Reds fan Odegaard pondering future

first_imgNorwegian prodigy Martin Odegaard admits Liverpool are his dream club but that will not influence any decision on his future. Press Association The teenager was known to be one of the brightest properties in Europe even before he made his debut for the national senior side last month aged just 15, becoming the youngest player to feature in a European Championship qualifier. He has already trained with the youth teams of Bundesliga sides Bayern Munich and Stuttgart – and also met Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp – has visited Real Madrid and is set to see Liverpool’s facilities for himself next month. center_img And while the Stromsgodset midfielder has followed his father in becoming a Reds fan, he is confident that will not affect his thinking when he makes his next career choice, most likely in the summer. “Liverpool have always been my dream club,” Odegaard told German newspaper Sport Bild. “But I will not let this affect my decision when I choose a new club. “It’s all about finding the team that is best for me and for my development. That is not necessarily Liverpool. “I haven’t really thought about my future yet. I will end the season here and then visit a number of clubs. I have not made a final decision yet, though. “Of course, it’s flattering when you hear that big clubs are after you, but I don’t think about it too often.” Last week Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, speaking after their 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League, was reluctant to talk about Odegaard but did praise his qualities. “I know he’s a big talent, at that age to be playing senior football at 15 and in a competitive league,” said the Northern Irishman. “He’s got wonderful ability and wonderful talent, but there’s nothing much more to say on him.” last_img read more

Martinez keen to cure McCarthy woes

first_img The midfielder returned from a short spell out with a hamstring problem last weekend but limped off after only half an hour of Thursday’s Europa League clash against Wolfsburg. It seems highly unlikely he will feature in Sunday’s match against Tottenham at White Hart Lane but Martinez insisted he did not regret playing the midfielder in Germany. Everton boss Roberto Martinez is determined to get to the bottom of James McCarthy’s hamstring issues. Press Association “His body is getting used to the demands of playing European football and international football and the domestic competition, so we need to make sure we find the right balance. “That could go as far as nutrition, making sure the balance between rest and playing is right, and we’re going to help him in that respect. “But it’s one of those injuries that comes for the right reasons. He’s whole-hearted and he gives everything in every performance.” Everton’s treatment room has been very busy in recent weeks but Martinez is hoping he will have up to four players back on Sunday. Full-back Leighton Baines and striker Steven Naismith have also had hamstring issues while Gareth Barry has been sidelined by an ankle problem and Steven Pienaar a knee issue. Martinez is still set to be without Darron Gibson, Bryan Oviedo, John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz but striker Arouna Kone is finally fully fit. The Ivory Coast international has not played a first-team match for more than a year but was on the bench as Everton beat Wolfsburg 2-0 to book their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League. Martinez said: “After the exercise that he had with the under-21s against Celtic on Tuesday, he looked really free and he was pain free. “It’s a really good sign for us. Now it’s making sure he gets good work in in training and is ready to help the team and enjoy his football. It’s been a long time coming.” The Toffees boss said: “We’re going to get him checked today. The reaction was good from last night but we’ll find out exactly what the extent is. “It’s the hamstring that he had a bit of trouble with beforehand and we need to assess it with a lot of intention. It’s a serious problem because it’s a problem he’s had before and we need to make sure we find the root of the problem. “I would have had regrets if the injury had happened in the 80th minute, because clearly then it’s because the tissues were fatigued and you’re running a bigger risk. “Football is a contact sport and you always run the risk of injuries. Yesterday was different. It was after 10/15 minutes, the soft tissues should have been in good condition. “If you could predict what could happen, obviously you would stop those sort of incidents.” McCarthy has been hugely impressive since following Martinez from Wigan to Goodison Park in the summer of 2013. “The reason that he’s been affected with these sort of injuries is because of the amount of games he’s been playing,” said Martinez. “He’s a young man and he’s played a huge amount of games, I think it’s over 160 Premier League fixtures already, which is an incredible figure. last_img read more

Dyche: Clarets hungry for more wins

first_img Written off before the start of the season, the Clarets’ prospects appeared bleak when they failed to win any of their first 10 league games. But successive victories over Hull and Stoke have taken Burnley’s points tally into double figures and lifted them off the bottom of the table. For Dyche, though, the winless run was not a catastrophe – just as two wins do not mean survival is suddenly on the cards. He said: “I don’t think it’s ever got to a stage where it’s been too affecting of the players. I think it’s been positive all the way through. We believe in that environment anyway, the culture we set here. “Of course, winning enhances that, and it just reminds the players of what they’re about. We made a fantastic habit of winning a lot last year – the challenge changed, quite simply. “I felt wins would come regardless of all the outside media angles, and they have come, but I also suggested that one doesn’t cure everything and two doesn’t – you need more. So we’re still thirsty and hungry to get more.” Aston Villa are the opponents at Turf Moor on Saturday as Burnley look to make it three wins in a row. Paul Lambert’s side are only two points above the Clarets and have failed to win any of their last eight games, although they did claim a creditable draw against high-flying Southampton on Monday. Victory could see Burnley climb out of the bottom three, but Dyche maintains that is not extra motivation, saying: “The perfect incentive is just game by game to win. “There can never be any better incentive than winning. All the rest of it takes care of itself. We’ve won two back to back, which is excellent for all concerned. Sean Dyche insists winning games will not change Burnley’s approach to the Barclays Premier League. “We’ve got two home games coming up, which we’re looking forward to. We can only take one at a time and we’ll be ready for the Villa game. That is something that we do simplify. “It was only a couple of games ago that one (reporter) said, ‘Will you ever win a game?’ The point is you’ve got to win the next one or the next one. The one-game mentality of last season has never been more relevant because this league is very unforgiving. “The freedom we do have is that the expectation on us is so low – outside of our own expectation. That changes the outlook from other teams – there’s a massive expectation on them to win. “Virtually every other team in the division – their fans, their manager, their players – will be thinking, ‘We have to beat Burnley’.” Burnley and Villa are the lowest goalscorers in the Premier League, having managed just 14 between them in 24 games. Villa have only scored twice in their winless run but Burnley have begun to find the net more frequently, with Danny Ings scoring three times in the last four games. The visitors will again be without Christian Benteke, who serves the final game of a three-match ban, while they also have injury problems in defence. There was another blow for manager Lambert on Friday, meanwhile, when assistant Roy Keane resigned to concentrate on his role with the Republic of Ireland. “There’s a big expectation on a club like that,” Dyche said. “There are some realities for them as well. They’re missing a couple of players that have become really big players for them, particularly Benteke and (Fabian) Delph. “It’s a young side maturing. Make no mistake – I think they’re a good side. I was down there on Monday and they’re giving everything. “Probably like ourselves at times, they’re trying to find that extra bit of quality and moment of clarity to score a goal and win a game. They’ve experienced it enough over the last couple of seasons to be able to do that.” Dyche welcomes back midfielder Scott Arfield to the squad after he missed the Stoke game with a knock but defender Michael Duff (calf) is a doubt. Paul Lambert has defended his decision to send striker Darren Bent out on loan despite Aston Villa’s toothless attack leaving them as the Barclays Premier League’s lowest scorers. Villa have scored just six goals all season, with forwards Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andi Weimann sharing three apiece. However, Lambert this week packed Bent off to Sky Bet Championship outfit Brighton despite fans clamouring for the proven goalscorer to be given a chance. The Villa boss has always refused to criticise Bent ever since the former Tottenham man fell out of favour during the 2012-13 season, but insists he has his reasons for overlooking the 30-year-old. Asked if Bent’s career as a top-flight forward is over, the Scot said: “No, listen, I don’t know. “Darren wanted to go out on loan about a month ago but with Christian Benteke being suspended we had to keep him here. “It gets Darren’s career going again and that’s why I loaned him to Fulham last year, to try to get him going. But Darren wanted to go himself as well. “Christian is coming back after Saturday and I think Gabby Agbonlahor and Andi Weimann will find their feet again in terms of goalscoring. “Charles N’Zogbia is playing pretty decently and Joe Cole is nearly fully fit. So there are certainly goals within the team, we just need to find the solutions to win games.” Lambert admits Bent’s style of forward play simply does not fit into his own ethos. He said: “I play a certain type of football and in a certain way and Gabby has been playing well up there himself, Andi can do it as well, Christian is coming back so there are three guys there that are in front of him. “There’s young Callum Robinson who’s come back after doing really well at Preston so I’ve made the decision for that to happen. “We just play a different way. Darren came to me a month ago saying he wanted the chance to play more games (and go on loan), which I agreed to do.” Benteke sits out Saturday’s trip to Brighton in the final match of his three-game ban for violent conduct against Tottenham. Press Associationlast_img read more

Van Gaal warns of tough test

first_imgManchester United boss Louis van Gaal has stressed the importance of maintaining momentum but is taking nothing for granted against Stoke. The result ensured they maintained fourth place in the table and Van Gaal now wants to make sure they kick on. The 63-year-old said: “Winning, for a top club like Manchester United, is the most important thing in a week, or in a day. “Especially when we are in fourth position in the league table you have to win, otherwise others shall overcome you. “Of course I had hoped that we would win on Saturday but we have to win also against Stoke City. “But in the Premier League nothing is easy. When you see Liverpool struggling against Stoke City – (scoring in the) 85th minute – that shows. You see Arsenal struggling against West Bromwich Albion – they could also have lost. “Every game is difficult. That is why the Premier League is exciting, because you never know. There is an atmosphere in the stadiums (that is) fantastic and the fans are always supporting their club, until the end. That is fantastic. That is why I want to work in the Premier League, because of that, the atmosphere.” United will be without forward Angel di Maria after the Argentinian pulled up with a hamstring injury early in the clash against Hull. The club are still to learn the full extent of that problem but captain Wayne Rooney is expected to be fit after banging his knee on an advertising hoarding late in the game. United are seeking a fourth successive Barclays Premier League win as they host the Potters on Tuesday night. United have been inconsistent since Van Gaal took charge in the summer but the Dutchman reflected on their most satisfactory performance to date after Saturday’s one-sided 3-0 win over Hull. Striker Radamel Falcao might also be pushing for a start after coming off the bench to play the latter stages on Saturday following his recovery from a calf injury. Van Gaal said: “He was not fit to play 90 minutes, but for 20 minutes okay. I can use him because now he has trained for a full week with the first team. He needs match rhythm.” Stoke manager Mark Hughes believes the club can cope with the injuries that are beginning to pile up. Midfielders Steve Sidwell and Glenn Whelan are the latest to join the casualty list that also includes Victor Moses (thigh), Robert Huth (calf), Peter Odemwingie (knee) and Dionatan Teixeira (broken foot). Influential centre-back Huth, who has not played a league game for a year after suffering setbacks while recovering from a long-term knee injury, is at least closing in on a comeback. The virus that swept through the training ground last week also appears to have been cleared, with Phil Bardsley back in the squad for Tuesday’s clash at Manchester United after missing Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Liverpool because of the bug. It was at Anfield, though, where Sidwell and Whelan suffered their injuries, with the latter out for up to six weeks with a grade two tear of a medial knee ligament, whilst replacement Whelan picked up a calf muscle problem and is out of the trip to Old Trafford, and almost certainly Saturday’s visit of Arsenal. Hughes said: “Steve has had a scan and it’s slightly better news because we thought he would be out for six to eight weeks. “But it’s not as severe a tear and he is now likely to be out for four to six weeks. “It’s a blow to us with the amount of games we have coming up, but at least we’re encouraged by the better news. “Glenn, meanwhile, has been checked over and it’s not a pull, which is also good news, but he’s not available for tomorrow. “These injuries of late have coincided with the illness that broke out last week, which we could have done without. “We cleared people out of the training ground which enabled us to keep it away from the majority of the senior squad. “A few went down with it, but if we hadn’t have done what we did then we might have been more greatly affected than we were in the end. “Hopefully now we’re over this one. “As for the injuries, you can’t really avoid them because they’re occurring in matches and they’re difficult to legislate for, even though you try to do everything correctly. “There’s not a great deal we can do about it. It’s just a phase we are going through and we’re trying to make the best of it.” After back-to-back defeats, Hughes could not have asked for a more difficult task with which to resurrect his side’s fortunes than going up against his old club who have won their last three matches. “We’ve had the two losses, but in terms of performances I’ve been pleased enough,” said Hughes. “They seem to have run into a little bit of form unfortunately from our point of view. “If we’d faced them earlier then maybe it would have been easier, but they’ve had three wins on the trot and they seem to be getting to grips with what the manager wants and how he wants them to play. “We’ll have to play very well, we have to accept that. “But in terms of confidence going into a game at Old Trafford we’re not affected because we’ve proven this year we can give a good account of ourselves no matter who we play.” Press Associationlast_img read more

Monk purrs over Swansea display

first_img Monk’s men dominated throughout but had to rely on goals from Ki Sung-yueng and Wayne Routledge in the final 12 minutes to finally break Rangers’ spirited resistance. “The message at half-time was to keep on moving the ball quickly and keep our attacking play as sharp as possible,” Monk said. “I’m very proud of the way we’re working and what we’re trying to achieve. “We’ve put in hours of hard work – tactically, mentally and physically – and we feel we’re in a good moment. “We thrive on it and we’re on our biggest points tally we’ve had since we’ve been in Premier League and we’ll try to push on for the rest of the season.” Rangers’ defeat leaves them in the bottom three and still without an away point since their promotion. But manager Harry Redknapp feels that life on the road has not been helped by the tough sequence of fixtures they’ve had in the first half of the season. “We’ve had hard games,” said Redknapp. “We caught Newcastle on the back of a five-match winning run then we went to Chelsea, Man United and Tottenham earlier in the season when they looked like they were going to be flying. They have not been easy games. “Look at the table and the teams that have come up – it’s a big step up.” Redknapp praised Green’s form and said the 34-year-old had responded to the challenge of Alex McCarthy, who joined Rangers from Reading in August. “Rob Green was in great form. Alex has come in and pushed Rob’s game onto another level, he’s been fantastic for us,” said Redknapp. “If they score early then you are in for a very long night, but the longer the game goes on at 0-0 then the fans get edgy. ” At 0-0 you are bang in the game and when you get to 12 minutes to go then you are close. “We’ve been like that in the last couple of away games at Newcastle and Chelsea and we just couldn’t quite hang on there.” Press Association “I felt if we created chances the way we did in the first half then hopefully we would take one or two and secure the game. “We were able to do that and deserved at least the two goals and the clean sheet. “People talk about our big wins against Man United and Arsenal, but I look at the details and that was the most complete performance I’ve seen from us this season. “For 90 minutes we controlled the whole game – our tempo and passing, our attacking play and defending.” Rob Green was in outstanding form for Rangers with several excellent stops but the former England goalkeeper was finally beaten by South Korean midfielder Ki’s first goal at the Liberty Stadium and Routledge added another against his former club four minutes later to secure Swansea’s victory. “I’d mentioned to Ki it was about time he scored a goal so it was funny that he scored,” Monk said. “It was a great finish and it shows everyone is contributing in the team. “They were two fantastic finishes, it’s what we’ve been working on and it’s important as a team to have threats from everywhere. Swansea manager Garry Monk hailed his side’s “most complete performance of the season” as they moved into the top six of the Barclays Premier League with a 2-0 home victory over QPR.last_img read more

Lambert turns down Villa move

first_img The Reds brought in Lambert, who travelled to the World Cup with England last year, for £4million from Southampton as they reshaped their squad following the sale of talisman Luis Suarez. He scored 14 times for Saints last season but has failed to replicate that form for Liverpool, scoring just three times this term, including one against Villa last month. His situation had led to speculation he could move in the winter transfer window and that was fuelled further by the successful return to action of Daniel Sturridge at the weekend after five months out. Manager Brendan Rodgers had indicated that he wanted the player to stay but the club do not appear to have stood in his way following Villa’s enquiry. The player’s decision to reject the move suggests that Lambert intends to remain and fight for a place along with the likes of Mario Balotelli and Fabio Borini. Villa’s interest in Lambert is understandable given their poor form in front of goal in the Barclays Premier League. Paul Lambert’s side have scored just 11 goals in 23 games. Villa, who are looking for a new forward to bolster their underperforming front line, are believed to have offered £5million for the England international. Lambert, 32, has struggled to make an impact since joining his boyhood club last summer but does not appear prepared to give up his Anfield career for Villa Park. Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert has turned down a move to Aston Villa, Press Association Sport understands.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Ulster seal top-four spot

first_img Press Association But play was called back by referee Lacey and Kearney was sin-binned giving Pienaar a 63rd-minute penalty which he duly slotted to stretch the lead to 16-10. Three minutes later the South African nailed a monster effort from just inside Leinster’s half and the home side now had a considerable comfort blanket. It already looked too late for Leinster and their humiliation was completed with eight minutes remaining when a huge Ulster power play off a scrum on Leinster’s line ultimately saw Gilroy dance through for his 11th PRO12 try of the campaign. Pienaar converted to make it 26-10 and the game ended with 14-man Ulster – replacement prop Andy Warwick had been binned – defending their line as if their lives depended on it. Ulster led 13-10 at half-time and put the pressure on in the second period to take it beyond the visitors, who had no reply in the latter 40 minutes. Leinster, though, made the best possible start by taking play deep into Ulster territory and coming away with an early penalty strike from Gopperth. And after six minutes, things got even better for the visitors as they sought to rescue their already brittle-looking play-off hopes, when Te’o smashed through some weak first-up tackling to score. Gopperth added the extras and Leinster were 10-0 to the good and looking comfortable. Ulster needed to respond and after Pienaar’s opening long-range penalty fell short, they got over the line with Henderson storming over. Pienaar converted his 12th-minute effort and then added a penalty shortly afterwards to tie the scores. There then followed a moment of controversy after Henderson was tip-tackled by Sean O’Brien with referee John Lacey and the TMO opting for a yellow card for the Ireland flanker instead of the red one the home crowed were baying for. Ulster, though, failed to score during O’Brien’s absence – Pienaar was wide with a long-range penalty – but did manage to finish the half by dominating territory and they got their just reward when Pienaar kicked a 37th-minute three-pointer to give the home side the lead for the first time. As the tension rose in a scrappy second half, Paddy Jackson’s chip saw Gilroy gather and touch down but, courtesy of the TMO, it looked clear that Rob Kearney’s hit had forced the winger into touch. Ulster then got a lucky break with Louis Ludik somehow scything through. Tommy Bowe got on the end of Ludik’s pass and was held up short which saw Pienaar then cross-kick for Gilroy who was again put into touch. Tries in each half from man of the match Iain Henderson and the PRO12’s leading try scorer Craig Gilroy helped secure the result – which took Ulster top of the table overnight – which all but ends Leinster’s hopes of making the top four. Four penalties from Ruan Pienaar, who also converted both tries, also contributed to the result while Leinster – who were undoubtedly weary five days on from their Champions Cup exit – scored a try from Ben Te’o along with a conversion and penalty from Jimmy Gopperth. Leaders Ulster ensured their place in the Guinness PRO12 top four with a rare but highly-prized 26-10 victory over Leinster at a damp Kingspan Stadium which keeps the home side on target for a home semi-final. last_img read more

Poch happy with fighting spirit

first_imgMauricio Pochettino was pleased to see Nabil Bentaleb and Federico Fazio arguing on the field as that is the fighting spirit the Tottenham head coach wants to instil. Pochettino was, rather surprisingly, particularly happy with the on-field altercation between Bentaleb and Fazio, which needed Jan Vertonghen to act as peacemaker after Steven Davis was all too easily allowed to get away a shot. “I need to fight with my team-mate if something wrong happens,” the former Argentina defender said. “But after it happens, in the changing room have a big hug and stop because after it has finished. “This is good because you show that you care about your team-mates. You want to win, you want to fight and this is very important and I am happy with that. “Sometimes in my career I did that, yes, but it is important to stop now. “I was always happy when my team-mate shouted at me or pushed me, but in football this type of action happens. “But always we have to be clever and say now stop because inside is one thing, but outside we need to create the good atmosphere.” It is fair to say the atmosphere at St Mary’s was not particularly welcoming for Pochettino as he returned for the first time since departing last summer. The Argentinian insists he has no hard feelings towards Saints fans and was keen to focus on the backing from those who travelled from north London. “I was focused on the game and today I felt the support from Tottenham supporters,” Pochettino said. “They were brilliant and I am happy for that. That’s why after the game I went to say thank you. “Today I hear for the first time and that means a lot for me. “I appreciate it so much, the support. I am very happy for that because we are starting in our relationship from the beginning and that was very good to hear from them. “It is very good because you can feel the warmth and the people start to appreciate you and that is very important. I’m a very emotional person and it was very important.” A bond certainly appears to be building between Tottenham’s staff and supporters as the season comes to a close. Spurs fans can take a lot of encouragement from Pochettino’s maiden campaign, with steady improvements, some big wins and a trip to Wembley a decent start to life at the White Hart Lane helm. “Always when you arrive in a new club you try to settle your ideas, bring your players and try to improve the squad and try to reach the objective for the club,” he said. “We are in a very good way but we need to work very hard. Maybe we don’t have holidays.” On Saturday afternoon the former Argentina international frustrated the fans that used to adore him as Spurs twice came from behind at Southampton. Erik Lamela and then Nacer Chadli cancelled out Graziano Pelle’s goals to secure a 2-2 draw from a match in which the north Londoners’ spirit was more impressive than their performance. Press Associationlast_img read more

Dummett determined to avoid drop

first_img Press Association “But I think this is probably going to be the biggest one because of the position the club is in, especially on the last day of the season to keep the club in the Premier League.” Six years ago, the then 17-year-old academy player could only watch on television as Newcastle slipped out of the Premier League after a final-day 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa, with even club talisman Alan Shearer in the role of temporary manager unable to halt a fatal slide. Those memories remain painfully fresh for Dummett, and he has no intention of reliving them this weekend. He said: “I remember watching it at home on TV, I remember the cameras on Steven Taylor – I think he was crying – and there was one an Alan Shearer and Iain Dowie, the assistant manager at the time, and you could see how gutted some of the players were on that pitch. “Especially Steven, he would know exactly how it felt being a Newcastle fan. I’m exactly the same being a Newcastle fan, so I’m desperate for that not to happen again. “I was absolutely gutted. It was six years ago, so it’s hard to remember exactly what it was like, but I know I was gutted watching and I would hope that would never happen ever again for this club. “I know now we are in a massive fight to make that not happen this weekend, and we need to get a positive result.” The Magpies head into the weekend two points better off than 18th-placed Hull and have to match whatever the Tigers do against Manchester United to stay up because of their inferior goal difference. The 23-year-old Geordie remembers only too well the day the Magpies were relegated back in 2009, and is desperate not to go through that pain once again with only victory over West Ham at St James’ Park on Sunday certain to assure the club of their continued presence in the top flight. Dummett told nufcTV: “I have played in some big games before – when I was on loan in Scotland, a cup final, also probably one of the biggest ones was when I came on to make my debut against Manchester City in the Premier League. center_img Paul Dummett is preparing for the biggest game of his career to date as Newcastle attempt to drag themselves out of relegation trouble on the final day of the Barclays Premier League season. last_img read more

McIlroy accepts fine run is over

first_img McIlroy was seeking his third win in four weeks, having followed his victory in the WGC-Cadillac Match Play with a third consecutive top-10 finish in the Players Championship and a seven-shot triumph at Quail Hollow on Sunday. However, the world number one slumped to a second round of 78 in the European Tour’s flagship event to finish five over par, 15 shots behind halfway leader Francesco Molinari. The 26-year-old admitted his patience was wearing thin after throwing a club in frustration during an opening 71, a situation which never looked likely to improve on Friday. Bogeys on the third and sixth were followed by a birdie on the eighth, before the wheels truly came off on the back nine with a bogey on the 10th and a double-bogey on the next, where a wild hook off the tee resulted in an unplayable lie and another hook into the crowd with his second attempt. Further dropped shots on the 13th and 16th were followed by a birdie on the 17th, but a three-putt bogey on the last summed up McIlroy’s day and the only good news was a welcome weekend off before his duties as tournament host in next week’s Irish Open. ” I’m not going to read too much into it,” McIlroy said after his worst score since also shooting 78 in the second round of the Scottish Open last July, which was one of a string of bad Friday performances ended in style during the following week’s Open Championship. “It was inevitable at some point that the run was going to come to a bit of an end. I’m sort of back to my usual at Wentworth. It wasn’t great before I won last year and it hasn’t been great after. “Any time you’re defending a title you want to come back and give it a valiant effort. This week wasn’t really that. “I’m not angry. A little disappointed I’m not going to be here for the weekend, but if there was any weekend to miss, coming off the back of three good weeks in the States…. I’m probably in need of a little bit of a rest. “If anything good comes out of this, it’s just that I get a couple of days over the weekend to refresh mentally.” Defending champion Rory McIlroy crashed out of the BMW PGA Championship on Friday, reverting to his “usual” performance at Wentworth by missing the cut for the third time in four years. Press Association McIlroy’s early departure was not the only bad news for tournament organisers and incoming European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, who visited Wentworth on Friday as he prepares to succeed George O’Grady in July. Two-time winner Luke Donald carded a second successive 70 to finish four under par, but suggested that the greens needed replacing for the second time in six years. “I guess the only way to fix them is to redo them again,” said Donald. “I f there’s one tournament you should expect them to be perfect, it’s this one. “It’s not a question we haven’t talked about over the years. It has happened a few times. “When they redid the greens (in 2009) and I look at the success I had (finishing second in 2010 and winning in 2011 and 2012), I would certainly be a proponent of doing them again.” Former US Open champion Justin Rose agreed after a 72 left him one under, adding: “I just watched myself on TV knocking in a four-footer on 18 and it looked easy, but that was different from the running commentary in my head. ” They are bouncy and then it becomes a mental thing, you don’t quite trust your reads. “It’s disappointing in the sense that the whole reason we changed this course was that if a player has a six-foot putt to win and hits a good putt, it should go in. “We are back in the situation where that six-footer might not be true come Sunday afternoon.” Molinari, who has recorded three straight top-10 finishes at Wentworth and was joint second in the Spanish Open on Sunday, added a 69 to his opening 65 to finish 10 under par, one shot ahead of Korea’s An Byeong-hun, who completed a flawless 64 shortly before 8pm. ”Obviously I’m delighted to have gone a little bit further under par and just need to keep doing the same,” said Molinari, who recovered from two bogeys in his first three holes. “I know how hard I’ve been working the last few months, so it’s nice to see that it’s paying off on the course.” Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee were two off the lead on eight under, with Spanish Open winner James Morrison another shot back. last_img read more