Whelan sustained the injury during the Republic of Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Germany in Gelsenkirchen on October 14, forcing him off after 54 minutes of the Euro 2016 qualifier. The 30-year-old subsequently missed Stoke’s 2-1 victory over Swansea on Saturday, and is now unlikely to return until early December. Press Association Stoke midfielder Glenn Whelan has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a fracture of the right leg. It means Whelan will also miss Ireland’s group game with Scotland on November 14, along with a number of Stoke fixtures. City manager Mark Hughes said: “He got a kick on the outside of his leg, and there is a slight fracture there. “He’s not been put into a plaster cast. We’re going to try and manage it without that because Glenn feels he’ll get back sooner. “But the likelihood is he’s going to be out for four to six weeks I’d imagine, which is a blow for Glenn obviously because he is a big part of what we’re doing, and we’ll miss him. “He’s been playing really well of late, but we’ll get him back as soon as we can. “As for Ireland, knowing Glenn he’ll try and make himself available, but my feeling is the game will be too soon for him. “You have to let nature take it course. With fractures you have to give them enough time to heal.”
Bruce, 30, was first called up in October 2012 having switched his allegiance from the Republic of Ireland, who had capped him twice in friendlies. But in the intervening two years he has only managed to match that appearance record – starting in non-competitive matches against Malta and Cyprus. His preferred position in central defence represents Northern Ireland’s strongest suit – populated by the likes of Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley, Aaron Hughes, Craig Cathcart and Chris Baird, as well as emerging talents like Manchester United’s Paddy McNair and Doncaster’s Luke McCullough. While they travel to Romania this week attempting to make it four wins from four in Euro 2016 qualifying, Bruce is at home nursing a hamstring injury. He accepts it will be no easy task forcing his way back into manager Michael O’Neill’s plans but is ready for the challenge. “It’s not been an easy one for me but I feel I’ve got something to offer,” he told Press Association Sport. “You always want to play at the highest level possible and international football is that for me. “I didn’t play a lot for Hull early in the season so it was hard but I came back in against Liverpool and showed what I can do, so hopefully I can get back in the team and keep doing well. “I want to be back in the squad, especially with the lads doing so well, but at the same time I think Michael knows that at my age he doesn’t need to be taking me all over if he doesn’t think he’ll use me. “But there’s a European Championship in 2016 and there’s a chance of getting there. It’s a short career and that kind of chance doesn’t come along often so I’d love to be involved in helping get there.” Hull defender Alex Bruce has not given up on his Northern Ireland career. Bruce was last called up ahead of the Group F opener in Hungary but did not make the journey to Budapest due to the imminent arrival of his second child. “I was in the squad for the Hungary match in September and trained with the lads down at Arsenal but obviously Michael knew the situation with my wife going into labour and he was honest enough to say I wasn’t going to be starting so we made the sensible decision and I didn’t travel,” he added. “I wasn’t in the squad for the double header (against the Faroes and Greece) then, which is a shame, but they’ve not done too bad without me so it’s hard to complain. “I haven’t spoken to Michael recently but I know he’s had me watched quite a few times at Hull, so I’ll just keep trying to do my best here and fingers crossed I’ll hear something soon.” With hopes increasingly high that O’Neill can guide the side to a first ever European Championship, and first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup, Bruce’s versatility may yet be in his favour should the manager need adaptable players in his final squad. “I’ve not had a chance to play in central defence for Northern Ireland yet, which is my best position, but I’ve played a couple of times in midfield and I still think I can do a job there if needed,” he added. Press Association
In the 34th minute Mulgrew bulleted a header from a Maloney cross past the post from six yards as Scotland turned the screw and the home fans at last found their voice. Four minutes from the break Fletcher failed to get on the end of a Maloney cross after the former Celt delightfully pulled a Russell Martin pass out of the air, and another opportunity for Scotland was lost. O’Neill’s side came out for the second-half in a more purposeful mode and in the 50th minute, from a fine McGeady cross, Hanley did well to challenge Walters and concede a corner which came to nothing. Moments later, from another Irish corner, Walters’ flick was helped on by Long from close-range with the home fans palpably relieved to see Marshall make the save. Fletcher was replaced by Chris Martin but Marshall again came to Scotland’s rescue by pushing an angled-drive by McGeady past the far post for another James McClean corner, which he confidently plucked out the air. In the 65th minute, with the game tantalisingly balanced and not for those of a nervous disposition, Martin screwed a Steven Naismith pass inches past Forde’s left-hand post from eight yards out. Long and Darron Gibson were soon replaced by Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn in a double substitution but to no avail. From a whipped-in free-kick from Mulgrew, Walters headed the ball against the top of his own crossbar but the luck of the Irish immediately went missing. Maloney took a short corner to skipper Scott Brown, took the clever return pass and curled the ball from 16 yards past Forde and into the far corner and Parkhead erupted. O’Neill threw on Keane for Hendrick and the Scots were forced into some desperate defending but saw out four additional minutes – in which the ball came off their bar in a last-ditch Irish attack – to the cheers of the home fans who may already have the scent of France in their nostrils. Scotland go level on seven points with Ireland and Germany, with Poland Group D leaders with 10, but there are surely twists and turns still to come before the two automatic qualifying spots and the play-off place is secured. There had been plenty of guess work about personnel in an intense build-up to the game and the Scotland team sheet showed that Strachan, back at his former club, made three changes with left-back Andy Robertson, stopper Grant Hanley and midfielder Charlie Mulgrew returning as Steven Whittaker moved to right-back. Irish manager Martin O’Neill, another ex-Celtic boss, lost midfielders Glenn Whelan and James McCarthy to injury but the shock news was that skipper and top scorer Robbie Keane had been dropped to the bench. Republic fans had been officially allocated around 3,200 tickets but there were a few thousand more Irish accents in the ground at kick-off time, helping create quite a din, albeit it took quite a while for the stadium to fill up to almost its 60,000 capacity. Amid a cracking atmosphere the question of whether Republic of Ireland’s Scots-born winger Aiden McGeady would get booed on his return to his old ground was answered in the affirmative by the Tartan Army, who never let up. However, there was more for them to focus on in a frantic opening as Scotland keeper David Marshall was tested by Jon Walters before Scots striker Steven Fletcher headed a Maloney corner over the bar. A tetchiness then enveloped the match. In the 12th minute Hanley was booked by Serbian referee Milorad Mazic for a desperate tackle on Shane Long and then McGeady and Jeff Hendrick were shown yellows for fouls on Fletcher and Whittaker respectively. Gordon Strachan’s side had the best of a tense, frenetic first-half at Celtic Park but passed up a couple of good chances to take the lead. The visitors came out rejuvenated after the break however Scotland regained control with Wigan forward Maloney, back on his old stomping ground, curling the ball past David Forde in the 75th minute with technique fit to win any game. Scotland confirmed their 2016 European Championship qualifying credentials with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Republic of Ireland thanks to a wonderful second-half strike by Shaun Maloney Press Association
Press Association West Ham manager Sam Allardyce revealed ahead of Sunday’s Barclays Premier League meeting between the two clubs at Upton Park that the Hammers scouted Bony in 2013 when he was in prolific form at Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem. But Allardyce said he passed up the opportunity as he made the loan signing of Andy Carroll from Liverpool into a permanent £15million transfer and the finances were not available to sign both strikers with other team strengthening required. Swansea manager Garry Monk has suggested West Ham’s failure to land his top goalscorer Wilfried Bony was a sign they did not want him enough. “I look at what Wilf does for us and they will concentrate on what Andy Carroll does for them. “We managed to sign Wilfried and we’ve done a lot of development with him as far as the team is concerned. “He plays to our strengths, the team to play to his strengths and it obviously works for Wilfried and Swansea City.” Swansea’s 2-0 home win over QPR in midweek took them into seventh spot, two places and two points worse off than West Ham, who have enjoyed back-to-back victories over Newcastle and West Brom in the past week. “West Ham have done incredibly well, they’ve been up there from the very start and pushing all the way,” Monk said. “They’re a very good team with good quality throughout their squad and I’ve watched a lot of them this season. “Credit to the manager and club when you consider the noises coming out of there last season. Sam has done an exceptional job there. “They have tweaked a few things and do possibly try to play a bit more football. “But they can play direct as well with Andy Carroll and they’ve got a mixture of both.” Ivory Coast international Bony has since scored 31 times for Swansea to draw admiring glances from some of the biggest clubs in England, while the injury-hit Carroll has netted just twice for West Ham in that time. “It’s the first I’ve heard of it, but if that’s what they were doing they didn’t really want him enough,” Monk said responding to Allardyce’s comment at his pre-match press conference. “We obviously pursued Wilfried, he’s committed to us, we’re committed to him and the rest is history. “I’m sure every club could say they were looking at this player or that player, but at the end of the day he’s a Swansea player and we are very grateful for that. He’s proving what a good signing he is. “I’m not sure how far the (West Ham) discussions were down the line with Bony but for me they’re two different types of players. “They’ve got different strengths and they’re two very good players, and I think you’ll see in games this season what they can offer both teams.” Despite the far superior goals record of Bony – who Swansea signed for a club record £12million in the summer of 2013 – to England striker Carroll, Monk refused to be drawn into a debate about who is the better player. “I don’t look at who is the better player,” Monk said.
West Brom striker Saido Berahino is expected to be fit for the start of the new Barclays Premier League season after scans revealed no major damage to his knee. The Baggies’ performance director Dr Mark Gillett told the club’s official website, www.wba.co.uk: “Saido has got a ligamentous tear of his knee which does not require surgery, but careful rehabilitation for up to four weeks. “We are grateful to the England medical staff for putting Saido’s welfare first.” While the news may be positive for manager Tony Pulis, it could also prove encouraging for a series of his Premier League counterparts with Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle among those clubs linked with a move for the highly-rated player this summer. Berahino scored 20 goals last season, 14 of them in the league as West Brom finished in 13th place. Berahino was forced to withdraw from England’s European Under-21 Championship finals squad last week after suffering an injury in training, and returned to his club for a full assessment of the problem. Tests carried out on his right knee since have revealed a tear to one of the ligaments but nothing more serious and the Burundi-born 21-year-old faces weeks, rather than months, of rehabilitation without the need for surgery. Press Association
Press Association Johnstone will discuss his future with Van Gaal in the coming weeks and then make a call on whether to go to Preston, but he says any move would have to be temporary. “If I go back out I would like it to be a loan,” Johnstone said. “I have to see what happens here first. The manager here gives kids opportunities. I have been at this club since I was 10 years old so you have to look at it, speak to the right people and see what the club want from me. “If they tell me it is time to move on then it is time to move on, but I will keep working hard here and impressing the manager.” Johnstone will probably have to wait until the futures of David de Gea and Victor Valdes are resolved before he hears from Van Gaal about his plans for him. Grayson is not panicking about the situation. “We will be patient.. I think Sam is certainly worth waiting for,” the Preston boss said recently. Those comments have gone down well with Johnstone. Johnstone enjoyed a successful loan spell at his hometown club last year, helping them get promoted to the Sky Bet Championship via the play-offs. North End manager Simon Grayson has made it clear he wants to bring Johnstone back to Deepdale, but the 22-year-old has played the first two games of United’s pre-season tour and may consider staying to fight for a place in the first-team squad. Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone will hold talks with manager Louis van Gaal before deciding whether to re-join Preston on loan. “I saw what Simon Grayson said. It was good,” Johnstone said. “I enjoyed my time there. The manager, the lads, the fans and the goalkeeping coach were all great. “I never expected to be going to Preston permanently at the end of the season. There was talk about it. That is between the two clubs to decide.”
Even just two weeks ago a deal for the 27-year-old was improbable with the Baggies having no further contact with Sako’s camp. But Press Association Sport understands talks are back on between Sako and Albion with the wide man still searching for a club with just 12 days to go until the start of the Premier League season. Albion were keen to bring him to The Hawthorns in January but Wolves did not want to sell while they chased the Sky Bet Championship play-offs. Boss Tony Pulis has been searching for wingers having signed James McClean from Wigan and has also had a £5million bid rejected by Nottingham Forest for Michail Antonio. Ex-Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby has also been offered a contract by the club after he left the Gunners this summer. Sako, who has also been linked with Leicester, scored 38 goals in 124 games for Wolves, Albion’s close rivals, after moving from St Etienne in 2012. The Baggies have a long-standing interest in the Mali international but a deal looked dead earlier in the summer. Sako priced himself out of any move after he left Molineux at the end of last season with Albion baulking at his wage demands. West Brom have re-entered talks with Bakary Sako after the former Wolves winger lowered his wage demands. Press Association
Noble, who scored the second goal in his side’s 3-0 Barclays Premier League victory at Anfield on August 29, was sent off in the 78th minute when referee Kevin Friend judged him to have fouled Danny Ings. That decision was overturned on September 2, after Noble had insisted his challenge was not even worthy of a yellow card and manager Slaven Bilic was equally critical. West Ham have been fined £50,000 and warned over their future conduct following the behaviour of their players after midfielder Mark Noble’s dismissal at Liverpool last month. However, the Football Association charged the London club over the reaction of Noble’s team-mates following Friend’s decision and a statement from the governing body on Friday evening read: “Following an independent regulatory commission hearing, West Ham United have been fined £50,000 and warned as to their future conduct after an FA player misconduct charge brought against the club was found proven. “It was alleged that in or around the 78th minute of the game against Liverpool on 29 August 2015, West Ham failed to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion. “The club had admitted the charge and submitted a plea for mitigation.” Noble will be available for the Hammers’ game against Newcastle at Upton Park on Monday, when the Hammers could also welcome three of their deadline-day signings – Victor Moses, Michail Antonio and Nikica Jelavic – into their squad. Press Association
Sunderland chairman Ellis Short hopes to hold formal discussions with Sam Allardyce over the next 48 hours as he attempts to identify Dick Advocaat’s replacement. The Black Cats hope to have a new head coach – or manager, depending on the job description presented to potential candidates – in post before their next game, the Barclays Premier League trip to West Brom on October 17. Eight days later, they entertain struggling derby rivals Newcastle, a fixture which has seen the last three managers pitched into battle with their neighbours in their second game in charge and win on each occasion. But they are determined not to appoint in haste and get it wrong and if Allardyce, their preferred option, is not keen, they will move on and look to do so quickly. Sources on Wearside have indicated that there has been significant interest in the job vacated by 68-year-old Advocaat last Sunday despite their parlous league position – they lie 19th in the table and are yet to win a league game this season – although a shortlist of front-runners has been identified. Burnley’s Sean Dyche also interests Sunderland, but the compensation package which would be needed to prise him across the Pennines might prove prohibitive even if he could be tempted away from Turf Moor. Former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson and American Bob Bradley have also narrowed in the betting in recent days, although it is understood neither figures particularly prominently in the names being mentioned within the Stadium of Light. Despite days of speculation, which has seen the former West Ham boss’ odds for the job plummet, there has as yet been no direct contact with the dialogue between the two camps so far effectively limited to talks about talks. However, Press Association Sport understands Short is now in London and wants to know one way or the other if Allardyce, who is still on holiday in Spain, is interested in the vacancy and if so, what would be needed to persuade him to resume his career at the Stadium of Light. Press Association
Van Gaal urged Manchester United fans to boo him, rather than the team, if they are unhappy with how things are going in Saturday’s home match against West Brom. The United manager felt his players were affected by the tense atmosphere inside Old Trafford during the narrow 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday. United fans booed loudly when Van Gaal replaced Anthony Martial with Marouane Fellaini and “We’re Man United, we want to attack” was regularly sung by the home support, who had become annoyed at the often sterile, possession-based football the Dutchman enjoys so much. Van Gaal admits supporters are entitled to their opinion, but believes negativity is seeping through to the players. ”The supporters have to support the players, otherwise they make it very difficult for the players to play at Old Trafford,” he said. ‘I can only advise the fans to criticise the manager and not the players. It’s very difficult to play for Manchester United with a lot of pressure and you can taste that in Old Trafford because of all the yelling, then it’s not good for my players. ”It’s better to whistle the manager.” Despite boasting an impressive CV, Van Gaal has encountered opposition from supporters throughout his 24-year management career. Ajax fans resisted his appointment as manager as Van Gaal was an enemy of club hero Johan Cruyff. And when Van Gaal returned to Barcelona for a second spell as manager, he lasted six months after the supporters turned on him. Given the torrid year they endured under David Moyes, United supporters still are mindful that it would be too far to stage an open revolt against Van Gaal, especially when the Red Devils are fourth in the league and on the verge of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages. Press Association Louis van Gaal insists he is ready to deal with any flak that comes with his way at Old Trafford this weekend. But if any more negativity comes his way, Van Gaal is certainly ready for it. “I can cope with it because I have had a lot of experience in my life as a manager,” he added. “When I started as a 39-year-old coach with Ajax, all the fans were shouting, from the very first day, ‘Johan Cruyff’, until we won the UEFA Cup and then it was finished. “In Barca we had white handkerchiefs. In my first period we were champions, champions, and we won the cup, so it was not like that, but it my second period in Barcelona it was always the white handkerchiefs. “In Bayern Munich, I had the same in my second year, so I, as a manager, am used to these negative things, I think. “But the number of fans is, of course, much higher with Manchester United, because we have the most fans in the world.” When it was put to him that he could win the fans over, as he did with Holland, Van Gaal said: “I hope that your words make it true.” For now, Van Gaal’s main challenge is overcoming a West Brom team who are likely to be just as defensively-minded as CSKA were on Tuesday. Last season the Baggies played in a rigid 5-4-1 formation and won all three points after Chris Brunt’s free-kick struck Jonas Olsson and beat David de Gea. United went into the last two international breaks on the back of defeats and the Dutchman does not want a repeat this time. “It has happened to us twice now, against Swansea and Arsenal. It is awful,” Van Gaal said. “Now we are playing at home, but we are playing at home against a team who we lost against last season here, so it shall be difficult. “But I hope we win, then we can have a fortnight after we have won, and not lost. Van Gaal will give a late test to Morgan Schneiderlin, who missed the match against CSKA through illness. ”He shall train today (Friday) for the first time so we have to wait and see,” Van Gaal told MUTV.