Thomas Frank admitted Ivan Toney made mistakes but questioned the Football Association’s decision to ban him from training for four months as part of his suspension for betting rule breaches.

Toney pleaded guilty to 232 breaches of the FA’s betting rules and has been banned from football for eight months and is not allowed to train with Brentford until half of the term has been served on September 17.

Frank jumped to Toney’s side as Brentford adjust to being without their 20-goal striker for the first half of the 2023-24 campaign.

The Brentford boss said: “Yes, Ivan did something wrong but what I don’t get at all is how can you not let him be involved in football at all for the first four months?

“What do you gain from that? If you want to rehabilitate people you give them education, you do something, and now he is left on his own.

“There’s no doubt for me that the first four months he could be involved in football, he should be forced to go into a hundred schools to tell them about his football and background, that’s how it should work, but I’m a football coach, what do I know?

“If I can’t speak to him, then they will have to ban me. If I am not allowed to speak to him on a support level there must be something wrong. I think you’re allowed to contact people even when they’re in prison aren’t you? So I think I’m allowed.”

Toney’s ban was reduced by the independent regulatory commission after he was diagnosed with a gambling addiction by a psychiatry expert.

In March Brentford were reported to be considering cutting ties with Hollywood Bets who have been their main kit sponsor since July 2021.

And Frank discussed the link between football and gambling sponsors and called for better ways to support players.

“I think it’s definitely something we need to look into,” Frank added.

“The cleaner the football industry could be, the better.

“Ivan has made some mistakes, now we need to get through that and we will support him. But there is no doubt that football and gambling’s relationship need to be reviewed and I think we can only look at ourselves first.

“We got a massive reminder (Toney ban), do we do enough to educate our players? I think that’s a big thing, I think the football authorities have a massive task to make sure we do this much better.”

Brentford host treble-chasing Manchester City at the Gtech Community Stadium on Sunday where a win depending on other results could see them qualify for the Europa Conference League – the Bees are ninth and trail seventh-placed Aston Villa by two points.

“I believe that anything can happen in football,” Frank said.

“I had a big belief before the season that we’ll do top 10, of course I didn’t know (that Brentford would be contending for Europe) but I am so pleased we are in the mix and have a chance. But we just need to beat the best team in the world.”

Malky Mackay is buoyed by the fighting spirit Ross County have shown in recent weeks as his team bid to complete their cinch Premiership survival mission this weekend.

The Staggies looked on course for automatic relegation when they languished four points adrift at the foot of the table after losing 6-1 at Hearts in their last pre-split fixture five weeks ago.

But they have bounced back strongly, collecting seven points from their last four games to jump ahead of Dundee United and ensure they cannot finish bottom of the league unless there is an eight-goal swing in the Tayside club’s favour.

County are currently 11th and in the relegation play-off spot, but a win away to 10th-placed Kilmarnock on Sunday will see them climb above Derek McInnes’s side and ensure they survive in the top flight for another year.

“I’ve got a team here that are fighting and working so hard, and that will stand us in good stead for Sunday,” said Staggies boss Mackay.

“We’re going down there and it will be a tough game, undoubtedly. I know Derek really well and both teams will be fighting for the win but we’ve put ourselves in a good spot to stay in this league.”

County showed their spirit in a dramatic showdown at home to St Johnstone on Wednesday when they roared back from 2-0 down to draw 3-3.

Mackay is hoping his team can reward their supporters with a special day to end the campaign at Rugby Park.

“The fans were fabulous the other night,” he said. “They’ve stuck with the team through thick and thin.

“They can see the team are fighting for the badge and that’s what counts most for our fans. I hope as many of them as possible go down to Kilmarnock to cheer us on.”

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell fears Calum Butcher has been left with a “nasty” injury after falling foul of Livingston’s artificial surface.

Butcher went off with a foot injury during Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at the Tony Macaroni Arena and Motherwell are awaiting news on the extent of the damage.

Kettlewell said: “Calum went to plant his foot on the pitch. I’m not so sure that we would have had the issue if it was on that surface out there (Fir Park).

“It’s an awkward one, I don’t think there is much give in the artificial turf as we all know and he felt a pop in his foot. It was so innocuous in terms of putting your foot down.

“He has got a scan and we will find out the extent of that injury. We just hope the significance of the injury isn’t too bad.

“It’s a real frustration because he has been excellent for us, absolutely outstanding.

“We are disappointed but I would hope it’s not too long a period that he is out.

“It is a frustration when you see a centre-back going to jump for the ball and his foot sticks in the surface and he ends up with what looks like a pretty nasty injury.”

Kettlewell is also missing Dan Casey with an arm injury and Ricki Lamie following hernia surgery, but the central defensive injuries mean Shane Blaney got his first start under the manager at Livingston.

The Irishman sustained an injury in his third start under Steven Hammell and Motherwell’s form has meant he has needed to be patient.

The former Sligo Rovers defender is excited about playing a bigger part next season but wants to seal a seventh-placed finish when Motherwell host Dundee United in Sunday’s cinch Premiership finale.

Blaney said: “The injury came at a bad time for me personally. That’s football and I couldn’t get too down about it but it’s great to get back in and any time I have been called upon, it’s been brilliant.

“It was brilliant to get a start on Wednesday night.

“I feel like I get on very well with the manager and I really like working with him, he has been brilliant since he came in. His ideas and the way he wants to play football are brilliant and it’s right up my street.

“I am really looking forward to finishing off the season and in pre-season kicking on again.

“It was different coming at Christmas and a full pre-season is massive for any player, getting the build-up of games leading into the season. It is really exciting for me.

“I feel like I can definitely do very well here from everything I have seen.

“From being injured and being on the bench, I have seen the league now, which is a big thing. I have seen how it works, I have come into games, I have started games, I know I can do it here. I am really looking forward to next year.

“We want to finish strongly so we can build on that and head into this season and kick on again and keep this upward trajectory going.”

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes says it is “business as usual” for her side as they prepare for Saturday’s Super League finale, looking to wrap up another title.

Ahead of the season’s concluding round of fixtures, the Blues – who have won the WSL five times and for each of the last three seasons – are two points clear of second-placed Manchester United, with a goal difference better by five.

Chelsea, aiming to complete a league and FA Cup double, play bottom side Reading away, while Marc Skinner’s United are at Liverpool.

Hayes told a press conference: “I think back to every campaign, we’ve only won the league by a couple of points at best, maybe (with) a game (to spare) somewhere along the line, so this is just business as usual for us.

“The preparation is what we’d prepared for at the very beginning of the season.

“It’s not like we’ve won leagues comfortably in the past – so nothing is different from our perspective. We’ve always known from previous experience it goes to the last game.”

A win to seal the title would be a seventh successive league victory for Chelsea, who have scored 24 goals in the past six games, conceding once.

Reading, meanwhile, have lost each of their last five games, conceding 16 times across their last four.

The Royals pulled off a shock 1-0 win at home against Chelsea last season, and Hayes said: “We don’t think about that. What we think about is we are exactly where we want to be – a position to control the outcome.

“I have to keep reminding the team we’re 90 minutes away from winning the title and all of my energy’s focused on doing that.”

Regardless of what happens on Saturday, United – guaranteed at least second, their first finish in a Champions League berth – have had their best WSL campaign to date, as well making a debut FA Cup final appearance, when they were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea and Skinner has said he feels his side do not “get enough credit”.

Asked about that comment, Hayes said: “They should. They’ve had an outstanding year. I’m sure Marc will build on that and make them even more competitive next year.”

Reading need to win to have any chance of surviving, lying two points adrift of 11th-placed Leicester, who have an inferior goal difference by three and go to Brighton.

Reading boss Kelly Chambers said: “If you just give up now or don’t believe then, for me, what’s the point of stepping out there on Saturday?

“There’s still a glimmer of hope there for us and we just have to give everything we can. If we are beaten by the better team, I can accept that – what I can’t accept is that we don’t turn up and fight for everything.”

Third-placed Arsenal look set to seal the final Champions League spot, currently three points clear of Manchester City and holding a goal difference advantage over them of 11.

Jonas Eidevall’s Gunners host fifth-placed Aston Villa, whose 21-goal forward Rachel Daly was named WSL player of the year on Friday, while Gareth Taylor’s City play Everton at home.

It would be the first time since 2014 that City have finished outside the European places.

Taylor said: “It’s fine margins between being successful in the season like Chelsea and where we’re at coming up short.

“With the group we have and the support, if we can squeeze more out of these players with another season, it’s exciting times.”

Saturday’s other match sees West Ham entertain Tottenham.

Meanwhile, according to Football Association statistics released on Friday, WSL attendances are up 173 per cent this season compared to the last, with the 2022-23 average being 5,272, up from 1,931.

The cumulative attendance for the current WSL campaign stands at 664,211, and all of the three highest-ever WSL crowds were achieved this season.

They were 47,367 for Arsenal against Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium in September, 44,259 for Manchester City v Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in December, and 42,700 for Arsenal against Chelsea at the Emirates in January.

Bournemouth head coach Gary O’Neil feels Sunday’s trip to relegation-battlers Everton can provide a marker as to just how his own squad will shape up for the challenges ahead next season.

The Cherries looked set to be fighting an uphill battle to retain their Premier League status when sitting in the bottom three at the beginning of April.

However, rookie boss O’Neil – who replaced Scott Parker following a 9-0 loss away to Liverpool at the end of August – masterminded an upturn in fortunes with a run of four wins from five games to pull clear of the relegation zone.

Although three straight losses followed a rousing 4-1 home victory over Leeds, other results have meant Bournemouth’s future was secure ahead of what is set to be a nerve-shredding final day of the survival battle.

Unlike Everton boss Sean Dyche – whose side sit 17th, two points clear of the dropzone – O’Neil can plan for next season again with certainty as he looks to keep his club moving forward.

“Everton will be direct and the atmosphere will be tough,” O’Neil said.

“But what a great opportunity for the players to go and show what a good side we are, to see how well we can stand up to the questions that are undoubtedly going to be asked of us.

“So (it is) a real good marker for me, with last game of the season, going into a summer break and then pre-season to just see where we are against what will be a real good test.”

O’Neil told a press conference: “I have not really been looking at any other part of the picture (in the league) other than our own.

“I am aware of the situation with Everton, involving Leeds and Leicester is something I am aware of because we were involved in it for a big part of the season, but up until this moment, it is just pure focus on us.

“We have been on 39 points for a while and have given our best in the last three games to add to that.

“We are just looking to go and be ourselves, to put in a good showing and finish the season on a high.”

Bournemouth will have midfielder Philip Billing available after back issue kept he Denmark midfielder out of last weekend’s home defeat by Manchester United.

Hamed Traore should also be in contention again following his foot problem, but midfielder Joe Rothwell’s thigh injury continues to be assessed.

“We have another training (session) to go. We will see how they come through, but hopefully (the squad will be) as close to full strength as possible,” O’Neil said.

Pep Guardiola has said he is “not optimistic” the Vinicius Junior racism row that has erupted in Spain will drive a change of attitude in the country.

Real Madrid forward Vinicius was racially abused by fans during his side’s game at Valencia in LaLiga last week.

The affair has sparked a wave of criticism of Spanish football and the way it deals with such matters.

It is thought to be at least the 10th time Brazil international Vinicius has been racially abused this season alone.

Manchester City manager Guardiola, the former Barcelona boss, believes the Spanish game can learn from English football on the issue.

“They should,” he said. “Here they are so strict. They know what they have to do.

“Of course racism is a problem everywhere, not just in one specific place. Everywhere we have (people) thinking we are better than our neighbours, we are better than the other ones, for all generations everywhere.

“Our ancestors come from migrants, come from wars, come from dictatorships, you have to move from other countries, build families there and come back to where you’re born.

“The problem is that there is racism everywhere. Not just for gender but for colour, for attitudes. We believe that our language is better than the other one, our country is better than the other one.

“As much as you travel in other countries, you realise we are the same, with the same fears, with the same good things.

“We need to accept the diversity as a strength, like a human being – and still right now, we are far away from that.

“Hopefully it can be one step to getting better in Spain but I’m not optimistic. I know a little bit the country and I’m not really optimistic.

“There are a lot of black people stepping forward to defend what they should not (have to) defend. Hopefully justice can help to do it but in the same time is it going to change anything in Spain?”

Ange Postecoglou claims the demands that come with being Celtic manager will ensure there is no time when the motivation dips.

Postecoglou has been installed as the favourite to take over as Tottenham manager with most bookmakers – alongside former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers – after reported Spurs target Arne Slot pledged his future to Feyenoord.

Reports in England claim the former Australia head coach has become a primary target for the Premier League club but the situation is not new to Postecoglou after a season of speculation.

Speaking ahead of getting the cinch Premiership trophy after Saturday’s game against Aberdeen, Postecoglou said of the reports: “I’m aware of it because everyone keeps asking me about it.

“It’s happened in the past, I have been pretty clear it’s just not the way I think and work.

“My priority right now is just making sure we have a special day on Saturday and we have a cup final coming up in a week’s time.

“I’m not going to sit there and get distracted by things that are kind of fascinating for other people rather than myself.

“That’s where my focus is and where it will continue to be. We have had a fantastic season and we have an opportunity to make it a really special one.”

Celtic will win the treble if they beat Inverness in the Scottish Cup final but Postecoglou will quickly move on to the next challenge rather than thinking he has done it all.

“That doesn’t really change,” he said. “There is always stuff to achieve. As a football club we have the responsibility to deliver success and play football a certain way.

“Just because we won the double last year doesn’t mean we came into this year thinking, okay, we don’t have to be as strong. We had to be stronger.

“The challenge is always there, irrespective of what we have achieved so far.

“And if ever you kind of lose that focus then you probably find yourself out of a job because that’s the demands this football club places on the people who represent it.

“We have a chance to win a cup final and make it a special year and next year we all start on zero again and the opportunity is there to try and improve and be stronger for what’s ahead.”

Celtic have only taken one point from three games since clinching the title and Postecoglou is keen to ensure they put on a show before lifting silverware.

“It’s a special day, it makes it all real when you get that trophy and get the chance to lift it, you’re champions,” he said.

“We want to make it a great day in terms of enjoying every aspect of it including the game itself.

“The boys are determined to put on a good performance and hopefully make it a great afternoon.

“We have had a couple of poor performances and results and whilst there have been reasons for that, me being the person responsible for it by changing the team, it doesn’t mean the players aren’t disappointed that they haven’t been able to perform to the levels they want.

“Saturday is the last opportunity we get to do it in the league so we are going in there to play with the same sort of intensity and tempo that we usually do.”

Right-back Alistair Johnston is set for a comeback from injury but Aaron Mooy and Sead Haksabanovic will miss out.

On Johnston, who suffered a leg knock in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers, Postecoglou said: “He is good to go. He will play on Saturday and if he gets through that then we will see for the cup final.

“Aaron Mooy is still struggling with a back complaint so he will miss out and is probably a doubt for cup the final.

“Sead, who came off the other night, is not as bad as we thought. He will miss Saturday but we think he has a good chance for the cup final which is good for him and good for the group.”

Pep Guardiola is convinced his Manchester City players will be ready to make the most of their “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to win the treble.

Having wrapped up the Premier League title last weekend, City are now focusing on next month’s FA Cup and Champions League finals, in which they will face Manchester United and Inter Milan respectively.

First, City need to finish off their Premier League campaign, which they will do at Brentford on Sunday, before the players have two days off.

They will then return to training next week and give the two glamour ties full attention.

City manager Guardiola said: “Everybody knows what position we are in. It comes once in a lifetime, twice in a lifetime?

“Being champions in the Premier League three games before the end and to play two finals – that doesn’t come every season.

“Once we are there, first of all you have to relax and enjoy and do your best, but no-one can be sure we will be in that position again.

“They are ready. I see many details – how they come up on days off to make treatments, how many hours they stay to make the treatments, how players are individually concerned maybe they cannot play the FA Cup final and Champions League final.

“When you see that you don’t have to tell anything and do anything.

“We prepare for the finals like we prepare every single game. We are not going to change any routine.”

City have a number of fitness doubts ahead of the trip to the Gtech Community Stadium and Guardiola may be unwilling to take unnecessary risks given the magnitude of the games that follow.

Defender Nathan Ake is the chief concern with the hamstring injury that has kept him out of the last five games but John Stones and Phil Foden suffered knocks at Brighton in midweek.

They were both substituted as a precaution and will be assessed, as will the likes of Jack Grealish, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Manuel Akanji, who were left out altogether.

“It’s getting better,” Guardiola said. “They’re training Saturday afternoon and we’ll decide how they are for the last game because we need to keep our rhythm as much as possible before the long weeks to prepare for the finals.

“No-one (is ruled out) but some of them are half-half. We will see.”

Guardiola, speaking at a press conference, stressed the importance of relaxing during the days off next week before the hard work begins.

He said: “In my experience the best way to play important finals is to be disconnected as much as possible.

“When I started, it was ‘I have to prepare the final. I have to make a lot of videos’. Now it’s completely the opposite.

“We need to disconnect. Even our physios and doctors and cooks, they work incredibly hard in this period. They don’t have time off. They need to disconnect.

“Go with your families. If the sun is shining, play golf, do whatever you want and (have) quality (rest) to prepare for the finals. Arrive in the best conditions for the finals.”

Guardiola is a keen golfer himself but says his time off will be about “family time, good restaurants”.

“My back doesn’t allow me,” he said when asked if he will be hitting the fairways.

Steven Naismith feels it would be wrong to frame Saturday’s fourth-place shootout with city rivals Hibernian as make or break for his prospects of becoming Hearts manager on a permanent basis.

The 36-year-old has won two of his six matches in charge since replacing Robbie Neilson on an interim basis last month and has been unable to stop Aberdeen claiming third place in the cinch Premiership.

Naismith acknowledges “results have not been perfect” but he is adamant Hearts, who have been praised for their attacking intent in recent matches, are now “a much better team” than when he first took the reins.

A 2-1 win over Aberdeen last weekend followed by Wednesday’s 2-2 draw away to Rangers has helped strengthen his case in the eyes of many supporters.

Naismith feels his ability to lead Hearts forward in the longer-term should be of more relevance when deciding his fate than the result of Saturday’s derby, where a Hibs win would see them pip the Jambos to fourth place.

“I would be disappointed if it’s coming down to one game,” he said. “The whole thing’s been a process – not just on a Saturday, every day we train and work.

“The way I work, I’ve been very open with everybody and said: ‘Come and see what we do’, and if it works, it works. In some respects it might be coming across as that way (that the derby is make or break), but I’ve not seen it that way.

“I’ve seen it as taking over for this period of time and at the end of it I’ll reflect over what I thought went well, what didn’t go well, how well I’ve done, but that’s for after Saturday.

“I think over the course of the seven weeks, there will be moments where people will have been like: ‘He can do the job’, and there will be moments where people will go: ‘Nah, he’s not got enough experience’.

“That’s why I’m saying I don’t feel I will be judged on one game. It’s a big game because it’s a derby and we’re next to each other in the table but we’ve not been solely focusing on this game.

“We’ve been focusing on a plan to try and win games consistently and have something here that lasts, where we’re building something that doesn’t just give you short-term results.

“The club needs something bigger than that, and since I’ve come in and taken charge, that’s been at the forefront of my mind.”

Naismith, the former Kilmarnock, Rangers, Everton and Scotland attacker, first joined Hearts as a player more than five years ago and has remained at Tynecastle, more recently as a coach, ever since.

He feels his knowledge of the club will stand him in good stead if he is appointed Hearts’ permanent manager.

“I think it’s helped me in the seven weeks I’ve been in the role,” he said of his familiarity with Hearts. “I think it also helps me that I may be considered for the job longer term because I’ve got a real understanding of this club.

“I came here and in my first six-month loan spell, there was a lot I didn’t know about the club even though I’d been in Scottish football for 15 years, in terms of the demand, the size of the club, where the club’s ambitions were.

“I didn’t really know that from the outside but then you come in and very quickly you understand that, which then gets you an understanding that we need a certain type of player characteristic that can deal with the pressure.”

Ryan Mason insists the Tottenham job remains an attractive proposition despite another protracted search for the head coach role.

Spurs saw another contender to permanently replace Antonio Conte exit the running this week after Feyenoord boss Arne Slot committed his long-term future to the Eredivisie club before he signed a new deal on Friday.

Tottenham held an interest in Slot but no direct discussions with the 44-year-old took place, the PA news agency understands.

Other managers linked with the vacancy, such as Bayer Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso and Burnley boss Vincent Kompany, have also pledged their immediate futures to their current clubs, but acting head coach Mason is under no illusions the top job at Spurs remains desirable.

Asked if the Tottenham job was still an attractive proposition, Mason replied: “Absolutely, yes.

“It is Tottenham Hotspur, it is a big club. Not just for managers or coaches, but for staff members, for players.

“Anyone here should feel the privilege and honour to represent the badge. If they don’t, then they shouldn’t be here. It is as simple as that.”

When Conte left his position on March 26, Tottenham were firmly in the race for Champions League qualification but they travel to relegation-threatened Leeds on Sunday with only a faint chance of securing a place in the Europa Conference League.

Mason insisted that, while European football for next season is crucial, the most important task for the club is to put a plan in place.

“Obviously it has its implications and it’s not where the football club wants to be. We definitely want to be competing in Europe,” Spurs’ acting head coach stated.

“Any European competition is important for a club this size but at the same time the most important thing, regardless of whether we’re in or out of Europe, is that there is a plan and there is commitment from everyone to that going forward.”

During the last few weeks, Mason has repeatedly referenced the need for commitment at the club without going into specifics.

Even before Conte departed two months ago, the future of the Italian was uncertain with his deal set to expire this summer anyway.

Mason again refused to be drawn on whether any coaches, players or staff had lacked commitment this season, but admitted the squad had been affected by the turmoil off the pitch.

He added: “The results before he (Conte) left weren’t amazing. I don’t think results have dipped a huge amount.

“Obviously we were in a different position but I think you could feel it, you could feel it the weeks leading up to it there was uncertainty and it’s never great to have that uncertainty.

“We’ve probably been in that situation for the last eight weeks where there’s been a lot of uncertainty.

“That is why one of my main things when me and my team of people came in, I wanted to create a togetherness and make us feel part of something towards the end of the season.”

Mikel Arteta has warned Arsenal the competition will be even tougher if they hope to mount another Premier League title challenge next season.

Wolves visit the Emirates Stadium on Sunday for a fixture that at one stage looked like it would mark Arsenal’s coronation as champions for the first time in 19 years.

Instead they go into their final game eight points adrift of champions Manchester City, the same margin that Arteta’s side led by in early April, with their courageous title tilt having finally been ended by defeat to Nottingham Forest last Saturday.

Arsenal’s challenge has wilted since they threw away a 2-0 lead against Liverpool at Anfield on Easter Sunday, followed by successive draws against West Ham and Southampton before City finally took control of the race with a thumping 4-1 win against the Gunners at the Etihad.

Arteta called for his players to end a nevertheless memorable season on a high against Wolves, but pointed to what is likely to be an even more intense struggle next campaign if the club are to finally end a two-decade wait to be champions.

“The competition is going to be even harder next season,” said Arteta. “In my opinion it’s been the hardest this season in 22 years that I’ve been in this league.

“In order to (compete) we have a really promising plan, we have to reflect a little bit, take a step back, make sure this is the right one and go again with more determination and hunger in the tummies to do even better.

“Now is about finishing the season in style and providing a great performance and a victory in front of our people to show our gratitude.

“(We) received a lot of incredible energy they have given us throughout the season, and (we will) start to build for next season. We have to wrap it up in the best possible way. It’s been some journey, full of emotions.

“Looking with a bit of perspective, there’s a lot of things not only on the field that have happened at the club that deserve a lot of credit for a lot of people.

“We have to nail everything that we do, we have to seek excellence in everything that we touch and we participate in that’s going to have a big impact at the club.”

Arsenal’s late collapse was in part precipitated by the loss of defender William Saliba to injury in March, with the deputising Rob Holding criticised for failing to match the 22-year-old’s imperious form across the season.

Arteta remained hopeful that the back injury the defender picked up during the team’s Europa League exit to Sporting Lisbon will not stretch into next season and that he will be ready to resume training after the summer.

There is also optimism that Takehiro Tomiyasu, who has played only 21 times in the league due to injury, will be fit to take part in pre-season.

Arteta said of Saliba: “He’s evolving the right way, the last few weeks have been much more positive than the previous two months.

“We wanted to protect him, it’s an injury that needed some care and attention. We’ve been pretty conservative to give him the best possible chance to have a good pre-season and to go again next season.

“Tomiyasu will be (back) around pre-season like Willy, they’ll be in a good place. They’ve been working so hard the boys, it’s been a really difficult year for (Tomiyasu) with some issues that he’s had.

“He’s a tremendous person, a top professional, we just want him to be available because when he is he’s really helpful for the team.”

Unai Emery has welcomed pressure as Aston Villa look to seal a European return.

Victory over Brighton in Sunday’s Premier League finale will book seventh spot and a place in the Europa Conference League play-offs.

Villa last competed in Europe in 2010-11 and Emery is relishing the task on Sunday, with the Seagulls having already sealed their Europa League spot.

“For me, the pressure is amazing to try to feel matches when you’re playing for something important,” he said.

“We want to be excited, not anxious, but to be excited, be very motivated and to enjoy the process. When you’re in the match, you have to be prepared to focus only on your game plan.

“The players are doing that. When you are very focused and you’re really trying to work hard on your style and idea, and your players are practicing hard, this is a good way.

“That is a moment you feel you are doing all you can on the pitch.”

Alex Moreno is out with a hamstring injury while Philippe Coutinho is also sidelined and Diego Carlos is expected to miss out.

Emery added: “In front of us is the most important match we are going to face. We are trying to prepare for it like the last matches we played, being motivated and enjoying the process.

“Our time is coming on Sunday with our supporters in Villa Park to enjoy this match. We are going to face a very difficult team.

“They are playing amazing football. Their structure, tactically, is very strong. I enjoy the matches we are playing in the Premier League and the matches we are watching of other teams. One of those teams is Brighton.”

Sam Allardyce has confirmed he will discuss whether he will continue as Leeds boss with the club’s hierarchy after Sunday’s final Premier League game of the season.

Allardyce gave his biggest hint yet that he would be interested in remaining in the role, even if Leeds are relegated on the final day, after their last match against Tottenham at Elland Road.

The former England manager said: “That’s to be decided at the end. It’s always been a case of we will discuss whatever we need to discuss at the end of the season based on where we are.

“Also based on what I think the club needs to go forward and based on what the club thinks and if that’s aligned with each other, then we’ll wait and see.

“But that discussion, it doesn’t happen in a morning or one day, it happens over a period of time and I just hope that we’re talking on a very positive nature on Monday morning and I have a hangover!”

Leeds’ top-flight status hinges on them beating Tottenham and even victory will not be enough to save them unless the results of both relegation rivals, Everton and Leicester, go their way.

Injuries to strikers Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo in last week’s 3-1 defeat at West Ham appeared to have dealt Leeds’ survival hopes another blow.

But Rodrigo returned to training on Friday while Bamford has not yet been ruled out and Allardyce said he would be prepared to take a risk with any of his injured players with so much at stake.

“I’ll gamble on anyone’s fitness if they want to play, if I think they can make a contribution to help us try to win the game,” Allardyce said.

“It’s the last game, they will have plenty of time to recover, but there is obviously medical issues where if you play them the risk is too great and a lot of it is up to the player himself.”

Leeds turned to Allardyce after sacking Javi Gracia with four games of the season remaining in a last-ditch bid to escape the drop.

The former Bolton, West Ham and Everton boss has collected just one point in his first three outings but said camp spirit had risen after last week’s bitter disappointment when survival was taken out of Leeds’ hands.

The 68-year-old, whose side have trained this week at Elland Road, added: “I’ve loved the mood and loved the application. We’re going to live or die on Sunday in terms of the result.

“We train here (at Elland Road) for three days building up to the game. Familiarity, it’s all about this arena on Sunday with obviously the fantastic atmosphere that will go with it.”

Lewis Miller wants Hibernian to turn Edinburgh green on Saturday as they look to beat city rivals Hearts to fourth spot in the cinch Premiership.

Hibs go into the final league weekend of the season two points behind their rivals but fresh from a 4-2 win over champions Celtic at Easter Road on Wednesday and with the bragging rights from last month’s 1-0 win over the men in maroon in Leith.

Miller, the 22-year-old year-old Australian full-back who signed from Central Coast Mariners last June, knows fourth spot guarantees European football albeit so could fifth place, providing Celtic beat Inverness in the Scottish Cup final.

He said: “European football is what everyone is talking about. That is what everyone is excited about.

“If we get this win against Hearts, not only will Edinburgh be green but we will also secure European football which will be unreal, for a boy coming from Australia, who is unheard of.

“We got the win in the last game against Hearts. That showed that we have developed and changed as a team.

“Confidence is sky high at the moment and I don’t think anyone scares us, no matter who we play. And the way we are playing I don’t think anyone can stop us.

“I have never played there (Tynecastle) before but obviously the atmosphere is going to be intense.

“It is a massive derby. I am excited. We have a lot of experienced players that will help guide the younger ones. It is going to be awesome.”

Miller hopes his move to Edinburgh leads to full international honours like his countrymen at Hearts, Kye Rowles, Nathaniel Atkinson, Cammy Devlin and Garang Kuol, who scored the late equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Rangers at Ibrox on Wednesday night.

Miller said: “The Scottish Premiership has a lot of Australian players and pretty much all of them play for the Socceroos.

“So hopefully I am next. Obviously everyone wants to play for their country.

“I think if I keep playing the way I am playing I should get there.

“European football is a lot better; tactics, speed technique. It is exactly what I needed to develop as a player.

“I am quite young and I think this is the perfect move for me and now it is slowly coming together.”

Boss Julen Lopetegui will continue talks with Wolves about his future.

Lopetegui’s long-term future at Molineux has been in the spotlight with uncertainty about his position.

Financial fair play regulations will impact the club’s spending power this summer and Lopetegui has previously said he only discovered the constraints last week.

He has been calling for investment since securing Premier League safety and the manager will continue to speak to chairman Jeff Shi about what backing he will receive.

He said: “We will see, we have to discuss with the chairman and owners. The most important thing is what the solution is going to be. When you have a problem you have to solve the problem.

“This is all. About my future, I have a contract and we will see what is going to happen, This is football, we don’t know.

“We have to talk, it’s not about one or two days. We have to talk about the solution and the future to be able to have a squad ready to compete again.

“This year has been a wake-up call. We have to learn why it has happened and to overcome and make our homework this summer. It’s not about one or two days. We need a clear picture.

“It’s important to have the squad ready. Maybe not 100 per cent of players but maybe 90 per cent. For me it’s very important, to have the squad ready to start working with us on July 1.”

Wolves to go Arsenal for Sunday’s Premier League finale and Joao Moutinho will not feature and is likely to have played his last game for the club as he is out of contract in the summer.

Sasa Kalajdzic (knee) is out while Lopetegui himself is banned from the touchline for collecting four yellow cards.

He added: “On Sunday we have an important match because it’s the last of the season. They have been very close to winning the Premier League and will want to make a good match in front of their fans. We have to be ready to compete with them.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.