass allowing Loic Remy to gallop clear to score into an empty net after rounding the advancing Allan McGregor. Press Association After Hull had pulled one back through Curtis Davis at the start of the second period, Sissoko took the game away from the Tigers again with his second, which came after Hull had needlessly conceded possession from a free-kick, while the home backline appeared ragged and out of position when Vurnon Anita made it four in injury time. “The one thing we’ve prided ourselves on at this level is our defence,” said Bruce, whose side had conceded just 10 goals in 13 home games in the league before Saturday. “We’ve made more mistakes today than I’ve remembered us making in six months. Collectively and individually we’ve made just basic, bad schoolboy errors. “We’ve gifted them three goals in my opinion. When you do that it’s always going to be a long afternoon and we rightly got punished.” In spite of the one-sided scoreline Hull had more than enough chances to take something from the game, a fact that will give Bruce hope heading into next weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final with Sunderland and a home league encounter with title-chasing Manchester City on March 15. Newcastle’s first arrived within seconds of Bruce’s son Alex almost opening the scoring at the other end, only to see Tim Krul deny him with a superb double save, while Ahmed Elmohamady should have done better with a first-half header, as should Nikica Jelavic who also struck the frame of the goal from a free-kick. “I thought we played fantastically well in the first half,” Bruce added. “We’ve had a great chance, Krul’s made two wonderful saves, and within 30 seconds we’re 1-0 down. “Then we’ve had Jelavic’s chance, Elmohamady’s chance, Jelavic hits the bar, and then we go and make a mistake (for Newcastle’s second goal) like you see on a Sunday morning park pitch. You can’t do that at this level. “It looks like one of those horrible scorelines where we’ve been well beaten, but anyone who witnessed it knows we haven’t.”
The American, who pulled out of last week’s Honda Classic midway through his final round because of injury, produced his best round for some considerable time to shoot a six-under-par 66. That put him just three strokes off the lead set by compatriot Patrick Reed but Woods, who has won four times at this venue before it was extensively remodelled for this year’s tournament, is the favourite heading into the last day. World number one Tiger Woods put his back problem well behind him to shoot the round of the week on Doral’s Blue Monster course and put himself in contention for an eighth WGC-Cadillac Championship. And though he is still not 100% fit Woods proved he is still capable of producing the form which made him the most feared golfer on the planet. “I was pretty sore last night but I’m having treatment day and my therapists are doing a fantastic job of getting me out here and playing and that’s probably my most complete round (of the year),” he said in his post-round press conference. “My swing is coming around. I just need to get healthy enough to put the club in that position. “It was nice to get back in the tournament again. I held it together yesterday on a long, tough day and that gave me a chance: I was only six back and I thought that was definitely do-able. “I got my speed right (on the greens) and I hit the ball better and left myself in good spots. “It is a totally golf course today, Yesterday was not what we intended it to be. Today it is so much more playable.” Woods’ tally of eight birdies was better than he had managed in the first two days and with just two bogeys he lifted himself to one under, within touching distance of the lead. His iron play was particularly impressive, hitting approaches to third, fifth, eighth, 11th and also his tee shot at the short 15th to within 15 feet. Reed, who has held at least a share of the lead every day, shot a three-under 69, which included a 41-foot eagle putt at the eighth, to reach four under. Compatriots Jason Dufner and Hunter Mahan are both two under after rounds of 68 and 71 respectively with Welshman Jamie Donaldson tied with Woods for fourth on one under after a 71. “I am enjoying myself. It is a tough battle out there as the course is playing really difficult,” Donaldson told Sky Sports. “I am getting slowly more used to playing golf over here. I just need to make a few more putts.” Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell let things slip slightly as he dropped from one under to one over after a 73 but compatriot Rory McIlroy fared even worse. He had two double-bogey sevens on the par fives at eight and 10 after finding the water but improved the look of his card slightly with a chip-in birdie from the side of the 18th to finish with a 75 for three over par. Press Association
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart will face no further action from the Football Association following his confrontation with Hull’s George Boyd. Press Association England international Hart clashed foreheads with Hull substitute Boyd during a furious exchange in City’s 2-0 Barclays Premier League win at the KC Stadium on Saturday. Hart was booked by referee Lee Mason for his involvement and the FA has confirmed that – in line with the governing body’s own rules – it considers the goalkeeper to have been dealt with. The flashpoint occurred when Boyd was denied a penalty after claiming to have been fouled by Hart. It has also not yet been decided whether City captain Vincent Kompany could face further disciplinary action for his reaction to his sending off in the fiery contest. Kompany was dismissed just 10 minutes into the game for a professional foul on Hull forward Nikica Jelavic. That offence carries a mandatory one-match ban but Kompany angrily kicked a wall as he headed down the tunnel and made what could be interpreted as an offensive gesture towards fourth official Anthony Taylor. The FA could act if these matters are mentioned in reports by the officials. Any extension to Kompany’s suspension would rule him out of the derby against Manchester United at Old Trafford on March 25. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was also waiting to learn whether he might be in disciplinary trouble after he was sent to the stands late in his side’s 1-0 loss at Aston Villa. Mourinho was punished by referee Chris Foy after he, opposite number Paul Lambert and a number of coaches entered the field when a melee broke out following a red-card tackle by Chelsea’s Ramires on Karim El Ahmadi. The role of a number of players might also be examined.