x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Football round-up: Bale should be ready Saturday; Balotelli banned three games

In other news, Arsenal report rise in turnover and Ireland have a new manager.

Mario Balotelli, left, continues to court controversy.
Mario Balotelli, left, continues to court controversy.

MADRID // Gareth Bale will not play for Real Madrid in Wednesday night’s Primera Liga match at lowly Elche but should be available for Saturday’s derby at home to Atletico, coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday.

The Wales winger, the world’s most expensive player after this month’s €100-million (Dh495m) move from Tottenham Hotspur, picked up a minor muscle problem in the warmup before Sunday’s victory against Getafe and was withdrawn from the starting line-up as a precaution.

“Today he trained apart from the rest of the squad and I think he will be ready for Saturday no problem,” Ancelotti told a news conference previewing the Elche game.

“He won’t be available [tonight] but we have time to train with him to prepare him well for Saturday.

Ancelotti dismissed a reporter’s suggestion Bale had been rushed into action too quickly after his pre-season was disrupted by the drawn-out negotiations over his move to the Spanish capital.

Bale, 24, scored on his debut in the 2-2 draw at Villarreal on September 14 before being substituted after an hour and played the final 30 minutes of last week’s Champions League victory at Galatasaray.

“He didn’t have any problems during those games,” Ancelotti said. “He then picked up a small problem but it’s not a muscle injury because if that were the case he would not have been able to train yesterday and today and he wouldn’t be available for Saturday.

“I don’t know exactly what happened but the best thing is that we didn’t take the risk of playing him [against Getafe] so that he can be available on Saturday.”

Ancelotti announced central defender Raphael Varane and fullbacks Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao will also be back in the squad to face Atletico.

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BALOTELLI GETS THREE-MATCH BAN

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Mario Balotelli, the AC Milan striker, has been suspended for three matches after his red card in the 2-1 victory over Napoli on the weekend, the Italian football league announced on Monday.

Balotelli saw red after the final whistle when he received a second yellow card for dissent.

The controversial Italy striker will miss Serie A matches against Bologna, Sampdoria and, crucially, champions Juventus.

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GASCOIGNE HAVING DRINK PROBLEMS AGAIN

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Paul Gascoigne, the troubled former England star. concedes he might start drinking again even though he recognises it could kill him.

Gascoigne has a long history of alcoholism and recently returned from a treatment clinic in the United States, where he overheard doctors say he might die.

He is battling to stay sober but speaking in an ITV documentary, the former Tottenham, Newcastle and Lazio midfielder concedes he cannot guarantee he will be able to stay away from drink.

The 46 year old told the filmmakers: “I just remember one bit after the third day of being in hospital when he [a doctor] said ‘I don’t think this guy is going to make it’ and I sort of put my head up a little bit and I was like, tubes in my arms and an oxygen tank injecting round my heart and lungs and that.”

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ARSENAL’S RISE IN TURNOVER

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Arsenal on Monday reported a rise in turnover to £242.8 million (Dh1.4 billion) as the Gunners claimed their improved finances was a significant factor in the club record signing of Mesut Ozil.

Despite reduced profits due to a drop in income from player sales and an increase in players’ wages, Arsenal saw overall turnover rise in the year ending May 31 2013 from £235.3m the previous year.

Commercial and retail revenue rose 20 per cent to £62m, boosted by the new sponsorship deal with Emirates airline, and Ivan Gazidis, the Arsenal chief executive, said the club’s strong financial position meant they are now able to compete for the likes of Ozil, the Germany playmaker, who cost £42.5m to lure from Real Madrid.

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IRELAND APPOINTS INTERIM MANAGER

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The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) on Monday appointed Noel King as the Republic of Ireland’s interim manager.

King, who was already working as Ireland’s Under 21 coach, has been asked to take over on a temporary basis as the FAI board continues the search for a permanent successor to Giovanni Trapattoni following the Italian’s sacking earlier this month.

sports@thenational.ae