EPL

Neto a Euros doubt after Wolves rule forward out for season

By Sports Desk April 12, 2021

Pedro Neto will miss the rest of the Premier League season for Wolves, with knee surgery placing the Portugal forward's Euro 2020 participation in doubt.

Neto was substituted during Wolves' 1-0 win at Fulham last Friday and visited a specialist in London to assess the extent of the damage to his knee cap.

The 21-year-old winger will require surgery, planned for later this week, that is expected to see him play no further part for Nuno Espirito Santos' men this term.

He scored five goals and supplied six assists in 31 Premier League appearances, having started all but one of Wolves' top-flight games in 2020-21 and featured in each of them.

Neto made his senior international breakthrough with Portugal this season, scoring on his debut against Andorra last November before winning caps in last month's World Cup qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Luxembourg.

Another of Wolves' Portugal contingent, Ruben Neves, is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

Nuno's side are 12th in the table and take on bottom club Sheffield United this weekend.

Portugal begin their campaign at the rescheduled Euro 2020 versus Hungary on June 15 and the holders must navigate a tough group alongside world champions France and Germany.

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  • Kane will put Spurs needs over winning Golden Boot, says Mason Kane will put Spurs needs over winning Golden Boot, says Mason

    Harry Kane would gladly sacrifice individual honours if it meant Tottenham ended the Premier League season on a high by winning their three remaining matches, according to caretaker boss Ryan Mason.

    The England captain has failed to score in his last two league games and has been joined at the top of the scoring charts by Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who took his goals tally to 21 with a strike against Manchester United on Thursday.

    Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes and Kane's Tottenham team-mate Son Heung-min are next on the list with 18 and 17 goals respectively, followed by Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin on 16.

    Spurs face Wolves, Aston Villa and Leicester City in their final three league games and Mason insists the team will come first for Kane, who previously finished top scorer in the English top flight in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

    "I know Harry, he's one of my best friends," Mason said at a pre-match news conference on Friday ahead of this weekend's home match with Wolves.

    "It he can help us win games and also win the Golden Boot, then happy days. But he won't compromise the team for the individual awards."

    Spurs were beaten 3-1 by Leeds United last time out in the Premier League and are now eight points adrift of the top four with a game in hand, while Liverpool and West Ham are four and two points better off respectively in the Europa League spots.

    Mason's side will likely have to see out the season by achieving three wins in a row to qualify for UEFA's secondary competition, something that they have not achieved yet in the top flight this calendar year.

    The likelihood is that if Spurs do take nine points from nine, Kane will have had a major say in that success.

    "Our target is to get as many points as possible and see where we finish," Mason said. "It's very difficult in the Premier League to win three games in a row. Our focus for now has to be on Wolves this weekend. 

    "At the end of next week we can see where we are. We want to be in European competition, that's what we expect."

    Last week's defeat to Leeds was Tottenham's 11th loss of the season in the Premier League, matching their tally for the whole of 2019-20. Five of those have been defeats by two or more goals - their most in a season since 2014-15 (also five).

    Mason, who has overseen Spurs' last four matches since the departure of Jose Mourinho, including the EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester City, acknowledges the importance of responding with three points against Wolves on Sunday.

    "Losing games hurts," he said. "To lose a cup final hurts massively, to lose a league game hurts massively. They are different emotions because the games were different.

    "There were moments in the Leeds one that shaped how the game went against us. We want to win and we expect to win. Any game we lose is disappointing.

    "The best therapy is being back on the training pitch. Hopefully at the weekend we'll be fully prepared."

    Tottenham have lost three of their six home Premier League games against Wolves (50 per cent) - only against Nottingham Forest (60 per cent) have they lost a higher percentage in the competition.

    That includes back-to-back away wins in this fixture for Wolves, who are 11 points worse off than their opponents in the table.

    This latest meeting between the sides could be overshadowed by possible protests ahead of the game, with the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust calling for the club's executive board to resign as the fallout from the collapsed Super League continues.

    However, while Mason respects the supporters' right to protest, he hopes they will get behind their team on the field when fans are allowed back into grounds from next week.

    "I think firstly, I trust our security, the players' safety is the most important thing," Mason said. "I respect the fans, their opinion matters, it really does. We want our fans to be aligned, all pulling in the same direction.

    "Our chairman and our board have done incredible for this football club. I know our fans respect that. The most important thing is the connection with the fans, who are entitled to their opinion.

    "To get them back into our stadium will be a massive bonus. It's going to be an incredible feeling. It's been such a long time coming. The noise, we know our fans get behind the team, we're looking forward to that.

    "We've got a massive game on Sunday, but of course we're excited. The football world, society in general, is excited by some sort of normality."

    Mason confirmed full-back Ben Davies is unlikely to play in any of Tottenham's remaining three games, but his side otherwise have no fresh injury concerns.

  • Tuchel: Chelsea facing two cup finals with Leicester Tuchel: Chelsea facing two cup finals with Leicester

    Thomas Tuchel believes Chelsea face "two finals" against Leicester City over the course of four days that could do much to define their revival under his leadership.

    The Blues have been a team reborn since Tuchel succeeded Frank Lampard as head coach in January and Saturday's FA Cup final at Wembley is their first of two shots they have at silverware – the other coming in the Champions League final against Manchester City in Porto at the end of this month.

    Chelsea and Leicester will reconvene on Tuesday with qualification for next season's Champions League still on the line, especially after contrasting fortunes in their most recent fixtures.

    Leicester won 2-1 at Manchester United to move ahead of Chelsea in fourth, who went down to a lacklustre 1-0 derby loss at home to Arsenal.

    Liverpool, who also beat United in their match at Old Trafford on Thursday, could be one point behind Chelsea by the time Tuchel's men are back in league action and he lamented his team's failure to be "decisive" in the Arsenal game.

    "Obviously I cannot judge it," he said when asked which game was more important. "These are two finals and we do not think about anything else but the two finals.

    "It's a final for the cup, it's a final for the top four. We missed a chance against Arsenal to be decisive and now we have to cope with it – first of all to show a reaction at Wembley and have the upper hand when it comes to Tuesday."

    Tuchel took his share of the blame immediately after Emile Smith Rowe was gifted the only goal by a dire Jorginho backpass at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, and he conceded his irritation at the result had not quite subsided.

    "'I still have a hangover from the last defeat, it's always like this. I'm a bit more in angry mode, not at myself or the players but because of the result and the opportunity we missed," he explained.

    "I will hopefully transform that to a good preparation and push the team to the edge to play sharp. We have to show a reaction, it's the FA Cup final at Wembley.

    "I am fully focused to prepare my team better than two days ago."

    On Thursday, the Champions League final was relocated from Istanbul to Porto due to Turkey being on the UK government's "red list" for travel in relation to COVID-19 restrictions.

    Tuchel insists his squad should not be paying any attention to an eagerly anticipated fixture still two weeks away.

    "I'm happy to go to Porto, I'm happy to go to a final. That's the easy answer - I would go anywhere to play a final," he said.

    "But right now the bigger challenge is to forget the Champions League final and to be fully focused on our two finals that are ahead of us.

    "We cannot lose one percentage of concentration and focus. We did this the last game against Arsenal and we got punished for it. Lesson learned and well accepted."

    Kepa Arrizabalaga will keep his place at Wembley as Chelsea's cup goalkeeper and Tuchel confirmed Mateo Kovacic was fit to feature again after a month on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

    "It's huge because Mateo has everything we need in the midfield," he added. 'Experience, power, he can beat players, he has physical ability and has played big games in the Premier League. 

    "When we missed N'Golo [Kante] and Mateo, we lacked a lot of quality, energy and experience.

    "Billy [Gilmour] did a huge job in huge games but it's not fair to compare him to these players because they have more experience and are a step ahead in their development. 

    "It's big news that [Kovacic] is back because he's a big guy in the dressing room around important matches."

  • Real Madrid midfielder Kroos in isolation after close contact with positive COVID-19 case Real Madrid midfielder Kroos in isolation after close contact with positive COVID-19 case

    Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has been placed in isolation after being in contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus.

    All tests conducted on Kroos up until this point have come back negative but he is now at home as per COVID-19 protocols.

    Madrid are playing away against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday in their penultimate LaLiga game of the season.

    They are locked in a thrilling title race with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, as their city rivals lead the standings by two points with only two matches to go.

    "Real Madrid reports that our player Toni Kroos is currently in isolation after being in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, although all tests carried out on the player have come back negative," read a statement from the club on Friday.

    It will be hoped that Kroos' situation does not evolve as Federico Valverde's did last month.

    Valverde initially had to isolate due to being a close contact before producing a positive test five days later which then ruled him out of a key Champions League match with Chelsea.

    Kroos has been a key figure for Madrid this season, featuring in 28 of their league matches.

    After a gruelling schedule, he was rested by Zinedine Zidane last time out against Granada ahead of the testing trip to San Mames.

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