Riera loan move to City could become permanent deal

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The Independent Football

The Espanyol midfielder Albert Riera has joined Manchester City on loan until the end of the season, according to the Spanish club.

The City manager, Stuart Pearce, looks to have got his man after his opposite number, Miguel Angel Lotina, agreed to part with the left-sided player, who joined the La Liga outfit in the summer from Bordeaux.

City have the option of buying the 23-year-old at the end of the season for £3.5m. The former Mallorca player has only started four games for Espanyol this season, three of which were in the Uefa Cup, and on Friday he met Lotina to discuss the City offer.

"I could not promise him minutes and I understand that Riera had an offer which would open doors for him as well as allow him to be better paid," Lotina told Marca newspaper. "He has the option of returning here in June or completing his move if they buy him."

City's goalkeeper David James has taken two positives from the débâcle in Denmark that almost cast him into the international wilderness. One was the metaphorical "kick up the backside" that ensured he will never be as unprepared for a game again, and the other was meeting Sir David Frost, "a really nice bloke, and well up on his football too."

Frost and James met in New York, where the Manchester City goalkeeper had been invited to watch a game of American football in his capacity as an ambassador for the NFL in Britain, although the memories of the occasion do not fill the 35-year-old with warm nostalgia.

"We sat together in a hotel to watch the World Cup qualifier against Wales," he recalled. "And nice though it was, I really didn't want to be there."

James' omission from the victory at the Millennium Stadium in September appeared to confirm the end of his England career, following the goalkeeper's display as a substitute in Copenhagen a month earlier. By the time of the inspiring defeat of Argentina, however, James was back in the fold and, having moved ahead of Chris Kirkland and Robert Green in the challenge to Paul Robinson's England jersey, the veteran has not given up hope of completing his revival before the World Cup commences in June.

Robinson and James are in opposition tonight as Tottenham travel to the City of Manchester Stadium, and the home goalkeeper yesterday revealed: "What happened in the aftermath of the game against Denmark was the kick up the backside I needed. I didn't think I needed one at the time, though afterwards I thought differently.

"Getting back in the squad for the Argentina game was a big step and has given me the confidence to push on."

He added: "Paul is doing well for England and replacing him will not be easy, but I will be ready if I get the opportunity and to have every goalkeeper on form can only help England in the World Cup."

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