Jens Lehman has reiterated his disgust at being named substitute for most of this season. "To sit on the bench behind somebody who only started to play when he was 30 is not funny," he said. "I am very angry." Meanwhile, Mathieu Flamini will be out for up to three weeks with an ankle injury.
Gabriel Agbonlahor has thanked the manager Martin O'Neill for keeping faith with him after the striker recently went 12 matches without a goal. "The gaffer showed a lot of confidence in me," he said. "He supported me quite a bit in the media. It is always good when you get the backing of your manager."
The manager Alex McLeish has insisted the players will not allow off-field problems to affect their performance, stating the incidents were "part of football life at the moment". "It is not unusual given the last year," McLeish said. "I have not spoken to any of the players about it."
Striker Benni McCarthy has agreed a new three-year contract at the club, keeping him at Ewood Park until June 2011. The 30-year-old South African international joined the club from Porto in 2006 and enjoyed a succesful debut season with Rovers, scoring 24 goals, but has struggled this season.
Manager Gary Megson said he will ignore stories about his future and concentrate solely on the visit of West Ham tomorrow. "There are a lot more important things," he said. "There's only one thing I'm focused on and that's getting the three points that we desperately need. Whatever else goes on around the edges is really no concern."
Petr Cech will not require a protective mask to cover the facial injury he suffered last week, according to his agent, David Travnicek. The Czech goalkeeper needed 50 stitches following a training-ground accident with team-mate Ben Haim. "He does not need any cover," Travnicek said. "A good plaster will protect the wound well enough."
The Rams manager Paul Jewell hopes his side can repay the club's "loyal" supporters by making an immediate return to the top flight next season. "I think we have the best fans in the league," Jewell said. "I want to reward them next season, thats the most important thing for the club."
Defender Joleon Lescott believes the Toffees can still overhaul Liverpool and finish in fourth position. "We're three points behind with five games to go," the England international said. "We could be level with them before they play on Sunday, which puts pressure on them again."
Goalkeeper Kasey Keller admits the club are "going to have to go on a special run" to preserve their top-flight status. "Other teams have done it – there's no reason we can't," he said. "We've been close to winning several times, we've just not been able to get that odd goal, or stop that odd goal."
The club have failed in an attempt to get the second game of midfielder Javier Mascherano's additional two-match suspension overturned. The 23-year-old Argentine was handed the additional punishment following his reaction to his dismissal at Manchester United on 23 March.
The defender Micah Richards may be available for the home match with Portsmouth on 20 April after recovering from knee surgery. "If everything goes to plan, he should return to training on Monday," the manager Sven Goran Eriksson said of the England international.
Captain Gary Neville believes the club can go "all the way" and win the Champions League this season because of the depth of quality at Old Trafford. "We have a great chance to win it this season," the 33-year-old defender said. "This year we have the players to go all the way in the cup."
Emanuel Pogatetz believes his "mad dog" nickname is no longer applicable. The Austrian was booked 20 times in his first two years at the Riverside but has been booked just twice this season. "I've improved," he said. "Now people know I can do different things than just kick people."
The Magpies have been linked with a summer move for the the Porto striker Lisandro Lopez. The Portuguese forward has attracted suitors after scoring 21 goals in 23 matches. Lopez could cost an estimated £12m and Manchester City and Tottenham have also been linked with the player.
Assistant manager Tony Adams said he is unsure about his future at the club as he approaches the end of his contract this summer. "I've been in this game long enough to know how it works," he said. "I don't know what I'm doing about my future. Football clubs tend to do everything last minute."
Marcus Hahnemann will sympathise with his United States teammates if the Royals defeat Fulham tomorrow. "Games with Fulham are always meaningful," he said. "In some ways it won't be a happy day for me if we win, I could help send my buddies down to the Championship."
The manager Roy Keane feels the club can progress next season once they secure their League status. "I do believe if we stabilise this year, we can challenge the teams just ahead of us – the West Hams and the Blackburns," he said. "That's where we want to be over the next year or two."
Manager Juande Ramos said he entertains hopes of leading the club into the Champions League. "It would be nice for us to be there competing," he said. "It's what we aim to do. We want to remove one of the teams in the top four and replace them. It's our obligation to do that."
West Ham United
George McCartney said the club are determined to finish the season in the top half of the table. Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Portsmouth left them four points clear of Spurs in 10th position. "We have been in the top half for most of the season," he said. "We have five games left and it is up to the players to secure at least 10th place."
Josip Skoko said he has enjoyed his recent return to the Latics first team after just one appearance in four months. "It's nice to get a run," he said. "Sitting in the stands isn't easy. It was great to play against Birmingham [last week], although I began to run out of steam. Match fitness isn't something you can replicate, you need to play games."Reuse content