Didier Deschamps hints Olivier Giroud may need move away from Chelsea to boost France career

Press Association Sport 10:12 15/10/2019
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France coach Didier Deschamps praised Olivier Giroud for delivering under pressure but admits a lack of game time with Chelsea is damaging his international chances.

The 33-year-old came off the bench in France’s Euro 2000 qualifier against Turkey on Monday night and scored within four minutes. It was his third goal in four matches for France, but his header was cancelled out late on by Kaan Ayhan in a 1-1 draw.

Giroud had scored an important winner against Iceland on Friday but Deschamps did not feel he could manage two starts in four days, having managed just 187 minutes for his club this season.

“You know, Olivier suffers his situation. Before January, nothing will move,” Deschamps told a press conference.

“After, it will be up to him to see. I hope he will have more playing time.

“But we cannot take away his goals, his good performances. He scores, he makes others play well. He knows he is under pressure, but he always responds.”

France laboured at home to Turkey, who remain Group H leaders ahead of their opponents on 19 points because of a superior head-to-head record after a 2-0 win in Konya in June.

They had 23 shots but only nine were on target, producing only one goal.

“We did everything we needed to win that game,” Deschamps said. “We had the chances, they didn’t, but it is what it is.

“It’s a good point. We’ll have to finish the job in November,

“We are the two best teams in the group. Qualifiers are always complicated, it’s a long road.

“We should have been more efficient. They defended a lot and they deserve to be where they are.”

France face Moldova next month while Turkey host third-placed Iceland.

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Scott McTominay thinks Scotland's recent defeats have been a wake-up call

Press Association Sport 09:21 13/10/2019
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Scott McTominay spoke of the positive effect a wake-up call can have on Scotland as they look to bounce back from four straight European Championship qualifying defeats.

The Manchester United midfielder missed Thursday’s 4-0 loss in Russia through suspension but is back in contention to face Group I’s basement club San Marino on Sunday.

With three group games still to come before Scotland switch their focus to the Nations League play-offs in March – which provide a route to Euro 2020 – Steve Clarke’s side have plenty to play for despite being unable to finish in the top two.

McTominay thinks the recent run of defeats, which came in the double-headers against Belgium and Russia, have been a wake-up call that Scotland could benefit from.

Speaking at a pre-match press conference, he said: “Obviously in football you have good and you have bad moments as well.

“Football is not always sunshine and rainbows, you have to stick in through the bad moments and obviously keep pushing as a team.

“We know what we have to improve on, we’ve had numerous conversations about it as a group and obviously with the staff as well. And it’s up to us now.

“I feel like we’ve got everything in front of us that we need to achieve and sometimes you can have a wake-up call, which can be the best thing for you.

“In football a wake-up call can be huge for the whole squad and everybody looking forward to the games.”

McTominay stressed the importance of treating San Marino with respect in order to avoid an upset against the team who sit bottom of the FIFA world rankings and are currently on a 34-match losing streak.

He added: “Every football match you want to win, first and foremost. Whether that’s San Marino or whether that’s Belgium or Russia or Kazakhstan, it makes no difference to us.

“Every game of football we want to go and do our best and give a good account of yourself as well.

“You have to treat every team with respect because if you don’t you can be shocked because that’s football and anything can happen.

“Obviously we’re working now – today and the couple of days before – to put things right. We’ve got to get back to that positive stage where we’re looking forward to the games coming up in March as well.”

Steve Clarke’s current squad contains a host of players, like McTominay, who ply their trades at the highest level in England and Scotland.

And the 22-year-old believes it is key that they replicate their club form for the national team.

He added: “You’ve got different players who are playing in the Premier League, the Championship, the Scottish Championship and the Scottish Premiership and it’s important for us to bring our club form into the national team as well.

“And that’s one thing that the manager has asked, it’s important that you have to bring your own stamp on the game as well.”

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Georginio Wijnaldum braced for Northern Ireland return as Ronald Koeman slams opponents

Press Association Sport 09:15 13/10/2019
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Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum will be braced for a tough night when the Netherlands visit Windsor Park next month after Northern Ireland threatened to pull off a shock win in Rotterdam on Thursday.

Josh Magennis headed Michael O’Neill’s side in front in the 75th minute before Memphis Depay levelled five minutes later, and the Dutch needed stoppage time to secure a 3-1 win though Luuk De Jong and Depay again.

The two sides meet again next month in Belfast, with Northern Ireland needing victory to keep their slim chances of automatic qualification for Euro 2020 alive.

“It’s not a given,” Wijnaldum said. “We know it is going to be a difficult night and even more so now we have played them here.”

After being polite about Northern Ireland’s tactics in his post-match press conference, Dutch coach Ronald Koeman saved some more scathing remarks for Dutch television.

He told NOS: “It is outrageous, the football they play, but it is allowed and they get the most out of their qualities. I respect that, but it is terrible to watch.”

However, it nearly worked and Wijnaldum knows Holland will need to have better answers next month.

“It was uncomfortable but it’s because they made it difficult for us with the style they were playing,” he said.

“They were really direct, playing the long ball and winning the second ball.

“They dropped real deep and tried to make it almost impossible for us to play the football we like to play. And they did it really well.”

Victory for Northern Ireland next month would see O’Neill’s men head to Frankfurt for their final qualifier against Germany still in with a chance.

Though the play-offs look like a better bet now, Leicester defender Jonny Evans said Thursday’s performance gives them belief.

“It shows we can compete with these teams and we can be proud of certain aspects of our game,” Evans said.

“The manager always looks at things to improve after the game but the most important thing is that we have come a long way tactically.

“The manager always has us well organised and disciplined. It was a different type of game we had to play and I thought we carried out that plan very well.”

Before those final two qualifiers comes Monday’s friendly against the Czech Republic in Prague.

O’Neill will make several changes, with Michael McGovern expected to start in goal.

The Norwich keeper came into the international window having recently made his Premier League debut at the age of 35, something he called a “special achievement”.

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