Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes their current status as Premier League leaders has made a “statement” but knows the situation can quickly unravel.

Their lead over Manchester City is a point and two over third-placed Arsenal, but Klopp admitted maintaining their winning run was the only way to stay ahead of the chasing pack and their advantage was balanced on a knife edge due to injuries ravaging his squad.

There are similarities to two years ago when Liverpool also had 60 points after 26 matches – although that was only good enough to be three points behind City – and were chasing another quadruple.

On that occasion they finished with a domestic cup double but finished runners-up in the league by a point on 92 and lost the Champions League final.

However, with 10 first-team players still currently sidelined, Klopp said the two campaigns were not comparable.

“It is only one point above City and two points above Arsenal but that means nothing,” he said.

“Sixty points is a statement for that moment in the season but stay on 60 and I am not sure you qualify for the Champions League to be honest so we had better continue winning football games.

“It was a much more comfortable squad situation (two years ago). As far as I remember we could make massive changes between competitions.

“You cannot really compare it but it showed us you can fight for everything and win something.

“Some people will be happy with that and some will tell you it was not enough but for us, it was a successful season and let’s hope we can make a successful season out of this one.”

Leading scorer Mohamed Salah is set to return to training next week, probably two weeks behind schedule, but Klopp will have fellow forward Darwin Nunez and midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai available for Saturday’s trip to Nottingham Forest after missing three and six matches out respectively.

“I don’t think Mo is too far off. It’s like touch and go but I think next week at any point, it is possible,” added Klopp, who also expects to be able to call on midfielder Wataru Endo after his ankle injury at Wembley and left-back back Andy Robertson, who was ill in midweek.

Since their second league defeat of the season at Arsenal a month ago, Liverpool have won five successive matches – one of them being the Carabao Cup final and another an FA Cup fifth-round tie – with a depleted team.

But Klopp denied the result at the Emirates Stadium had given them extra incentive.

“The results are incredibly important but I wouldn’t call it ‘a response to the Arsenal game’, we didn’t use it in that way,” he said.

“I didn’t say ‘Look at that, now we have to show a reaction’. We always have to show a reaction. But first and foremost you have to show a reaction to yourself.

“It was a one-off: Arsenal were really good, we were not as good as we could have been and that can happen in a season.

“But if you can only reach your targets when you win all your games, it is really difficult – not even City did that even when they came close.

“You have to use the lesser good things as much as you have to use the good things and against Arsenal, unfortunately, there were a few more lesser good things.

“But we never used it, it was not ‘Come on boys, we have to show we are not as bad as we were that night’, not at all.”

Tottenham have been dealt a fresh injury blow with Richarlison ruled out for up to four weeks with a knee injury.

Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou has been without several players this season for prolonged periods, but appeared to have an almost fully-fit squad to pick from when Pape Sarr, Yves Bissouma and Son Heung-min returned from international duty last month.

However, Richarlison sustained a knee issue in the 2-1 defeat to Wolves a fortnight ago, while Pedro Porro (muscle) remains out to join Fraser Forster (ankle), Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) and Manor Solomon (knee) on the treatment table ahead of Saturday’s visit of Crystal Palace.

“Destiny (Udogie) has trained but Pedro is probably another week away,” Postecoglou revealed.

“We do have a couple of (other) injuries. Richarlison is out for three to four weeks. He picked up a knee injury in the last game so he will be out for a little while.

“Richy is disappointed because he’s been a key contributor but again it is kind of how our season has gone. We get one back and lose another.

“With Sess, it is a tough one because through no fault of his own, he has worked hard to come back and it is always more challenging when it happens as a series of events.

“He hasn’t really had any reward for the hard work he has put in, in terms of his rehab, to at least get out there and play, to do what he loves, to show people his ability. It is a tough one for him but he’ll get all the support he needs.

“He has had his surgery now and is still a positive guy. He has been through this before, so hopefully that helps him to come back stronger and get out there playing.”

Jack Grealish is unlikely to be fit for England’s friendlies against Brazil and Belgium later this month, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said.

The City midfielder suffered a recurrence of a recent groin injury in the club’s FA Cup win at Luton on Tuesday.

Grealish was substituted after just 38 minutes of the 6-2 victory at Kenilworth Road, cutting short what had been his first appearance in four games.

He has been ruled out of Sunday’s derby against Manchester United in the Premier League and Guardiola said at a press conference on Friday he was unlikely to play again before the next international break.

Guardiola said: “I don’t think so. I haven’t spoken with (England manager) Gareth (Southgate) but I don’t think he will be ready.

“When he will come back, I don’t know exactly. He will not be fit for this weekend.

“I think he has to recover well. He has had a setback and he has to recover well for us to use him as much as possible.”

England host Brazil at Wembley on March 23 and Belgium three days later as part of their Euro 2024 preparations.

Grealish has had a difficult season having struggled for form and fitness and seen team-mates excel in his place.

The 28-year-old had been one of the most consistent performers during City’s 2022-23 treble-winning campaign.

Guardiola is confident he will bounce back from this latest problem.

The Spaniard said: “Yes, he doesn’t have an alternative. Setbacks in life are always there, it is how you overcome them.”

Andre Onana believes he has turned the corner off the pitch after a mentally “difficult time” during his start to life at Manchester United.

Having joined in the summer from Inter Milan in a deal that could reach £47.2million, a string of errors quickly led pressure and scrutiny to mount on the 27-year-old shot-stopper.

Onana became the butt of jokes but has knuckled down and is starting to become the confident, ball-playing goalkeeper Erik ten Hag and United wanted.

 

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“I already know the goalkeeper that I am,” the Cameroon international said. “It took me six months or seven months not to play good, just to feel good.

“It was a difficult time for me. Now I’m feeling a bit better because everything was new, it was difficult for me to feel at home because of so many reasons, a new country.

“But now I’m feeling good. I don’t want to talk about my performance because I know the goalkeeper I am and I have done much more than what I just did.

“So, for me, the most important thing is to be set, to be happy and I will shine.”

Onana spoke openly about his challenging start to life in England ahead of facing rivals Manchester City, who he produced a fantastic display against as Inter narrowly lost June’s Champions League final.

“I don’t think (I was beating myself up too much after errors), but it was just moments,” the United goalkeeper said.

“Sometimes you are facing difficult situations and I had a difficult six or seven months just feeling good, not playing good, because I think I didn’t start to play good (yet).

“It was just something strange, I don’t know. It was also a good time for me to learn because I learned a lot at that time.

“Playing in the final of the Champions League and being knocked out in the first stage after a few months, it was a big lesson for me.

“Now I think I have everything on my back, learn it and move on, try to be happy. That is the most important thing.”

Onana’s errors during United’s European exit were costly, but his performances have since improved markedly and he believes he is now on an upward curve.

“Yeah, I think I had a turning point, but not on the pitch because, like I said, more mental because everything was different,” he said.

“Of course, I moved last season from Amsterdam to Milan, but that adaptation was quite easy.

“But it took me seven, eight months here. It was just time to learn and just go game by game. I hope we will end on top.”

Onana produced another solid display as United kept hopes alive of ending a bumpy campaign with silverware by beating Nottingham Forest 1-0 in the FA Cup fifth round.

How Ten Hag’s men could do with another clean sheet away to their treble-winning rivals on Sunday, when the goalkeeper wants to continue to repay the faith shown in him.

 

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“My team-mates, my players, they always reminded me who I am and the goalkeeper I am and why I came to this club,” Onana said.

“They told me ‘Andre, it took some players two years, others six months, for others no time, and you have that personality to turn the situation (around)’.

“They always believed in me, they told me from the beginning, ‘Andre, listen, the quality is there, it’s just a matter of time.’

“I am very happy, especially with the supporters, the fans. They were nice with me even in difficult periods and I’m very thankful. I can only thank them.

“I think everything is behind me. Now we have to move on and I think together a great time will come. We just have to do the right things and I think the future will be brilliant for all of us.”

Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema has suffered another injury setback after head coach Jonas Eidevall revealed she requires knee surgery.

The 27-year-old Netherlands international missed almost 10 months last year following an ACL injury suffered in December 2022.

She has made just four Women’s Super League appearances since returning to action in October and now faces “several weeks” back on the sidelines.

“She requires a minor knee surgery and that is going to have her off the pitch for several weeks,” Eidevall said.

“We will have an update on that after the surgery and when we see how she is progressing.”

Miedema had played for the Dutch in the recent international break but Eidevall played down any suggestions of a club versus country row as a result.

“We have good communication with all the national teams that we work with,” he added.

“But we also have to have a lot of respect for the autonomy in the decision-making and the Netherlands were playing some really, really important games for them – both for a Nations League trophy and maybe, more importantly, for Olympic qualification.

“They also need to take the decisions that are best for them. What is important in all these conversations is that I always think that we put the player in the forefront and we are trying to find solutions that are the best for the player, and we need to cooperate.

“She doesn’t need the surgery because of those 45 minutes she played against Spain. She would have needed the surgery anyway for it.

“It was nothing that the Dutch team did that complicated this here or made the situation worse. It was a situation that needed to be fixed anyway.”

Eddie Howe has insisted he will dictate his own future at Newcastle amid speculation linking the Germany head coach Julian Nagelsmann with his job.

The Magpies head into Saturday’s Premier League clash with Wolves sitting in 10th place and way off the pace they set last season to secure a top-four finish.

A report from Germany has claimed Newcastle could turn to the former Bayern boss if they decide to replace Howe at the end of the campaign.

Asked about the speculation, Howe said: “Genuinely, it doesn’t affect me. I’m here. I’m sat in the seat. My future will be defined by what I do, no one else.”

Howe has made a major impact at St James’ Park since his appointment in November 2021, first steering the club out of a relegation fight and then masterminding a charge to last season’s Carabao Cup final and Champions League qualification.

He freely admits that represented a significant overachievement, and a premature exit from Europe coupled with a far more mundane campaign this time around, one which has been peppered with injuries to key players, have led to a degree of criticism.

However, head coach Howe remains defiant as he plots a strong finish having seen his side book a difficult FA Cup quarter-final trip to Manchester City in midweek.

He said: “It’s up to me to continually prove [myself]. I back myself and my ability. I know my qualities. I know what I bring to the job and I have ambitions for the team and the club.

“I can’t control what people write and what speculation there is in every sense. I don’t try to get involved in it.”

Howe was appointed by the club’s new owners within weeks of their takeover and has enjoyed solid support for the work he has done so far.

He said: “From the people at the club – it is difficult for me to speak for them – I have felt a support and an understanding for things that have been thrown at us and things that have happened. It is important I feel that support.”

Whatever pressure Howe finds himself under, he at least has an outlet after revealing his efforts to learn how to play the piano are ongoing.

Asked if his wife and sons were impressed by his efforts, he said with a smile: “No, they’re not impressed. The two elder sons that play are both better than me.

“When I’m playing the piano, I’m not thinking of 4-3-3 or 4-4-2. It is a chance to get away. It’s a rare moment for me to do that because in most other parts of my life, like walking the dog or going to sleep, I’m thinking about football.

“But the rare things you can occupy your brain with do take you away from the game.”

When it was suggested he might have to perform karaoke if his team won the FA Cup, he replied: “If we win a cup, I’ll do anything.”

Arsenal winger Katie McCabe hopes football’s governing bodies will heed calls to solve a calendar congestion issue she sees as potentially detrimental to players and fans.

The Gunners have already sold more than 58,000 tickets for Sunday’s north London derby, two weeks after selling 60,160 for a first-time Women’s Super League sell-out at the Emirates Stadium before the international break.

But in order for teams to deliver an on-pitch product worthy of those legions, stressed the Republic of Ireland captain, players need adequate time to allow their bodies to recover from the increasingly demanding nature of the elite women’s game.

She told the PA news agency: “I think for us to be playing at our best and to be giving those record crowds good games to watch we need to be fresh.

“With the FIFA window, and obviously the Euro qualifiers window, it’s incredible how they’ve moved an international camp in the middle of summer and thinking that was a good idea.

“It’s difficult. Obviously we are footballers, we want to be able to play the games, but we also want to feel that freshness going into it as well. It’s really difficult for us, but we obviously need to keep going.

“Unfortunately it’s not in our power as players, we want the governing bodies to listen to us and to make sure there’s change with that as well, because it’s not going to be solved in the way it’s being solved right now.”

McCabe’s sentiments echo those of Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango, who at a summit earlier this week pointed to what he felt was a depleted Manchester City side for last season’s men’s Champions League final, saying: “For us, we’ve reached a stage where it is not just about the health of the player, it is (also) about us killing the product.”

The growing women’s game faces similar scheduling challenges and player welfare concerns, particularly for athletes representing national teams alongside top sides like Arsenal, who currently sit third in the WSL and three points behind both Chelsea and Manchester City.

McCabe, like so many in her squad, has just returned from international duty to an injury-depleted Gunners side not just competing for the title but still alive in the Continental Tyres League Cup, which will crown a winner at the end of this month.

Euro 2025 qualifiers begin in April before the WSL season concludes on May 18, preceded by the FA Cup final and followed by the Champions League decider the following weekend – with league leaders Chelsea still in contention for a quadruple.

The second batch of European qualifiers are scheduled for the end of May, followed by more in mid-July – and though the next WSL season does not start until September 21, whoever finishes third this campaign will be in Champions League action during the first week of that month.

While McCabe is leaving what she cannot control to the powers that be, she and her team-mates have embraced wearable GPS-tracking technology to help with injury prevention, monitor fitness and performance and better inform decisions made by strength and conditioning coaches.

She said: “We’re quite competitive, so for us we’re always interested in the nitty-gritty things. I know when I’ve hit certain metrics in a game, I feel like I’ve had a good game, and we’re able to look at numbers throughout the week so we’re not underloaded or overloaded going into games.

“We just concentrate on what we can control and take each game as it comes. Teams are taking points off everybody, so let’s start again on Sunday.”

Katie McCabe is an ambassador and investor for the world’s leading GPS performance tracker, STATSports.

Marc Skinner hopes Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment in Manchester United provides a “springboard” for success for the women’s team.

Ratcliffe last week completed a deal to purchase a 27.7 per cent stake in United that sees his Ineos company take control of football operations at the club.

United’s women’s side, relaunched in 2018 and managed by Skinner since 2021, achieved best finishes of runners-up in the Women’s Super League and FA Cup last term. They currently sit fourth in the WSL, 10 points adrift of leaders Chelsea.

Skinner told a press conference on Friday: “We (he and Ratcliffe) have not managed to meet yet, I know it’s on the horizon very soon.

“But we have our constant kind of feed through our bosses anyway in terms of kind of how we want to go forwards, what’s going to work and there’s a lot to do.

“I see it as a real positive move. I think if you know me as a character, my energy is full in, I’m all in so with my energy, coupled with the fantastic movement of the Ineos investment, I think it’s a real positive moment.

“We have to capitalise on that, we’re going to try to do that, we’re going to put all our behaviours in place for that. It’s hopefully a springboard for everybody to find the success that everybody wants for Man United.”

Ratcliffe has spoken about the possibility of the club building a new stadium, with Old Trafford becoming the regular home for the women’s and academy teams.

Asked about that, Skinner said: “I’m sure that’s a little bit away.

“We love playing at Leigh Sports Village, it’s become a fortress but obviously it’s a special occasion when you play at Old Trafford.

“We’re excited about any of the plans that come. It feels like a real positive movement. Whatever the plans may be, we have to continue to align our positive energy towards that movement. That’s our aim.

“If it comes down the line and that’s what happens, then I’m sure there will be some fantastic games at the stadium.”

Skinner was speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s WSL trip to West Ham.

Eric Dier has triggered an option to make his move to Bayern Munich permanent this summer, the PA news agency understands.

Tottenham defender Dier joined Bayern in January on an initial loan deal until the end of the season for a fee in the region of 4million euros.

With Dier’s Spurs contract set to expire on June 30, an option to make his transfer to the Bundesliga champions permanent if he made a certain number of appearances was included in the deal.

Dier has played six times for Thomas Tuchel’s team, which includes four starts, and has now triggered a new 12-month contract to keep him at Bayern until the summer of 2025.

It will officially bring to an end Dier’s time at Tottenham, where he made 365 appearances during a nine-and-a-half-year spell with the Premier League club before he followed England team-mate Harry Kane to Munich.

What the papers say

The future of Luis Diaz at Liverpool is dependent on whether Mohamed Salah agrees a new deal. The Sun reports the club would listen to offers for the Colombia forward, 27, if Salah, 31, agrees a fresh deal.

Arsenal are looking to begin talks with Italy midfielder Jorginho, 32, over a new contract, reports the Evening Standard. He has been linked with a return to Serie A.

Conor Gallagher is continuing to catch the eye of Tottenham. The Daily Mail says the club are ready to move for the England midfielder, 24, in the summer.

Getafe are keen to talk with Manchester United about a deal for Mason Greenwood. The Times reports the Spanish club are interested in another loan deal or a permanent move for the forward, 22.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Trevoh Chalobah: The English defender, 24, is disappointed Chelsea are willing to sell him in the summer, according to Teamtalk.

Raoul Bellanova: Manchester United and Aston Villa have watch Torino’s Italian right-back, 23, reports Italian outfit Tuttosport.

Athletic Bilbao swept past Atletico Madrid 3-0 at Estadio San Mames to seal their place in the Copa del Rey final.

Leading 1-0 from the opening leg, first-half goals from brothers Nico and Inaki Williams put the hosts in control of the tie.

Gorka Guruzeta swept in a third on the hour as Athletic secured a final date with Real Mallorca.

The visitors created an early opening when Samuel Lino’s effort was straight at Bilbao keeper Julen Agirrezabala.

Bilbao broke the deadlock in the 13th minute when Nico Williams got to the left goalline and chipped a lofted cross back through the penalty area and his brother Inaki crashed home a volley.

The Williams brothers soon combined again, this time Inaki fed Nico on the wing and his shot flew narrowly wide of the right post.

Atletico pushed for a response as Angel Correa fired over the crossbar after being picked out by Alvaro Morata’s pass.

There was a brief stoppage in play around the 35th minute as a spectator needed medical treatment in the stands, but the game soon resumed.

Bilbao doubled their lead in the 42nd minute when Inaki Williams was played clear down the right and held off Atletico defender Mario Hermoso before cutting the ball back for Nico to stab in from close range.

The start of the second half saw another delay for a different fan in the record crowd of 52,061 packed into the Cathedral to receive medical assistance, eventually being carried away on a stretcher.

Athletic Bilbao later confirmed the person had been struggling to breathe, but was stabilised and taken to hospital.

When the action restarted, Nico Williams was soon involved again to send Oihan Sancet clear on goal, but his shot was fired well over the crossbar.

Atletico boss Diego Simeone tried to spark some life into his side with a triple change after 54 minutes, with Memphis Depay, Reinildo Mandava and Pablo Barrios sent on to replace Nahuel Molina, Hermoso and Correa.

Any hopes of a comeback, though, were ended in the 61st minute when Guruzeta knocked in a rebound after Sancet’s angled effort had been pushed out by Madrid keeper Jan Oblak.

Depay’s angled free-kick was acrobatically saved by Agirrezabala before Saul Niguez headed wide as Bilbao saw out the closing stages to reach the Copa del Rey final at La Cartuja for the first time since 2021.

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has hit back following criticism concerning his commitment to the club.

The 26-year-old England international has faced questions this season for issues both on and off the field.

Last month Rashford was under the spotlight after reportedly being seen in a Belfast nightclub before missing the following day’s training due to illness and he subsequently missed United’s FA Cup tie against Newport.

However, in a piece for the Players’ Tribune website, Rashford has responded to his critics, asking them to show “a bit more humanity”.

“When I make a mistake, I’ll be the first one to put my hand up and say that I need to do better,” he wrote.

“But if you ever question my commitment to Man United, that’s when I have to speak up. It’s like somebody questioning my entire identity, and everything I stand for as a man.

“I grew up here. I have played for this club since I was a boy. My family turned down life-changing money when I was a kid so I could wear this badge.

“I can take any criticism. I can take any headline. From podcasts, social media and the papers. I can take it.

“But if you start questioning my commitment to this club and my love for football and bringing my family into it, then I’d simply ask you to have a bit more humanity.”

Rashford came under scrutiny in October last year after attending a nightclub party following United’s 3-0 home derby defeat to Manchester City.

He has also faced criticism for performances on the pitch having scored only five goals in 32 appearances across all competitions this season.

The forward suggested there is a “tone” to media coverage surrounding him, which he believes may stem from his campaigning for free school meals during the pandemic in which he was made an MBE.

Rashford added: “I’m not trying to have a go at the media. I understand the game, you know what I mean? They’re not really writing about me. It’s like they’re writing about this character, ‘Marcus Rashford.’

“It can’t just be about me as a 26-year-old lad on a night out, or a lad getting a parking ticket. It’s got to be about how much my car costs, guessing my weekly salary, my jewellery or even my tattoos.

“It’s got to be about my body language, and questioning my morals, and speculating about my family, and my football future.

“There’s a tone to it that you don’t get with all footballers. Let’s just leave it at that.

“I think some of it goes back to the pandemic. I was just trying to use my voice to make sure that kids weren’t going hungry, because I know exactly how it feels.

“For some reason, that seemed to rub certain people the wrong way. It seems like they’ve been waiting for me to have a human moment so they can point the finger and say, ‘See? See who he really is?’.”

Trinidad and Tobago's Head coach Angus Eve has included two new overseas-based players in a 26-member squad to face Jamaica in a two-match friendly series this weekend.

The two games to be held Friday and Sunday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, and the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar, are being used to help Eve finalise his Soca Warriors squad for the Copa America playoff against Canada, on March 23, while the Jamaicans are also in preparation mode of their Concacaf Nations League semi-final clash with United States, scheduled for March 21.

Kick off for the friendly encounters are scheduled for 3:00pm and 4:00pm Trinidad and Tobago time.

Canadian League One midfielder Kai Garvey (Simcoe County Rovers FC) and English League Two forward Justin Obikwu (Coventry City), are the overseas-based players called up by Eve, with Jamaica-based forward Nathaniel James, midfielder Kaile Auvray (both of Mount Pleasant) and defender Josiah Trimmingham (Montego Bay Utd), also included.

Also breaking into the senior team is in-form Under-20 forward Michael Chaves (QPCC), who just concluded their Concacaf Championship campaign on Tuesday.

Uncapped players such as Shervohnez Hamilton (Club Sando), Rhondel Gibson (Eagles FC), Liam Burns (AC Port of Spain) and Kai Moos (Club Sando) were also selected.

The remaining players all hail from the Trinidad and Tobago Premier Football League (TTPFL) tier one and includes regulars such as Duane Muckette, John-Paul Rochford, Nathaniel Garcia, Michel Poon Angeron, Denzil Smith and Christopher Bigette among others.

Eve is expecting players to give of their best, especially with spots on the line for the Copa America playoff.

“We had a mini camp over the Carnival period where we saw some new players and we wanted to see them in a real match environment, and now this is an opportunity for them to get proper match practice so we could see them play. We have some new players. Unfortunately, some of them got injured in the last couple games in the TTPFL matches so they’re not here right now," Eve shared.

The Soca Warriors play Canada on March 23, at the Toyota Stadium in Texas, with the winner to progress to Copa America Group A, alongside FIFA World Cup champions Argentina, two-time champions Peru and Chile.

Eve expressed pleasure with the continued expansion of his talent pool continues to grow. He also expressed gratitude to former national coaches Dennis Lawrence and Stephen Hart for their role in getting Obikwu and Garvey on board.

“When these types of coaches recommend people, you must take a look at them. We’ve seen tapes of them, and this is our opportunity to see them live,” said Eve.

Meanwhile, Friday’s game will be closed to fans due to a setup being done at the venue for Carifta trials this weekend. However, spectators can view Sunday’s match at Larry Gomes Stadium at a cost of $50.

Both Games can be seen on SportsMax and SportsMax 2.

Trinidad and Tobago Squad -Denzil Smith (Club Sando), Adrian Foncette (Police FC), Christopher Biggette (Defence Force), Alvin Jones (Police FC), Jamal Jack (Club Sando), Justin Garcia (Defence Force), Robert Primus (Police FC), Josiah Trimmingham (Montego Bay FC), Shervohnez Hamilton (Club Sando), Ross Russell Jr (La Horquetta Rangers), Duane Muckette (AC PoS), John-Paul Rochford (ACPoS), Justin Sadoo (Defence Force), Kaile Auvrau (Mount Pleasant), Kai Moos (Club Sando), Kevon Goddard (Defence Force), Liam Burns (AC PoS), Nathaniel Garcia (Defence Force), Michel Poon Angeron (AC PoS), Kai Garvey (Simcoe County Rovers), Rhondel Gibson (Club Sando), Kaihim Thomas (Defence Force), Nathaniel James (Mount Pleasant), Jem Gordon (1976 Phoenix FC), Justin Obikwu (Coventry City), Michael Chaves (QPCC)

Stefano Pioli called for his AC Milan side to be more “cynical” in front of goal ahead of their Serie A trip to Lazio as they look to turn the heat up on second-placed Juventus.

Milan were held to a 1-1 home draw by Atalanta in their last fixture – having lost to Monza and Rennes in their previous two matches – leaving them four points behind Juve in the Serie A standings and just five ahead of in-form Bologna in fourth pace.

The Rossoneri will now be eager to get back to winning ways against Lazio on Friday and coach Pioli wants his side’s performance to be consistent, calling for additional cutting edge up front.

“We want to produce the same performance as last week whilst aiming for a different result,” Pioli said on his club’s website.

“We analysed the positives after Atalanta but also tried to understand why we couldn’t score one more than them because we had the chance to. We need to be more cynical”.

Lazio have lost three of their last five Serie A matches, winning the other two, and will also be keen to get back on track after surrendering a half-time lead to lose 2-1 at Fiorentina last time out.

That was the second time in three matches Lazio have ended up empty-handing after taking the lead, and left them eighth in the table, eight points off the top four.

Pioli believes Maurizio Sarri’s “motivated” team will bring the fight to them at the Stadio Olimpico, where Lazio are playing only their second home match in six league outings.

Pioli also ruled out resting any of his players ahead of next week’s Europa League last-16 first leg at home to Sparta Prague.

“They (Lazio) are a team with great quality that comes off the back of an unsatisfactory performance,” said Pioli.

“They will be motivated but can also be thrown off by playing with intensity. The game against Slavia Prague will be very important, we are studying them but are fully focused on Lazio.

“Then we will have an almost full week, there won’t be changes in Rome in order to rest players. I believe that both sides will try to play with different ideas. The midfield battles will be very important”.

While Milan will still hold hope of overhauling Juve in second spot, Pioli concedes that city rivals Inter are unlikely to be caught by any team.

Runaway leaders Inter sit 12 points at the top of the table having won 22 of their 26 matches this season, losing just once and conceding only 12 goals.

Pioli said: “I think that the top spot in the league is decided, Inter are recording incredible numbers as Napoli did last year.

“April 21 (Milan derby) is too far away. We have a big game ahead of us and there are various goals to meet before we think about the derby.”

Paris St Germain coach Luis Enrique insists they will have a better team next season even after the expected departure of star forward Kylian Mbappe.

It is understood the 25-year-old France international, whose contract expires at the end of the season, has told the club he wants to join Real Madrid this summer, a move which has been touted for a number of years.

“It doesn’t cross my mind that the team will be weaker next season. I’m absolutely sure,” Enrique told a press conference ahead of Friday’s match against Mbappe’s former club Monaco.

“If everything goes well, I think and I’m convinced that we’ll have a better team next season.

“Me, I always want to try to improve the team and I think there is always a way to improve.”

PSG, who have an 11-point advantage at the top over Brest, have lost just once in Ligue 1 this season – back in September and are on course for a 10th title in the last 12 years.

“I am very happy with all the efforts we made, with the results we obtained,” added Enrique.

“We are following a very good trajectory. Now we are entering a difficult period, the key period, the best of the season.

“It’s all or nothing, and it’s a feeling we love. We have to continue to be true to our idea, to what got us here, to try to dominate the matches from the start.

“We don’t need to improve the general idea, but we need to improve the details.”

While Monaco are currently third they are 13 points behind and have lost six times this season, including four at home.

“Monaco are one of the best teams in the league and a direct competitor of ours in the title race,” said the PSG boss.

“We know that we’ve got a tough game ahead of us tomorrow, so we’ll put out a highly competitive side.”

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