Romelu Lukaku ready to be Jose Mourinho's 'sergeant' as Manchester United host Liverpool

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Romelu Lukaku is ready to continue as Jose Mourinho‘s “sergeant on the pitch” as Manchester United prepare to do battle with rivals Liverpool.

The eyes of the footballing world will be on Old Trafford on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp‘s swashbuckling third-place side head to their second-place rivals.

Much has been spoken about Liverpool’s potent attack in the build-up, but United boast threats of their own and a front man coming into form as the season reaches a conclusion.

Lukaku took his tally for the season to 23 in Monday’s remarkable 3-2 comeback win at Crystal Palace, but believes he offers far more than goals to Mourinho and the team.

“It’s been really good,” the Belgium striker told Sky Sports when asked about linking up again with his former Chelsea boss in the summer. “But I think he knows that I have like a soldier mentality.

“I think the work rate that I am delivering to the team is a lot.

“I think the manager in his mind thinks that I’m like his sergeant on the pitch – and that’s strange for a striker because normally it’s normally always the midfielders.

“But he knows he can come to me whenever and he knows that I will always put the team first ahead of myself.
“And that’s something that I told him. I said, ‘for me, the team is the most important thing’.

“My desire to win is bigger than ever now since I came to this club, because I always wanted to win, I always wanted to chase trophies.

“I always put that in front of my personal objectives and he knows that, and I think that’s the reason why I’m playing all the time.”

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Swansea coach Carlos Carvalhal hopes Renato Sanches can help in survival battle

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Carlos Carvalhal expects Renato Sanches to rejoin Swansea‘s Premier League survival battle this month after returning to his native Portugal to recover from injury.

Sanches has not featured for Swansea since damaging a hamstring in an FA Cup fourth-round tie against Notts County on January 27.

The on-loan Bayern Munich midfielder lasted only 32 minutes at Meadow Lane after suffering a similar injury in the previous round at Wolves three weeks earlier.

“I believe Renato will be available to start training and be ready this month,” Carvalhal said ahead of Saturday’s league trip to Huddersfield.

“He has missed a lot of weeks to be in a normal physical condition.

“It will take a bit of time for him to try and help the team but I believe he will be ready to be involved in the 18.”

Sanches has spent part of his rehabilitation in Portugal after the 20-year-old requested to return home.

Carlos Carvalhal 1

Carvalhal said Swansea agreed to that request because the club felt the warmer weather would speed up Sanches’ recovery time.

“He did one part of the regeneration here and one part of the recovery he requested to go to Portugal because of the weather,” Carvalhal said.

“The weather can help a lot with this muscular problem, it is more difficult to recover in the cold.

“We decided that part of the recovery he could go there because it is a standard thing.

“We agreed that he can be near the family in different weather to try and be 100 per cent quicker.

“But he will be here now to do the final part of the recovery.”

Swansea climbed five places to 13th after beating West Ham 4-1 last weekend – their biggest win of the season – and move above Huddersfield on goal difference.

That represented another significant step for a team who were bottom of the table and five points adrift of safety when Carvalhal took over at the end of December.

“When I arrived people said that to stay in the Premier League – like I expect – will be some kind of miracle,” Carvalhal said.

“But this is not something that is divine, it is part of this world and about hard work.

“We are fighting and we have used a lot of water to put things in a good way.

“But it is like a forest where the fire can start again if you do not check for it.”

Swansea expect veteran midfielder Leon Britton, who returned as a substitute against West Ham after a four-month absence, to shrug off a twinge in his back and take his place in the squad.

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Man City target Riyad Mahrez refuses to rule out summer transfer

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Riyad Mahrez has refused to rule out a move away from Leicester in the summer but insists he is happy for now at the King Power Stadium.

The 27-year-old did not train for 10 days and missed two matches after his proposed transfer to Premier League leaders Manchester City collapsed in January.

Asked about what would happen when the transfer window opened again in the summer, Mahrez declined to commit his future to the Foxes.

He said in an interview with Sky Sports News: “I don’t want to want to talk about this, because first it will bring more rumours and more talk, and second we are very far away from this transfer window. My mind, focus is on Leicester, that’s all I’m focused on.

“In football players come, players leave. I’m not saying I’m going to leave, I’m going to go. Everything is very good. We will see in the summer if something comes, but at the moment I’m a Leicester City player and I’m good here.”

Mahrez insisted he faced no hostility from his team-mates following his failed move to City and is now firmly back in the Leicester fold.

And the Algeria international says the saga has not caused any tension within the club, even if he declined to confirm he would not seek another move in the summer.

Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City arrives at the stadium

He added: “I was away from here because I needed some time to think. We’ve moved on now. Everyone to be honest has been very good and it’s the past now.

“It was difficult but I spoke with the players, I spoke with the manager, I spoke with everyone. Everyone was OK, was good. Now it’s the past, it’s behind me.”

Mahrez added: “Manchester City is a good move for everyone, but it’s the past. I really don’t want to talk about this, because it’s behind me. If we start talking about this it’s like coming back to this transfer window and now I’m looking forward and trying to give my best for the team and that’s the most important.”

Asked if he had any regrets about how he handled the situation, he said: “You always have regrets, but at the time I thought it was the best thing to do. I have always been in contact with the club. The club handled it very well.

“I’ve been with these team-mates for four years now. They know me very well. We had some discussions and we moved on.”

Mahrez also brushed off the hoax retirement announcement posted on his Facebook page this week.

Mahrez said: “I wasn’t bothered. It won’t affect me, so I don’t know why they try to do that. I think everyone knew it had been hacked.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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