Pitch to Post: What's going on with Donny van de Beek at Manchester United?

Having not started a Premier League game for the club, just what is going on for midfielder Donny van de Beek at Manchester United?

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The £39m signing from Ajax has found playing time hard to come by this season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, playing just 59 minutes in the Premier League, with United themselves struggling domestically.

Sky Sports’ Gary Neville questioned the use Van de Beek in commentary following the 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday, saying: “He doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans in every game. It’s a bit of a mystery.”

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But in this week’s Pitch to Post Review podcast, Jasper Taylor is joined by Dharmesh Sheth and Gerard Brand to discuss the Netherlands international’s role, why he may be a victim of circumstance, and we also ask is playing two defensive midfielders really the ‘Manchester United way?’


A victim of circumstance?

Could Van de Beek’s omission be more about saving a desperate situation, than the 23-year-old’s quality? Dharmesh Sheth thinks so…

“I don’t know whether it is reluctance from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, I just think Van de Beek has become a victim of circumstance this season,” Sheth told the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Review podcast. “Solskjaer was asked the question after the game, and he promised he would get games because of the packed schedule, but I think he will have to be patient.

Donny van de Beek minutes this season

“I think people hoped Manchester United would pick up where they left off last season; they had a fantastic run of form when football resumed, with Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba playing together, and all was well at Old Trafford.

“I just think that 6-1 defeat to Tottenham, coupled with the defeat to Crystal Palace on the opening day, and the performance against Brighton, has changed things for United.

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“Many thought that when Van de Beek came in, it was going to be two players from Bruno, Pogba and Van de Beek in that position. Now, because of these results, you would think Solskjaer has decided to give the defence more protection by picking Scott McTominay and Fred, and as a result, instead of it being two players from Bruno, Pogba and Van de Beek, it’s now one. That place, given current form and profile, is always going to be filled by Bruno Fernandes.

“That is why Van de Beek has found limited opportunities, even more so now, because of the deployment of the two holding midfielders. United fans would love to see Donny van de Beek given an extended run in the team, but some I have spoken to have just been puzzled by the actual transfer itself, with United appearing to strengthen a position in which they already seemed strong.

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“It’s difficult to argue against what Solskjaer has done since the 6-1 defeat by Tottenham, however. They won late at Newcastle, beat PSG, and kept that much-needed clean sheet at home to Chelsea.

“You wonder how now Van de Beek gets his chance, unless there’s an injury. I’m sure Van de Beek did not foresee coming into United into this situation, but I genuinely think it’s because of circumstance – the United results and the need for change – that he has found opportunities hard to come by, rather than his ability.

“I think pre-Bruno they were playing those holding midfielders, and since Bruno came in they have tried to accommodate him and Pogba, which did work when football resumed initially.

“To me, a defence is only as good as the protection the defence is given. It’s not always down to the ability of the defence, but what is in front in midfield, the ability to protect them, and that’s what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is thinking right now.”

Defensive football… surely not the ‘United way’?

So, United are seemingly trying to protect their defence, but is playing two defensive midfielders really the ‘Manchester United way?’ And does that even exist any more?

“I’m going to go back to Fergie – people like to remember that time as United playing free-flowing, attacking football,” said Gerard Brand on the Pitch to Post Review podcast. “It wasn’t that a lot of the time. One thing Fergie used to do, particularly away at sides not even in the top six, or even at home to a top-six team, is set up and make it a stinker in games he knew would be difficult.

“He had the authority and presence to convince his players that would get them results, convince them that although they have a better 11 than their opponents on paper, if they set up this way they have a better chance of winning this game.

“It’s very romantic to say: ‘Go at them and beat them with your quality, go toe-to-toe’ but that doesn’t always work. I know we want entertaining football but I think this approach is necessary at the moment for United.”

But has the varied style of managers since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure made it difficult to form an identity at Old Trafford?

“Many clubs knew what Manchester United were about under Fergie,” Sheth added. “I just think since he left, and David Gill left, they employed four managers who share very different philosophies. They all picked players who fit the manager’s identity, not the identity of the squad.

“So what Solskjaer has is players from Fergie’s era, Moyes’ era, Van Gaal’s era, Mourinho’s era, and his own players. It can’t be easy to try and get a squad and philosophy going when you have so many players left from different eras, to try and then really focus on what this United way is.”

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Ben Stokes back to his best with big-hitting IPL century

Ben Stokes returns to his best with an unbeaten hundred to keep Rajasthan Royals’ Indian Premier League hopes alive with victory over Mumbai Indians

  • Ben Stokes finished with a total of 107 not out on Sunday from 60 balls 
  • It comes after showing only glimmers of his ability in his first five matches
  • His Rajasthan Royals’ side stunned Mumbai Indians with a win by eight wickets 

England’s Ben Stokes roared back to form in the Indian Premier League with a stunning unbeaten century for Rajasthan Royals.

Stokes was a late arrival at the tournament, having taken an extended period of time to be with his seriously ill father Ged in New Zealand, and showed only glimmers of his match-winning ability with the bat in his first five matches.

That all ended in emphatic fashion at Sharjah on Sunday, where he smashed 107 not out in just 60 balls against Mumbai Indians, batting through the innings to chase down 195.

Ben Stokes (pictured here in 2019) hit a 107 not out in Rahasthan Royal’s IPL victory

The knock, which included 14 fours and his first three sixes at this year’s competition, was just his second T20 century and his highest ever score in the format.

But with the Royals needing help from elsewhere to reach the latter stages of the IPL, the England all-rounder told Sky Sports: ‘It was bittersweet to be honest.

‘I’m a bit taken aback at taking this long to into the tournament for the team. I would have preferred to do this two or three games ago when we weren’t relying on other results to get us through.

‘It was nice to spend some time in the middle and finish the game off.’

The brilliant innings will also raise a much-needed smile in Christchurch, where Ged is battling brain cancer alongside his family.

‘Obviously things are a bit difficult at the moment but I take a bit of solace that back home, where things are a bit rough, hopefully that gives him a bit of happiness,’ said Stokes.

It was a fine return to form for Stokes after struggling during his first five matches

Speaking later to the Royals media team, Stokes declared himself content to have proved his credentials as an opening batsman. 

The decision to promote him ahead of England team-mate Jos Buttler has divided opinion, but he has not allowed that to worry him.

‘When things don’t go well people are going to say you shouldn’t be there. I try not to listen to that outside noise,’ he said.

He arrived late to the tournament after spending time with his ill father in New Zealand

‘The rest of the players backed me to do the role that we spoke about and I’m happy to repay the faith they put in me.’

There was also a word for Jofra Archer, who pulled off a sensational one-handed catch on the boundary that called to mind the one Stokes took against South Africa in the first match of the 2019 World Cup.

‘I just laughed in the ground where he dropped an absolute goober off me so for him to pull that off was great. It’s one of the great catches at the IPL.’

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Ian Wright sends message to Mikel Arteta over Houssem Aouar transfer

Arsenal legend Ian Wright is hopeful that the club will revive a move for Lyon playmaker Housse Aouar following the signing of Thomas Partey.

The Ghanian completed a £45million move to the Emirates on deadline day, bringing to an end one of the longest running sagas of the summer transfer window.

The Gunners were working with tight financial constraints in the window but that didn’t stop Arteta targeting Aouar, who was valued at £50m by Lyon.

Unfortunately for Arteta, Arsenal were unable to raise enough money through player sales in order to fund a move for the France international.

Aouar decided to stay for Lyon for a further season but the competition for the 22-year-old’s signature is expected to be even greater in the future with the likes of Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain interested.

Wright backed Arsenal’s decision to prioritise Partey but the former Gunners striker admits he would like to see Aouar arrive to add more creativity to the side’s midfield.

Asked about Partey’s arrival, Wright told Premier League Productions: ‘I’m very happy. The way he played in midweek against Rapid Vienna, okay they’re not the greatest opposition but he was magnificent.

‘He’s exactly what Arsenal are looking for. He can bring the ball forward and he can set moves going. I think we’ll see Xhaka dropping in and Ceballos further forward because at the end of the day that’s where Arsenal still need to create in that last third of the pitch.

‘I don’t mind that [Partey’s disciplinary record] because he’s somebody that does intercept. Already from his first game he’s got more interceptions individually than the rest of Arsenal’s midfield. He’s somebody that can win the ball but he can progress the ball. They still need more, he’s not the main one and that’s why Arsenal went for Houssem Aouar as well. I’m hoping they can still get him at some stage but Partey is a massive improvement on what Arsenal have got.’

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Ravens to host fans for Week 8 game vs. Steelers 

Fans will return to M&T Bank Stadium when the Baltimore Ravens get back from their bye week.

The team announced Friday that it received approval from the Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor to host fans for the Nov. 1 game against division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

Approximately 6,600 fans dispersed across the stadium will be allowed to attend. The matchup between the bitter AFC North rivals is slated to kick off Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in Week 8.

As with all clubs allowing fans, face coverings are mandatory, as is social distancing.

“We are excited to welcome fans back to M&T Bank Stadium,” Raven president Dick Cass said in a statement.

Statement from the Ravens on hosting fans at M&T Bank Stadium.

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Cats will need to prise flag from Richmond’s grip: Selwood

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Geelong will need to execute their plan to perfection to prise the 2020 premiership cup from Richmond's iron grip as they head into the decider at the Gabba on Saturday night as slight underdogs against a Tigers team that has won two of the past three flags.

The Cats' champion skipper Joel Selwood – who played in three flags with Geelong before becoming captain in 2012 – said their challenge was clear as they knew Richmond would not just hand over the title.

Richmond captain Trent Cotchin (left) and Geelong counterpart Joel Selwood with the premiership cup.Credit:Getty Images

Both coaches said they would take unchanged teams into the grand final with Scott set to join Hardwick as a two-time premiership coach if the Cats prevail at the Gabba.

Scott said although the Cats were confident that their plan could beat the Tigers, its execution under pressure remained Geelong's big challenge. He said Richmond deserved to be slight favourites.

"I'd said over and over again they have clearly been the best team of the last three or four years, there is no doubting that," Scott said.

"They have been the benchmark and they should – and I am sure they do – have real confidence in their system."

Selwood will lead the team into a grand final for the first time after playing in three premierships before he turned 24 and will played alongside Gary Ablett for the final time in their fourth grand final as teammates.

Selwood said the desire to send Ablett off in style would provide "very little" extra motivation, however he hoped they would be able to celebrate together at the end of the match.

Cotchin will become the first Richmond player to be a three-time premiership captain if the Tigers win and the eighth person in the game's history to be captain in three flags.

The Tigers are looking to win back-to-back flags for the first time since 1973-74 with Cotchin defending their culture despite a number of off-field incidents throughout 2020.

"We are really proud of what we have created and continue to create," Cotchin said.

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Eddie Hearn hoping to bring fans back to boxing in the coming weeks

Eddie Hearn hoping to bring fans back to boxing in the coming weeks after announcing Wembley’s SSE Arena will stage upcoming fights of Dereck Chisora, Katie Taylor and Dillian Whyte

  • Eddie Hearn hasn’t dismissed ideas of fans attending sports events in near future
  • Wembley’s SSE Arena will host three highly-anticipated fights in next few weeks
  • Hearn accepts likelihood that next shows will unfold without any fans present

Eddie Hearn has not dismissed the thought of fans attending live sporting events in the next few weeks after announcing Wembley’s SSE Arena will stage the upcoming fights of Dereck Chisora, Katie Taylor and Dillian Whyte.

With coronavirus cases on the rise and increasing restrictions being introduced in many regions of the UK, Hearn accepts the likelihood that his next four shows will unfold without any supporters present.

But the Matchroom promoter said: ‘Whilst we have made the decision to proceed with these huge nights without a crowd, we are working hard with The SSE Arena, Wembley and the authorities to try and bring fans back safely during this period.’

Eddie Hearn has not dismissed thought of fans attending live sporting events in near future

Hearn announced Wembley’s SSE Arena will stage the upcoming fights of Dereck Chisora, Katie Taylor and Dillian Whyte (above)

The eagerly-anticipated heavyweight showdown between Chisora and former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk on October 31 marks the start of Matchroom’s residency at Wembley, with the all-British clash for the vacant WBO middleweight title between Savannah Marshall and Hannah Rankin also on the card.

Taylor puts her WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO lightweight titles on the line against mandatory challenger Miriam Gutierrez on November 14, when Terri Harper defends her WBC super-featherweight crown against Katharina Thanderz.

The following week Whyte will look to avenge his shock heavyweight defeat by Alexander Povetkin earlier this year, while it is understood a show headlined by WBO super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders will go ahead on either November 28 or December 5.

Hearn added: ‘I’m delighted to have The SSE Arena, Wembley as our new home for the next six weeks, we’ve got a remarkable schedule especially considering the current environment.

‘It’s so important to be as creative as you can with behind closed doors events and here we have a huge space that we can create a high end viewing experience for the fans at home.’

The heavyweight showdown between Chisora (L) and Oleksandr Usyk on October 31 marks the start of Matchroom’s residency at Wembley 

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Hakim Ziyech sends message to Donny van de Beek ahead of Man Utd vs Chelsea

Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech has urged Donny van de Beek to ‘stay calm’ following his slow start at Manchester United.

Both players left Ajax at the end of last season, with Ziyech joining Chelsea for £36 million, while Van de Beek made the move to United in a £35m deal.

Ziyech’s start at Stamford Bridge has been disrupted after he suffered a knee injury during a pre-season friendly against Brighton but the midfielder finally made his debut in Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with Southampton last Saturday.

Van de Beek, meanwhile, is yet to start a Premier League game this season and played just two minutes in United’s victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League this week.

But Ziyech has told his former Ajax teammate to be patient and is confident the 23-year-old will ‘bring quality’ to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

‘We spoke in the beginning when he moved to Manchester,’ said Ziyech.

‘And last week we didn’t speak a lot, we didn’t speak about his situation.

‘I think he will need time as well.

‘He comes from a different country, a different style of play.

‘I know for sure it will take some time for him as well to get used to everything and then I know for sure he will bring quality to the squad over there.

‘For him the most important thing right now is to stay calm.’

Ziyech also stressed the importance of finding his own rhythm at Chelsea following his delayed start to the campaign.

‘If you think realistically, I’ve been out for a while. The season stopped last year for me a bit early, I didn’t play for a while,’ said the midfielder.

‘Like I said before, the injury came at an unlucky time.

‘For me it’s now just important to get the rhythm back and build up everything again.

‘I know it will take some time but for me it could be as soon as possible.

‘But it is what it is right now and for me it’s now most important to build again to come in with 100 per cent fitness and that’s what we’re working on right now.’

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Willis is key to Wasps bid for glory in the Premiership final

Wasps flanker Jack Willis is king of the breakdown and key to their bid for glory in the Premiership final against Exeter… and it’s thanks to ballet and plumbing!

  • Willis has dominated at the breakdown in the Premiership this season
  • Flanker has taken a staggering 44 turnovers, 25 more than anyone else
  • Saturday’s Premiership final has been pitched as Exeter Chiefs versus Willis

They might as well re-name him Jackal Willis now. Such is the Wasps flanker’s dominance at the breakdown this season —where he has taken a staggering 44 turnovers, 25 more than anyone else — Jack does not quite seem enough.

‘He’s like playing a computer game on cheat mode,’ said his head coach Lee Blackett, when summing up Willis’s work.

‘Hands-down he’s one of the best in the competition,’ added England and Wasps back-rower Brad Shields.

Jack Willis (right) has dominated at the breakdown in the Premiership this season

So good is he that Saturday’s Premiership final has been pitched as Exeter Chiefs versus Jack Willis.

Despite rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the 2018 Premiership semi-final — which saw him miss a first England tour — he has come back better and more flexible than ever. How does he do it?

‘It’s his agility in his groin area,’ explained Wayne Courtnage, Willis’s club coach at Reading Abbey RFC until Under 16 level.

‘He’s almost double-jointed up there! He splits so far and then hinges from it. He seems to have such a low centre of gravity and has quite long arms, which helps.’

Saturday’s Premiership final at Twickenham has been pitched as Exeter Chiefs versus Willis

Danny Batty, Henley College’s rugby master when Willis was there, added: ‘Jack is 6ft 3in but has that wide base to get himself over the ball.

‘His strength is phenomenal. There will be plenty of guys with a better vertical jump, or leg press, but he applies his strength so well. So once he’s over the ball, he’s pretty much unmoveable.

‘I’ve worked with better athletes but he reads the game so well. Apart from having a good rugby brain he is just so determined.’

The 23-year-old is committed to whatever he turns his hand to — he once joined his girlfriend for ballet lessons to improve his balance. He even donned a leotard, according to Courtnage. Days after that ACL injury he turned up to Wasps’ Mad Monday social in a wheelchair, keen to stay involved. While out injured, he qualified as a plumber with his younger brother.

‘That was a good distraction away from rugby,’ said Tom, 21, who also plays in Wasps’ back row. ‘We had Monday evening theory and Tuesday practicals, which was either putting together a radiator or a sink.

The Wasps flanker has taken a staggering 44 turnovers, 25 more than anyone else this season

‘They graded you on whether it was up to scratch. Jack is better for having some experience in the real world. I’ll give him that.’

Jack’s eagerness to achieve is a long-term trait. Born to Joanne and Steve — an Abbey player himself into his 40s who also played a handful of times for London Irish — Jack is the eldest of three children from Emmer Green, a suburb of Reading. After Tom is 17-year-old Annabel.

The family have fostered more than 30 kids over the years. When Jack was not scrapping with his brother while watching his Dad play, he used to entertain them on the sidelines at football and rugby games.

‘Jack’s football skills weren’t the best, I can confess,’ said Courtnage. ‘He had a best friend called Lewis Hayden who was on Southampton’s books from a really early age.

‘We all thought Lewis would become a professional, but he was let go when he was 17. And Jack’s career took off.’

Willis made his Wasps debut at 19 and four years later he is the club’s dominant player

In his early teens, though, Willis’s Abbey side almost disbanded due to a lack of players.

‘I’ll move clubs or give up rugby,’ said Willis at the time — but enough were found to get a team out and by 15 he had represented Berkshire. Before a growth-spurt, London Irish rejected him at a trial.

‘It really knocked the wind out of his sails,’ said Courtnage. ‘It took him four months to get over. They must look at him now and think “We’ve missed something there”.’

Clearly the star of his club — and fiercely competitive — Willis once demanded that a game continued to its conclusion when his coaches tried to stop it early because Abbey were being thrashed. He was hardly fazed by adversity.

‘In one game we played Luton and this guy bit Jack’s ear off, almost,’ recalled Courtnage. ‘Jack had ripped the ball off this guy and he decided to bite Jack’s ear lobe.

Jack Willis (centre) with Reading Abbey U14s during a club tour to Pembrokeshire

‘It was hanging off! Jack’s dad Steve came running on and was quite upset, as you’d expect. Jack just went off to have it stitched. The next week he came back and refereed a game. The guy got banned for a year.’

So keen was Willis to further his career that he wrote to Henley College, asking for Batty to watch him play.

Henley developed players for Wasps and Willis wanted in. At an Under 16s match at Maidenhead, Batty found a new star. ‘He was chipping and chasing, tapping and going and wanted to be on the ball the whole time,’ said Batty. ‘We invited him for a trial in February half term and he got about eight turnovers. His breakdown work was incredible. I had to look back at each clip to see how the hell he was jackalling all those balls.’

Whether it is working on his property and finance company — RockCap, set up with former team-mate Alex Lundberg — or dedicating himself to his rugby career, Willis is zoned in.

Jack Willis (back row, middle) played for Reading Abbey before attending Henley College

On his teenage birthdays and Christmas Eve, he refused to drink but would pull up a stool at the pub with his childhood sweetheart Megan, who he lives with now having met at 14.

The discipline paid off. At 19 he made his Wasps debut and four years later he is the club’s dominant player.

‘In terms of his rugby brain and leadership, he is like Lawrence Dallaglio,’ said Batty.

Courtnage spotted him running around Reading golf course during lockdown. ‘I was out walking the dog — he runs like a washing machine, does Jack, arms and legs everywhere,’ says his old coach.

Jack Willis pictured (sixth from the left, back row) in the Henley College team aged 16

‘He was out with his girlfriend’s dad, who’s in his 50s, hill sprinting!’

That desire makes his team-mates believe he is now ready to star for England, too.

‘I don’t doubt for a second that he has the ability to step up,’ said Shields. ‘His performances inspire us.’

If Willis keeps going like this, Saturday’s final will not be the last time Twickenham gets to enjoy a day of the jackal.

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Evans confirms he wants to stay at Leicester beyond end of season

Jonny Evans confirms he wants to stay at Leicester beyond the end of the season but defender claims no formal contract talks have been held despite having just eight months left on his current deal

  •  Jonny Evans has admitted he is open to penning fresh terms at Leicester
  • The 32-year-old’s deal at the King Power Stadium expires at the end of 2020/21 
  • He joined from West Brom for £3.5million after the Baggies’ relegation in 2018 
  • He is preparing for a Europa League campaign starting at home to Zorya Luhansk

Jonny Evans is keen to extend his Leicester stay with just eight months left on his contract.

The defender’s current deal expires at the end of the season.

Evans is preparing for Thursday’s Europa League opener with Zorya Luhansk and is open to penning fresh terms at the King Power Stadium.

Jonny Evans has confirmed he wants to extend his Leicester stay beyond the end of the season

Evans has just eight months left on his deal and is open to penning fresh terms with the club

He said: ‘There’s been nothing formal in terms of contract talks, possibly that’s something my agent and the club will do in the near future, but I have really enjoyed my time here, if that option becomes available I’m sure it’s one I would take.

‘If we can come to an agreement I’m sure it won’t be a problem and it will be sorted soon.’

The 32-year-old joined from West Brom for £3.5million after the Baggies’ relegation in 2018 and has made 77 appearances for the Foxes, scoring three goals.

He helped them to fifth in the Premier League last season and believes they need to embrace the Europa League, where they also face Braga and AEK Athens in Group G.

The 32-year-old joined from West Brom for £3.5million after the Baggies’ relegation in 2018

He said: ‘It’s very important (to start well), it’s a home game and we’re stepping into the unknown a little because they (Zorya) have played in the Europa League more and have a bit more experience.

‘We know it will be a tough group to get out of but we’re confident, especially if we get off to a good start.

‘Travelling around Europe with your team-mates and going to the different stadiums, you never get that back. They are great occasions, we have been looking forward to it and I’m sure we’ll relish it.’

He has since gone on to make 77 appearances for the Foxes, scoring three goals in that time

Jamie Vardy remains out with a calf issue, Wilfred Ndidi is sidelined with a hip injury, Caglar Soyuncu suffered a serious abductor injury on international duty with Turkey while Ricardo Pereira is a long-term absentee with an Achilles injury.

Islam Slimani is unavailable having been left out of the Foxes’ European squad.

Boss Brendan Rodgers said: ‘The squad had to be handed in much earlier than the Premier League squad and unfortunately, thinking maybe he (Slimani) wasn’t going to be here, that’s the reason why.

Meanwhile, Leicester will be without Jamie Vardy and Wilfried Ndidi against Zorya Luhansk

‘We just have to find ways to be more creative and more clinical. We have to work with the players we have, we go into each game with the confidence to create and score goals and it will be no different on Thursday.

‘The idea is to get out (of the group) and qualify. Then you look to progress from that. You don’t want to look too far ahead, it’s a great competition to be in and an experience for the players who haven’t sampled European football before.

‘It develops you as a player, tactically, physically and mentally.’

Caglar Soyuncu also suffered a serious abductor injury on international duty with Turkey

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'On my way to Cobham': Drogba jokes about return after Cech call-up

‘I’m already on my way to Cobham’: Retired Chelsea legend Didier Drogba jokes that he’s getting his boots back on to link up with Frank Lampard again after Petr Cech’s shock inclusion in Blues’ 25-man Premier League squad

  • Petr Cech was a surprise addition to Chelsea’s squad amid goalkeeping crisis 
  • The 38-year-old retired after a successful career following his spell at Arsenal 
  • Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joked that he would also be lacing up boots again 
  • Ivorian retired aged 40 after spells at Montreal Impact and Phoenix Rising  

Frank Lampard’s shock inclusion of Petr Cech in his Premier League squad has another retired Chelsea legend desperate to lace up the boots again…

Didier Drogba reacted to the news of his former team-mate, now performance advisor at Stamford Bridge, coming out of retirement as a back-up goalkeeping option should Lampard need it. 

The 42-year-old Ivorian hung up his boots two years ago but joked on Twitter than he was ‘already on his way to Cobham’, Chelsea’s training ground. 

Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joked he would be the next out of retirement for Frank Lampard

Former team-mate Petr Cech was included in Frank Lampard’s Premier League squad 

Drogba helped Chelsea to four Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a famous Champions League victory over Bayern Munich. 

No doubt his tongue in cheek post will have the Blues feeling nostalgic for their former target man, who struck fear into defences during that golden period. 

Drogba joined Chelsea in 2004 and left for Shanghai Shenhua in 2012 before moving to Galatasaray and then back to Stamford Bridge on a one-year deal. 

A couple of spells in the MLS followed with Montreal Impact and Phoenix Rising where he proved he was still a top goal scorer before finally calling it a day in 2018. 

Cech is 38 so by no means ancient in goalkeeping terms and Lampard insisted his inclusion in the squad made sense. 

The manager brought in Edouard Mendy as No 1 from Rennes in the transfer window with Kepa Arrizabalaga struggling hugely in goal. 

‘It’s definitely not for the romance,’ Lampard said of bringing Cech out of retirement. 

‘Pete’s been training with the keepers for a little while. He’s very fit and still relatively young. Pete finished playing when he could have probably carried on and taken on his role at Chelsea, which he does very well.

He reasoned: ‘We had a space in the squad and this year is like no other because of Covid and what it might do to selection and isolation. So it was an easy one. Pete will still do his day job but he’s there if we need him.

‘Whether we see him or not I’m not so sure. It depends how the season goes with Covid and isolations. I certainly felt it was a no brainer to have Pete in the squad for that reason and he can only help the goalkeepers we have. He’s one of the best in the world in the modern era.’

Frank Lampard insisted the decision to bring Cech back was not ‘for the romance’

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