20 Sep

Sherwood not taking Toffees lightly

first_img Other results have left Villa just two points above the relegation zone with four games left. “I could have hand-picked at least five other teams who I would like to come here rather than Everton,” Sherwood said. “They are the form team in the league. They played very well (against Manchester United), they broke very well and they can cause a lot of teams problems. They’ve got some exceptional players. “The mindset is that we’re disappointed on the back of a defeat. When you lose you just want to put it to the back of your mind as soon as you can. “You can’t, though, at this stage of the season because you have to wait another week before you put it away. “We went there and had them on the back foot for 85 minutes. If we continue with that level of performance I’m confident we will be OK.” Alan Hutton is back in training following an ankle injury and will be assessed ahead of the Toffees’ visit while Philippe Senderos could feature after a thigh problem, but Nathan Baker and Ciaran Clark (both knee) are out. Goalkeeper Shay Given is pushing to start after Brad Guzan’s error gifted Sergio Aguero Manchester City’s opener last week and Sherwood admitted he has a decision to make. Boss Tim Sherwood admits he is wary of in-form Everton but insisted Aston Villa are ready to forget their Manchester City frustration. He said: “It was an obviously an error from Brad and he recognises that. There were other errors made on the field. When you’re a goalkeeper, you’re in the firing line. “I’ve always got decisions to make about the goalkeepers. I’ve said that about all the players. There’s a lot of players competing for places. Everyone has got a right and an opportunity to start.” Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor is not ready to return to action. The forward has been out with a hamstring injury which also forced him to miss both the FA Cup semi-final win over Liverpool and last weekend’s narrow loss to Manchester City but has yet to return to training. Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar will miss the trip as he sits out a third successive match because of a muscle injury. Utility player Bryan Ovideo’s season is over after he broke a metatarsal in training, joining midfielder Darron Gibson on the sidelines with a similar problem. Defender Tony Hibbert is the other long-term absentee. Everton head to Aston Villa on Saturday as the Premier League’s form team after five wins and a draw. Last season they took 21 points from the final 10 matches and the fact they are replicating those results is a positive for boss Roberto Martinez. “It is about being consistent with your work on a daily basis,” he said. “If you look at the players there is a really good balance of being fresh and physically strong enough. “I think to be able to finish the season strongly is vital as the final 30 points is when you are fighting for what you want to achieve in the league. “It is very pleasing because it is a real test of the staff at the club and the professionalism of our players and that is pleasing.” Not so long ago Everton were threatened with being dragged into a relegation battle but those fears were banished pretty quickly and Swansea, in eighth six points ahead, are now in their sights. “It is an important moment of our season. Tenth is a spot that six games ago it looked unthinkable,” said the Toffees boss. “At the moment we are not looking at positions in the table, we are just trying to make sure we carry on with the run.” The Toffees have won five of their last six Barclays Premier League games, drawing the other, ahead of their Villa Park clash on Saturday. They comfortably beat Manchester United 3-0 last week while Villa slipped to a battling 3-2 defeat at the Etihad. Press Associationlast_img read more

11 Jan

Shorted out: Lakers don’t have enough, lose to Suns

first_imgPHOENIX – The last time they walked onto the court at USAirways Center, the Lakers were handed a 31-point loss in Game 7 of their 2006 first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns, bringing an unceremonious end to a feel-good season. That also might have been the last time the Lakers were close to whole, before the sprained ankles and sprained knees, the separated shoulders and torn labrums made a medical dictionary a must-have for this season. Maybe that was why the Lakers felt as if they exceeded expectations in Sunday’s 99-94 loss to the Suns. With the cloud of Lamar Odom’s potential season-ending injury hanging over them, the Lakers nevertheless pushed Phoenix to the final horn. “A lot of people watching the game, considering all the guys that we have out, probably expected us to get blown out,” Kobe Bryant said. “But I believe that we can win these games. We have a lot of guys out but we’re still going to be competitive and we’re going to be all right.” Lakers coach Phil Jackson watched as Parker, who slipped into a black hole in the playoffs against the Suns, picked up three fouls in the first half and responded with a less-than- aggressive performance at both ends of the floor in the second half. Parker gave up easy layups to Steve Nash, who converted 7 of 10 shots and scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half. Parker also passed on a 3-pointer at the start of the fourth quarter, resulting in a 24-second violation for the Lakers. So Jackson decided to make a change with 5:40 left after Nash staked the Suns to a 10-point lead, their largest of the game. He sent Shammond Williams for Parker during a timeout, a decision with which Parker voiced his disagreement. “He wanted to play,” Jackson said. “I had to take him out because I didn’t think he was aggressive enough.” Jackson said he was looking to see what “punch” Williams could bring and said he sensed Parker growing “despondent” with every Nash layup. The coach went on to describe Parker’s fourth-quarter play as being almost “flaccid.” After he was removed, Parker planted himself at the end of the bench and didn’t join the huddle during timeouts. Jackson said he talked with Parker, who finished with three points on 1-of-5 shooting, after the game. Williams, though, drained a 3-pointer with 3:19 remaining after Bryant drove and found him open. That made it 92-88, but the Lakers couldn’t get closer than three points; Williams and Bryant each missed free throws in the last 1:37. The Lakers were left to lament Cook’s missed 3-pointer with 1:04 to play, a shot that could have made it a one-point game. Cook made 4 of 6 3-pointers after Jackson joked before the game about not knowing whom to start in place of Odom. “I’m just trying to fill in and help the team when I can,” Cook said. “Phil’s going to use me how he’s going to use me. I trust in him to use me the way he wants to use me. Right now, we just need to be together as a team and fight for the rest of this road trip.” Odom, meanwhile, will visit shoulder specialist Lewis Yocum today and faces the possibility of season-ending surgery. If that is the case, the Lakers’ hopes of making something out of this season would be greatly diminished. “Really, it’s at best I would say anywhere from two to threeweeks before we’ll even know,” Jackson said of Odom’s fate. “Unless (Yocum) says, `Hey, an operation’s important. Let’s get it done.’ That, I doubt.” The Lakers will play the Suns twice more in the regular season and succeeded in holding the NBA’s highest scoring team to less than 100 points. It was an accomplishment for the Lakers after giving up 116points in Friday’s loss to Sacramento. “I don’t think we played particularly well,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. “It seemed like a lack of a little juice. The Lakers do a good job of imposing their style and rhythm … and it is easy to fall into that instead of figuring it out and amping it up.” With Phoenix scoring 28points or fewer in every quarter, Bryant added, “I think we can be proud of the way that we played, especially defensively, considering the way that we’ve been playing.” [email protected] (818) 713-3610160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Now all the Lakers can do is hope for the best, as Odom (torn labrum) and Luke Walton (sprained ankle) both see specialists today in Los Angeles. Walton could return on this four-game trip; Odom is waiting to learn if and when he will need surgery. “We just have to unite and just play well together,” Bryant said. “That’s the key. Hopefully, we’ll get Luke back and that’ll help out a lot because of his triangle recognition … and just continue to plug away.” In the first glimpse of life without Odom, Bryant finished with 31 points but was hounded into 11-of-28 shooting. He played nearly 45 minutes, including the entire second half, and also led the Lakers with six assists. Brian Cook started in place of Odom and made 8 of 15 shots, totaling 22 points and a career-best 14 rebounds. Yet the game was not without incident for the Lakers, as Smush Parker had an outburst on the bench in the fourth quarter. last_img