England manager Roy Hodgson received a contrite apology from Liverpool on Sunday night after he was denied initial access to his former club’s boardroom lounge on the day that he suffered the desperate blow of losing Wayne Rooney for the national side’s two make-or-break World Cup qualifiers.
Hodgson, who also lost Liverpool’s Glen Johnson and Manchester United’s Phil Jones from his squad last night, was infuriated to find that he had only been allocated a pass for a guest lounge at Anfield when he arrived to watched Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Manchester United, rather than the boardroom where the national manager is traditionally received. He also felt that he should have been afforded the courtesy of a place in the main section of the directors’ box and was intent on leaving Anfield in indignation, before the club apologised and belatedly offered him access to the boardroom lounge – which he refused.
The 66-year-old - who learned that a severe gash to the head will keep Rooney out for the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova on Friday and in Ukraine a week on Tuesday - was left distraught by his brief and deeply unhappy six-month period as Liverpool manager and felt that his exclusion from the boardroom might have reflected that chapter. Liverpool had actually sent him the wrong pass in error and quickly attempted to rectify the error, on a day in which they celebrated Bill Shankly. The club accepted last night that Hodgson’s indignation was understandable.
Hodgson’s squad convenes at St George’s Park on Monday, with Cardiff City defender Steven Caulker called up as cover after Johnson and Jones dropped out with ankle injuries, sustained in the Anfield match, which forced the players out of the match in first and second half respectively. The absence of Rooney, who sustained his injury in a training ground collision with Jones on Saturday, was also confirmed by the Football Association last night and doubts also surround the fitness of Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge.
Fears about Arsenal's Jack Wilshere subsided, when it emerged that a stomach bug which forced his substitution against Tottenhem Hotspur is not serious, but Rooney is out for three weeks, United manager David Moyes declared. "Wayne is bad. The cut is in the middle of his forehead,” Moyes said. “It was a boot by Phil Jones caught him down the forehead. Three weeks, I expect.
Sturridge – who is yet to start a competitive match for England - staked a major claim to a place by scoring his 16th goal in 20 games for Liverpool but was carrying a thigh injury which left him only 75 per cent fit. “We need to assess Sturridge and we need to make sure we think of Liverpool first,” his club manager Brendan Rodgers said. “I’m sure Roy would see him as a starter.” Sturridge seems unlikely to withdraw from the squad. “It was great to have the manager here,” he said last night. “I had a problem with my thigh before the game and it is still hindering me but I hope I will be okay for the squad.”
United head into transfer deadline day looked in dire need of some of the midfield reinforcements they have been seeking after they were outplayed by the side who finished last season 28 points behind them. Though the £25m signing of Everton’s Marouane Fellaini looks likely, they must probably meet the full £30m release clause to secure Atletic Bilbao’s playmaker Ander Herrera. There were heavily conflicting reports from Bilbao yesterday as to whether the 24-year-old wants to leave. Herrera was not named in Ernesto Valverde's starting line-up for Athletic's game at Real Madrid yesterday, after which Valverde said the player would not agitate to leave.
The prospects of securing Roma’s Daniele de Rossi and Fellaini’s teammate Leighton Baines seem slimmer.
“We will continue working for what’s left of [the window] to try and get what we can in,” Moyes said last night, insisting that he would not be concerned if there were no new arrivals. To the question of whether it was players not wanting to come or deals not being accepted which had proved the difficult, Moyes said: “I think it’s a bit of both. I think it’s a bit of all sorts of things going. It’ll not be too long until we know it all. But as I said, I’ve been really pleased with how the players have played they've given me a lot of confidence.”
Rodgers’ attempts to bring three more new players through door seem smoother, with central defenders Thiago Llori, of Sporting Lisbon, and Mamadou Sakho of Paris Saint-Germain both in the Anfield directos box yesterday, along with Chelsea’s Victor Moses, ahead of his imminent move on a season-long loan. “We hope they can all be complete and we’ll get confirmation tomorrow,” Rodgers said. “We need that depth. If we can get those deals over the line it will help.”
Rodgers attempted to retain a sense of realism after Liverpool’s best start to a campaign in nearly 20 years. He was taken aback – and laughed – when it was put to him that the title might be an aspiration, three games in. “It’s a fair enough question,” he replied. “there are 35 games to go and we’ve got a lot to improve a lot of work to do. We won’t be getting carried away. The initial challenge is to get into the top four and we can’t look anything beyond that.”
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