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Carroll happy with Pool progress

Tuesday, 21 February 2012 07:31

A more confident Andy Carroll feels his Liverpool career is starting to take off 12 months after arriving at Anfield.

Since becoming the most expensive British player when he moved from Newcastle in a £35million deal on transfer deadline day of January last year the striker has not enjoyed the best of times.

His debut was delayed by a thigh injury sustained prior to his switch and he never regained full fitness before further problems ended his season a few games early.

 

The 23-year-old returned in better shape after a full pre-season but circumstances beyond his control, namely another untimely injury to captain Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez’s eight-match ban, meant his chances of playing in a properly full-strength team were restricted.

Sunday’s 6-1 FA Cup win over npower Championship visitors Brighton – in which Carroll scored the decisive goal to make it 3-1 in the second half – was in fact the first time he, Gerrard and Suarez had started a game together.

He got his captain’s man-of-the-match nomination but there had been signs over the last month that Carroll was starting to look like he could deliver on the expectations his hefty transfer fee produced.

And the striker is feeling much better about himself after two goals in four matches, and three since the turn of the year which has doubled his tally to six for the season.

“I feel like I am doing well. I have just started scoring goals and I am doing well in games. I think it has all come together,” said the England international.

Asked whether this was now the best he had felt since moving to Merseyside he added: “Without a doubt and I think it shows in my performances.

“(I’m) getting around the pitch a bit more, getting involved. I am happy, more confident and things are going all right.

“The whole team played well (against Brighton) and I was delighted to get a goal and obviously so for Luis (who also scored after missing a penalty) as well.”

More championship opposition awaits next weekend in the form of Cardiff when Liverpool travel to Wembley for their first final in five years.

The team could not have had better preparation for the Carling Cup showpiece, having bounced back from a league defeat at arch-rivals Manchester United, and Carroll knows competition for places in the final will be fierce.

“It is a massive game and I think all the lads are looking forward to it. Hopefully we can get the win,” he said.

“I have never been to a cup final. That is all I am looking forward to, getting there. It is a great feeling and hopefully we can win it.

“We have got a massive squad and everyone can play a part in it. We are such a good team that you could pick anyone.

“You have just got to work hard. The manager picks the team at the end of the day. If we can get the trophy it would be great.”

Victory over Cardiff would guarantee a return to European competition after a year’s absence but Liverpool are still holding out hopes of a top-four finish to get back into the Champions League.

“We have been playing well in the last couple of weeks and have been putting the performances in,” added the striker.

“We have been lacking goals but we have shown there we can bang them in.

“It is nice to see those teams (Arsenal and Chelsea) struggle a bit and obviously us putting performances like that together, it is great.”

 

News

Alex Ferguson has refused to get involved in a war of words with Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni over the future of Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson.

The Derry-born star excelled for his Ireland in midweek, scoring a fine goal in their 3-0 win over Wales in Dublin on Tuesday evening.

It prompted Trapattoni to repeat his call for Gibson to look elsewhere as he struggles to make an impact at Old Trafford.

So far this season, Gibson has made just 12 appearances in all competitions, and started only three Premier League games.

The Italian has said similar things before, which prompted Gibson to claim he would prefer to make a limited contribution at United than play more games at a lesser club.

Not one normally to encourage other managers to speak about his players, Ferguson might be expected to respond to Trapattoni’s latest musings.

However, ahead of Saturday’s Premier League encounter with Manchester City, when Gibson may struggle even to make the bench, Ferguson has stayed out of the argument.

‘I don’t know in what context he said it,’ said Ferguson.

‘The media today can exaggerate anything now.

‘It may have been a simple message for Darron. Who knows?

‘I only picked up the headline of it yesterday and didn’t really bother about the content.

‘I know Trapattoni. He is a sensible, experienced man. I don’t really give much credence to it. I don’t think he would say it to cause mischief.’

News

Robbie Keane's loan spell at Villa saw the Ireland striker turn in several impressive displays

Robbie Keane’s loan spell at Villa saw the Ireland striker turn in several impressive displays

Keane: Villa spell will benefit everyone

courtesy of RTE

Robbie Keane is hoping the Republic of Ireland will reap the rewards of his loan spell at Aston Villa.

The 31-year-old striker opted to spend part of the MLS shutdown back in the Barclays Premier League rather than in pre-season training with LA Galaxy, and that decision worked out well for both parties.

Keane scored three times in seven appearances for Villa, and will head into tonight’s friendly against the Czech Republic in Dublin brimming with confidence.

 

Asked what he had gained from his time in the midlands, he said: “Keeping fit, getting games under my belt – it couldn’t have worked out better for me.

“That’s the way I wanted it to go, to get games and keep myself fit.

“LA Galaxy are travelling to different places – they are in Arizona at the moment for a few weeks – so I just thought it would be more beneficial to me to stay in one place rather than be travelling all over the place and having a pre-season behind me that I already had three months ago.

“In that respect there was a bit of thinking behind it, it wasn’t that I just wanted to go on loan.

“Playing for Villa, it’s a great club and I really enjoyed my time there, and I think it worked out well for the both of us.”

Ireland will hope Keane’s spell back in English football will help to keep their record goalscorer – he has 53 senior international goals to his name – ticking over ahead of the Euro 2012 finals.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni admits he has all but chosen his squad already, but Keane knows every player needs to be at their best to win a seat on the plane to Poland and the Ukraine.

He said: “The manager has tough decisions to make but I am sure he has made tougher decisions before in his career and I am sure it won’t be a problem.

“It’s up to the players to keep themselves fit and keep themselves playing as much as they can.”

One man who is certainly not fit at the moment is central defender Richard Dunne, who is recovering from a fractured collarbone.

Dunne, 32, has set his sights on playing in Villa’s final two Premier League games ahead of the finals, and Keane is confident that will be enough for one of the rocks of the Republic’s qualifying campaign.

He said: “If you are a striker or a tricky winger like Aiden McGeady, it could be a little bit different.

“When you are a centre-half you don’t need to be as sharp as I would; I need a good five or six games to get sharp.

“As a centre-half you can get away with it. Richard looks after himself well anyway, so we just hope he gets back even before that.

“As long as he is fit for the European Championships that’s the most important thing, because the presence that Richard has certainly will help the team.”

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Updates

The Kildare feis is in Coventry this year which is the midlands region (NT) — it is on the 12th and 13th of feb but no one seems to have seen a syllabus or time table it is starting to get a bit late for us to be able to attend this feis if we don’t get some info soon,

Bid to bring start of 2017 Tour de France north of Border

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  • Scotland is preparing to bid to host the Tour de France in 2017

REBECCA GRAY

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10 Jan 2011

Scotland is preparing to bid to host the Tour de France in 2017, with the possibility of the world’s best cyclists descending on Edinburgh or Glasgow for the Grand Depart.

With Glasgow hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Gleneagles the Ryder Cup in the same year, Scotland’s national events agency, EventScotland, is keen to host further major events.

EventScotland said 2017 was likely to be the next opportunity to host the opening of the Tour outside mainland France after Corsica was named as 2013 host.

Stages of the world-famous event have been held in England in 1974, 1994 and 2007, with Ireland hosting a stage in 1988.

The director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, has indicated that there is a real possibility of the prestigious event starting in Scotland.

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