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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Lassana Diarra ruled out as Al Jazira look to make up lost ground against Hatta 

The Arabian Gulf League champions have collected five points from five games and are lagging in eighth place in the 12-team league, eight behind pacesetters Al Ain

Henk ten Cate says French midfielder Lassana Diarra is not yet ready for a return to first-team action. Nezar Balout / AFP
Henk ten Cate says French midfielder Lassana Diarra is not yet ready for a return to first-team action. Nezar Balout / AFP

Mohammed Al Attas, the young Al Jazira defender, said nothing less than three points would be enough for his side when they travel to Hatta in the Arabian Gulf League on Thursday.

The champions have collected five points from five games and are lagging in eighth place in the 12-team league, eight behind pacesetters Al Ain.

Al Attas, 20, said his team can ill afford to lose more ground even at this early stage of the season.

“We have had a poor run so far and there are a lot of reasons behind it, like the injuries to key players,” he said.

“It’s time we turned it around, perhaps, from the game against Hatta. If we want to challenge for the title again, we need to pull up our socks and get to work, regardless of the problems we are faced with.

“Our focus at the moment is on the Hatta game and if we can return with a good result, everything can change.”

Jazira played out a scoreless draw with Al Wasl in their most recent encounter, a performance that encouraged Al Attas that the Abu Dhabi club were starting to turn a corner.

“I think we played the last game better than the previous games,” he said.

“That was encouraging and with a little more improvement we can return with the desire result from Hatta.”

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Lassana Diarra, Jazira’s marquee summer signing, has returned to training after recovering from a leg muscle spasm but is not expected to start against Hatta.

The France international, whose previous clubs include Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal and Marseille, has missed the last two games after being substituted at half time in Jazira's defeat to Al Nasr earlier this month.

“He has joined the training but needs more time, both for the time he’s missed out because of the injury and to adapt,” said the Jazira manager Henk ten Cate.

Al Wasl have an opportunity to go top of the table when face Dibba at the Zabeel Stadium in Thursday's late game.

On Friday, Al Nasr travel to Al Dhafra in the early game and Shabab Al Ahli Club meet Al Wahda in the other.

Ajman will have their tails up after their stunning victory over Nasr last week. They host Emirates in Saturday’s early game. The last match of Round 6 sees Al Ain take on Sharjah at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.