Roy Hodgson has revealed how Joe Cole's international teammates have rallied around the midfielder to help him settle after a difficult start to his time with the club. Since signing from Cheslea, Cole, 29, was sent off on his debut and has struggled for form and fitness ever since, but made his first appearance in five weeks against Steaua Bucharest last night. "He isn't a naturally confident character," Hodgson said. "He suffers when things are not going his way. Everyone at the club has worked hard to make sure he doesn't take it too hard and take too much on himself, because he's quite happy to take responsibility."
Roberto Mancini believes Mario Balotelli and Adam Johnson both have bright futures at the club - as long as they are prepared to put in a shift. Balotelli, a £24 million (Dh138m) summer signing from Inter Milan, scored twice in the 3-0 victory against Salzburg in the Europa League, while Johnson was also on target. The victory means City have secured a place in the last 32 with a game to spare. On Balotelli and Johnson, Mancini said: "They could become among the best players in the world, strong players. They need to work hard all the time. They both scored fine goals but they must carry on."
Sir Alex Ferguson takes his Manchester United side to Blackpool for tomorrow's late kick-off having drawn praise from his opposite number, Ian Holloway. "I admire a lot of clubs but Manchester United have a certain aura and Sir Alex certainly has," Holloway told the Manchester Evening News."He gets under people's skin as well because he actually says what he feels and you need that passion. Bill Shankly had the same passion and he started all that great success at Liverpool. Welcoming Sir Alex will be great and probably the highlight of my managerial career so far because it's a league game, not a one-off cup match."
Joey Barton is set to return to the fray for Newcastle United against West Brom on Sunday after serving a three-match ban. And Chris Hughton, the manager, is hoping the combative midfielder will be able to play to the same high standard that he was showing before his suspension, performances which led to calls for him to be picked for England. "Barton has been in good form, and any time people are talking about an England call-up is because somebody is playing well in the top division", Hughton told the Newcastle Chronicle. "That is exactly what Joey had been doing. Hopefully, he can continue that on his return."
Mama Sidibe, the strapping Mali striker, has been promised a place in the club's official 25-man squad next month as a reward for his comeback from injury. Sidibe,who suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in 2009, has been out of action since snapping his Achilles tendon in the 2-1 home defeat by Tottenham Hostpur on August 21. But he is back running and is near a return. "All things being equal," said Tony Pulis, the manager, "the big fella will be back in the 25-man squad because it hasn't been the same without him." Pulis has confirmed the club hope to tie up a deal for Smajl Suljevic, the young Swedish midfielder.
Steve Bruce has highlighted the importance of keeping his players fit during a busy Christmas and New Year period. Sunderland are without three senior players due to long-term injuries. Bruce admits all his of squad will have a role to play during a December schedule which sees Sunderland play five games, starting with their match against West Ham on Sunday. "The one thing we need is a bit of luck in terms of injuries," Bruce told the club website. "We can't really afford any more long-term ones. It's a big ask for us over Christmas. During that period you tend to see more injuries, particularly in games rather than training."
Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, has described Luka Modric, his Croatian midfielder, as "a manager's dream". Modric led the comeback against Liverpool as Spurs turned around a 1-0 half-time deficit to win 2-1 last weekend. "Luka's a world-class player, he is absolutely fantastic, a manager's dream," Redknapp told the Tottenham website. "He comes in every day and works hard, trains great, he's a fantastic person and an unbelievable footballer. He dragged us forward in the second half against Liverpool, some of his runs and his play were fantastic. For me, he's got everything. He could play in any team in the world."
West Bromwich Albion
West Brom will be without Youssouf Mulumbu for their game against Newcastle United on Sunday. His place in midfield could be taken by Steven Reid, who was captain on the night when the Baggies were beaten 1-0 by Championship side Ipswich in the quarter-final of the Carling Cup on Wednesday. "Obviously Youssouf is suspended and if I am asked to do the job I will be delighted and we will hopefully get the three points," Reid said. Reid also defended the nine changes Roberto Di Matteo, the manager, made for the cup game. "The team the gaffer has been picking in the Carling Cup has been doing well," Reid said.
West Ham United
Wally Downes, the new defence coach has expanded on his safety-first approach, which appears to have kick-started the club's mini-revival. The Hammers have won both their games since the arrival of Downes. They scored seven goals and conceded just one over the course of Saturday's league victory over Wigan and Tuesday's Carling Cup thrashing of Manchester United. "If the ball is there, you have to get rid of it," Downes told the club website."There's no value to over-complicating things in your own final third. I like to play football in the opposition's half."
Wigan fear Victor Moses could be out for up to three months after dislocating a shoulder in Tuesday's defeat at Arsenal. The club initially anticipated a four to six-week layoff for the 19-year-old after he injured himself landing awkwardly in a tackle during the 2-0 Carling Cup loss. Further examinations have now shown the injury to be worse than thought and the forward is likely to be out until spring. Roberto Martinez, the manager, said ahead of tomorrow's game against Stoke City: "It is a huge setback. We haven't got the final assessment but we fear the worst."
Mick McCarthy has stressed the need for Wolves to start keeping clean sheets if they are to climb out of relegation trouble. Wolves halted a run of four successive defeats with last weekend's 3-2 home success over Sunderland. But they remain in the bottom three and McCarthy knows they have to tighten up at the back. He said: "Last weekend was just reward for the work we have put in. We played well, got that little bit of luck and want to build on it. But we need to keep a clean sheet and not concede the type of goals we have been doing." Wolves visit Blackburn Rovers tomorrow.