Dzeko wary of Irish challenge

Edin Dzeko says the Republic of Ireland have the quality to hurt Bosnia-Herzegovina in their Euro 2016 playoff despite missing some key players.

Martin O'Neill has lost skipper John O'Shea and Jonathan Walters to suspension while Shay Given and Shane Long, the match winner against Germany last month, are out of Friday's first leg with injury.

Dzeko, on loan at Roma from Manchester City this season, say he expects a huge challenge from the Irish and rates Bosnia's chances of progress at 50-50.

"Maybe some of their most important players are not playing in the first game, so it's a big problem for them, but they have other good players who can jump in, so I don't think it's a big advantage for us," Dzeko said.

"They have some important players, some experienced players, who can bring something different to the team – like they did against Germany, because it's not easy doing it against them. If you win, you must be a good team."

Long scored a second half winner in Dublin last month as Ireland claimed the scalp of the world champions to edge out Scotland in the race for third place in Group D.

Bosnia, who are 11/10 to win the first leg in Zenica, must be wary of an Irish side well drilled in the Premier League, warns Dzeko.

"I know almost all the Irish players – they all play in England in the best league in the world and they are there because they have their individual qualities, they are good players.

"Even if some of them are missing, they are a good team which will definitely never give up, I know that," he added.

Dzeko has scored 44 goals in 77 appearances for his country, including seven in seven games during qualifying, and is 4/1 to score first against Ireland on Friday.

Republic of Ireland are 11/10 to qualify for Euro 2016 by defeating Bosnia in their two-legged playoff.

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De Gea ‘very happy’ at Old Trafford

David de Gea says he has no regrets over the collapse of his summer move to Real Madrid and that he is now 'very happy' working under Louis van Gaal.

The Spanish stopper has paid tribute to van Gaal for the manner in which his situation was handled after the move to Madrid had fallen through.

De Gea says the United boss reassured him about his position at the club immediately and told him to focus solely on playing games, ensuring that he felt signing a contract extension was the right move for him.

"From the first I day I came back, after all that happened, he [Van Gaal] gave me a lot of confidence, told me I would play, to relax and keep doing what I had done before," de Gea told ESPN.

According to de Gea, the Old Trafford boss is approachable and they enjoy a solid relationship.

"In the end it is hard to be friends with any coach – you have a lot of respect for him, but it is difficult to be their friend. But he is a good person," de Gea said.

"You can talk with him about anything you want, and face to face he is sincere. We have a normal relationship between a coach and player. We both want what is best for the club."

De Gea is on international duty with Spain ahead of Friday's friendly with England in Alicante, a game the hosts are 4/5 to win.

The 25-year-old said it felt right to sign a new deal at Old Trafford, despite the fact he could have walked away for free next summer.

"I felt in that moment that to extend my contract was the best thing to do. I'm really happy now, at one of the biggest clubs in the world, where I feel loved by the fans.

"Nobody let me down or disappointed me – these are things that happen. You must look forward, and I am very happy now," he added.

Manchester United are 5000/1 to win the Premier League this season while van Gaal's team are 10000/1 to lift the Champions League trophy.

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Ancelotti: Chelsea lack motivation

Former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti says the Blues appear to be lacking motivation this season under Jose Mourinho.

The Italian insists however that he expects Mourinho to remain in charge at Stamford Bridge – despite admitting he would be open to a return to west London.

Ancelotti led Chelsea to a Premier League and FA Cup double during his first season in charge in 2009/10, but was sacked just a year later by owner Roman Abramovich after failing to build on that success.

Having left Real Madrid at the end of last season, the experienced coach is viewing the current Chelsea melee from the outside.

He says the club are right to stand by their manager.

"I would have no problem with Chelsea," he told the Daily Mail.

"But Jose won't be sacked. They already choose to keep him, and I think they made a good choice."

Ancelotti says that it is difficult to explain why things have gone so wrong for a squad that won the Premier League so authoritatively last season.

"Sometimes you can't explain why things happen… what is going wrong. It is a mystery. How did we lose (with AC Milan) in Istanbul when we were three goals up against Liverpool at half-time?"

Chelsea are now 1000/1 to finish in the top four of the Premier League this season while the defence of their title is already in tatters with Mourinho's men 5000/1 to win the league.

Ancelotti feels that Chelsea do not seem as motivated as they were last season. While the manager must play his part, the Italian contends that motivation ultimately lies with the individual.

"I look from a distance at Chelsea and I think they won the title easily last year and I don't think they are so motivated this year.

"It's true that the manager has to be able to motivate players, but the manager cannot motivate a player if the player is not self-motivated. It's impossible," he added.

Chelsea are 2/5 to win their next match at home to Norwich on 21st November.

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Keane ready for Bosnia call

Robbie Keane says he is ready and willing to answer the call if Martin O'Neill selects him for the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2016 play-off first leg against Bosnia on Friday night.

Ireland's record goalscorer has been restricted to a place on the bench in recent times, but with Shane Long injured and Jon Walters suspended, Keane's chances of featuring in Zenica have improved.

The LA Galaxy forward says he has no need to tell his manager what he can bring to the party.

Asked if he needed to remind O'Neill of his potency, the 35-year-old said with a smile: "I don't think I need to do that. I think 67 goals probably says that a little bit."

Ipswich forward Daryl Murphy staked his claim for a place in the starting team with a hat-trick for the Tractor Boys last weekend against Rotherham and Keane says he is happy to answer the call from O'Neill either as a starter or from the subs bench against Bosnia.

"Listen, if I'm called upon anywhere, you want to play. Of course every player wants to play. I haven't played for this long at a high level to be happy not to play," said Keane.

"But the manager has to make a decision that's right for the team. The team is more important than any individual and if I play or am called upon, I'll be more than ready."

Keane is 9/4 to score for the Republic of Ireland in the first leg against Bosnia.

He insists he has not given any thought to his international future should Ireland fail to qualify past Bosnia in Dublin on Monday night.

"I honestly haven't even thought about it. It's the last thing I want to think about right now. Ask me on Tuesday and I'll have a clearer picture for you. But there's no way I am thinking about it now," he added.

The Republic of Ireland are 11/10 to qualify for Euro 2016, while Bosnia are 11/10 to win the first leg clash.

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Frustrated Welbeck on the comeback

Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck is looking forward to returning to training, as he continues his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

The 24-year-old England international has been out of action since late April and is still some way away from a return to action for the Gunners, a situation which he admits he finds frustrating.

The former Manchester United frontman told his current club's official website: "It's slow and steady, but it's coming along.

"It's difficult to see the lads when you're still in the gym, doing double days, but once I get back out on the pitch and start running I will be much happier.

"It's a difficult period for me, but I'm looking forward to coming back strong. I want to get back out on the pitch, keep on improving, keep training and keep fit – that's the main thing.

"I'm trying to build muscle and it's hard, but it's something that I've grasped with two hands and I'm really looking forward to my return."

Welbeck netted eight goals in his first season with Arsenal, while he was also in fine form for England before his injury setback.

He had scored six goals in Euro 2016 qualifying before being condemned to the sidelines, helping the Three Lions on their way to a perfect ten wins out of ten in Group E.

Meanwhile, following the international break, the Gunners are back in Premier League action on Saturday 21st November when they head to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion.

Arsenal can be backed at 11/20 to take all three points in the Black Country, with the draw 10/3, while the Gunners are available at 5000/1 to win the Premier League title this season.

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Powell given nod to replace McGlinchey

Former Sydney FC striker Blake Powell is the man given the job of filling the large shoes of Michael McGlinchey in Wellington's clash with Adelaide United.

McGlinchey is on international duty with New Zealand, providing a selection and tactics challenge for coach Ernie Merrick ahead of Friday's home meeting with the bottom side.

The All Whites star has been one of the outstanding performers so far, scoring twice in the opening five games.

Merrick has said Powell will come into the side for McGlinchey, though he's not revealing exactly how his midfield and attack will line up against the Reds.

Powell has been given a second A-League chance by the Phoenix, having spent last year with part-timers APIA Leichhardt after being released by Sydney FC at the end of the 2014-15 campaign.

The Phoenix are without five players in total due to the All Whites game in Oman, and skipper Andrew Durante concedes the absence of McGlinchey in particular is a significant issue.

Wellington are 1212/1 to win the Grand Final.

"Mikey's a big loss – obviously he's a quality player, but we've got players that can fill his position," said Durante.

"Roly Bonevacia's playing really well as that second No.10-type player, and we've got the players up front to be dangerous as well, so it's not too much of a shake-up for us."

Roy Krishna, who has also scored twice this season, isn't expected to play a full 90 minutes against United as he only returned on Wednesday after playing and scoring for Fiji in their 2-1 defeat to Vanuatu.

Merrick said: "We'll have an attacking team, an attacking mindset; a lot of teams now are going at flanks, so we'll cope with that. It'll be a real challenge against Adelaide – they play open football."

The Phoenix are 6/4 to beat Adelaide, who are 17/10 with the draw 5/2.

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Glory still hungry for success

Perth coach Kenny Lowe

Missing out on silverware last week is another motivating factor for Perth Glory midfielder Diogo Ferreira ahead of his return to former club Brisbane Roar.

Perth suffered a 2-0 defeat in the FFA Cup final to Melbourne Victory, which has only intensified the 26-year-old's desire for success.

Kenny Lowe's side have been close to achieving honours in the past 12 months but ultimately missed out.

They've lost in both FFA Cup finals – last year to Adelaide United – and after leading the A-League for much of last season were banned from the Finals Series for off-field reasons.

Ferreira was part of the Brisbane Roar team that won the A-League premiership and championship in 2013-14, and now wants to help the Glory – who are 20/1 to win the Grand Final – reward their fans with silverware.

He feels he can make a significant contribution this season, as he is over the injury problems that dogged him last term.

The former Olyroo is currently filling the defensive midfield role in the absence of Hungary international Gyorgy Sandor, who has an ankle injury.

"We've had a bad run of injuries at the moment but that's when the squad has to step up and seize the moment," said Ferreira ahead of Sunday's clash.

"It's a long season and we are aiming to make the finals so I'll be doing my best to earn my spot.

"I've been part of a winning culture at Brisbane and it's what I think I like to bring to the table," he added. "The success we had there is what drives me.

"I was really disappointed that we didn't get to feel that on Saturday night with the FFA Cup but I know I will be putting in my all at the Glory this year to get the success we deserve."

Perth are 4/1 to beat the Roar, who are 4/6 with the draw 14/5.

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Reds confdent ahead of Wellington trip

Hard work is the key to Adelaide United kick-starting their season, says Spanish midfielder Isaias.

The Reds are the only team in the A-League without a win after five rounds, putting pressure on new coach Guillermo Amor to start producing results soon.

Defeat away to Wellington Phoenix on Friday could leave United eight points off the Finals Series places.

It's the worst start to a season since Isaias arrived at Coopers Stadium in 2013 and he admits the results have tested the squad's self-belief.

They travel to Westpac Stadium on the back of three consecutive defeats during which they have conceded 10 goals, last weekend's 4-2 home defeat to Melbourne City being particularly painful.

Adelaide are 8/11 to win the Grand Final.

"We know that our start is not good enough, but we also know that we have a good squad and we can turn this situation around; we have confidence in ourselves," said Isaias.

"Guillermo has told us that we have to keep working and have to keep our trust in our game style and our team. This is very important and if we keep working hard the results will come."

The Phoenix are the only team to have beaten second-placed Brisbane Roar so far this term, doing so in Wellington in round 3.

Since then, though, they've been living with the fear that they might lose their A-League licence at the end of the season after Football Federation Australia criticised their off-field performance.

Isaias said: "Wellington is a difficult place to go and the Phoenix are a very strong team, especially at home, but we're coming up against them in a good moment."

United are 17/10 to beat Wellington, who are 6/4 with the draw 5/2.

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Ribery unsure over return date

Injury-hit Bayern Munich forward Franck Ribery is making progress in his recovery, but remains unsure when he will return to action.

The 32-year-old France international has been sidelined since March by a serious ankle problem and while Ribery is happy that he is moving closer to a return to the pitch, he is far from certain about when he will feature again for Bayern.

He told Kicker magazine: "It's been the most difficult time of my career. It's tough when you don't know when and how things are going to move on.

"I'm feeling good. I do still feel my ankle a little, but when I am warm I don't feel anything anymore.

"My body's first got to get used to the exertions. Since I was wearing a plaster cast, I lost a lot of muscle and it was a long break.

"You've got to take things slowly. It would be nice to be back (in full training) in two or three weeks, to get that feeling of being part of a group back and have fun – I've missed all that."

Ribery joined Bayern in the summer of 2007 from Marseille and has since helped the German giants to five Bundesliga titles and four successes in the DFB-Pokal, as well as Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup glory in 2013.

Bayern are currently five points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table and are set to face Darmstadt in the third round of the DFB-Pokal, having defeated holders Wolfsburg 3-1 in round two.

Die Roten can be backed at 1/1000 to retain their Bundesliga crown and are 2/5 to lift the DFB-Pokal, while they are available at 1212/1 to win the Champions League.

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Sterling urges England to impress

Raheem Sterling says upcoming high-profile friendlies are crucial for England to show that they can be contenders at Euro 2016.

Sterling and co. head to Alicante for a Friday night showdown with reigning European champions Spain, before heading home to Wembley to face tournament hosts France on Tuesday.

And the Manchester City forward is well aware that these are the types of games in which the Three Lions need to back up the form they showed in winning all ten of the Euro 2016 qualifiers.

He told reporters: "We know that it was a good run in qualifying and we were unbeaten, but were this is the real challenge.

"We are going to be playing some of Europe's best teams and this is where we get to see where we are in terms of the tournament in the summer."

England, who won 1-0 at Wembley when they last met Spain in November 2011, can be backed at 4/1 to triumph in the Estadio Jose Rico Perez on Friday and are 11/1 to win 1-0 again, while Spain are available at 4/5 to secure a victory.

Meanwhile, Sterling's international colleague, Phil Jones, took almost the same line as the man who plays his club football on the other side of Manchester.

He added: "We are under no illusions that we have to be at our best to beat the teams that will be put in front of us in the Euros.

"But these are good tests for us against Spain and France in the next week or so and we will see where we are after that."

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