Tag Archives: playmaker

David Beckham tempted to extend PSG stay

Beckham tempted to extend PSG stay as he prepares for glamour tie with Barcelona

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

19:50 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

19:53 GMT, 30 March 2013

David Beckham has admitted he is tempted to extend his stay with Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain into a second season.

The 37-year-old joined Carlo
Ancelotti's PSG on a five-month deal in January and his brief
contribution has helped the capital club book a Champions League
quarter-final with Barcelona while sustaining their domestic lead over
Lyon.

Scroll down to watch video highlights

Inspiration: David Beckham's (centre) cameo appearance was a key part of PSG extending their lead at the top of Ligue 1

Inspiration: David Beckham's (centre) cameo appearance was a key part of PSG extending their lead at the top of Ligue 1

While Beckham would not publicly commit his future to the Parc des Princes outfit, he revealed he is relishing the opportunity to face Barca in Paris on Tuesday night.

He told Le Parisien: 'We'll see. Who wouldn't want to stay at a place like this

'It's very special but I'm not getting any younger so we'll see how I feel at the end of the season. It's always nice to be wanted.'

Beckham was speaking after a 1-0 victory over reigning French champions Montpellier in which he played 18 minutes as a second-half substitute.

Celebrations: Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kevin Gameiro (background) celebrates his goal

Celebrations: Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kevin Gameiro (background) celebrates his goal

Winner: Beckham challenges Montpellier's John Utaka

Winner: Beckham challenges Montpellier's John Utaka

Sliding in: Beckham wins the ball from Bryan Dabo

Sliding in: Beckham wins the ball from Bryan Dabo

The playmaker could play a bigger
role against the Primera Division leaders given the inside knowledge he
gained from a four-season spell with Real Madrid.

'Now our focus will turn to Barcelona and I think everybody's excited about the game,' he added.

'Whenever I've come up against Barcelona you always get excited about coming up against the best players and teams.

'It's important that we concentrate on our own game and not worry about their game too much.'

VIDEO: David Beckham helps PSG to victory

Wales" Gareth Bale is back in the frame to play Croatia

Bale back in the frame for Wales clash with Croatia after coming on leaps and bounds

By
Thom Drake

PUBLISHED:

16:03 GMT, 25 March 2013

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UPDATED:

16:04 GMT, 25 March 2013

Wales winger Gareth Bale has been training as he recovers from both a stomach virus and the ankle injury which forced him off early against Scotland on Friday.

Bale was a doubt for Wales' World Cup qualifier with Croatia, but he seemed as athletic as ever bounding around the training session.

If Wales want to stand any chance of going to Rio they have to overcome a seven point gap between themselves and both Belgium and Croatia who lead the group on 13 points.

Flying high: Gareth Bale appears to be fit again by the look of this acrobatic celebration

Flying high: Gareth Bale appears to be fit again by the look of this acrobatic celebration

Smiling wide: Wales will be hoping Bale can get round the Croatian defence as easily as he did this marker

Smiling wide: Wales will be hoping Bale can get round the Croatian defence as easily as he did this marker

Aaron Ramsey is ruled out of the game through suspension because of his sending off against Scotland.

Wales came from behind to with two goals in two minutes. Grant Hanley had put Scotland ahead on the stroke of half-time, but when Robert Snodgrass fouled Chris Gunter, not only was he given a red card but Ramsey put away the penalty.

Only a minute later Wales scored the winner as Hal Robson-Kanu headed past Alan McGregor.

Man down: Ashley Williams keeps Bale in his sights as they train

Man down: Ashley Williams keeps Bale in his sights as they train

Cheeky: Wales lost the away fixture with Croatia 2-0

Cheeky: Wales lost the away fixture with Croatia 2-0

Bale's incredibly season has included 23 goals for club and country, and has taken his tally of international strikes up to 10 in 37 appearances.

He failed to get on the score-sheet against Scotland when he was hampered by injury, and will be chomping at the bit to continue his goalscoring run.

Croatia's biggest threat will come from former Tottenham and now Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric, Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic and Wolfsburg's Ivica Olic.

Gently jog: Bale and Craig Bellamy warm up before their session

Gently jog: Bale and Craig Bellamy warm up before their session

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale

Star man: Manager Chris Coleman will be delighted to have Bale back in his first 11

Star man: Manager Chris Coleman will be delighted to have Bale back in his first 11

Puffed out: Even Bale has to take a rest at some point

Puffed out: Even Bale has to take a rest at some point

Wayne Rooney remains an England enigma, 10 years after his spectacular start

Decade of hit and miss: Rooney remains an England enigma, 10 years after his spectacular start

but was his
first goal at a major international tournament for eight years.

Red mist: Rooney was sent off last time he played in Montenegro

Red mist: Rooney was sent off last time he played in Montenegro

Heads we win: Rooney returned to the team after suspension to score against Ukraine

Heads we win: Rooney returned to the team after suspension to score against Ukraine

Samba beaten: Rooney also scored in last month's friendly victory over Brazil

Samba beaten: Rooney also scored in last month's friendly victory over Brazil

Unfortunately, the red cards against Portugal and Montenegro spring more readily to mind.

He compares well with Owen, another teenage prodigy. Rooney has seven fewer goals in 10 fewer games, a ratio he should be confident of boosting tomorrow against San Marino, ranked the world’s worst international team by FIFA.

Beyond this, Rooney’s contribution cannot simply be calculated by goals. He has been up front alone, in a pair, in the hole off the front man and, occasionally, wide. You can even throw in the odd cameo in midfield.

He craves involvement, ever willing to do a job in a different system. It is still the way at Manchester United. Picked against Real Madrid away, he was dropped at home. Is this evidence of his slow conversion from playmaker to workhorse

Workhorse Are Rooney's talents being wasted

Workhorse Are Rooney's talents being wasted

Superstar: Rooney was the sensation of the tournament at Euro 2004

Superstar: Rooney was the sensation of the tournament at Euro 2004

New hero: Rooney's emergence suggested England possessed a world beater

New hero: Rooney's emergence suggested England possessed a world beater

International awakening: Rooney also excelled a year before that, on his competitive debut against Turkey

International awakening: Rooney also excelled a year before that, on his competitive debut against Turkey

Time to celebrate: Rooney has been a regular for England since that star turn against Turkey

Time to celebrate: Rooney has been a regular for England since that star turn against Turkey

Fabio Capello perhaps came closer than others to unlocking the secret for England. Rooney scored half of his 24 competitive England goals for Capello. Nine of them came in nine qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, playing up front with Emile Heskey.

But he travelled to South Africa with questions surrounding his fitness and, it would later emerge, his head in a spin from personal issues.

Under the pressure of comparisons to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he cut an angry figure, swearing at a female linesman in a practice match, scrawling abusive messages on his golf shoes and sounding off into a TV camera about England fans who booed the team after a goalless draw against Algeria.

Rooney went a year without a goal for England while strike partners came and went: Bobby Zamora, Peter Crouch, Darren Bent, Kevin Davies, Ashley Young, Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck have all had a go since the last World Cup.

Out of form: Ashley Young

Out of form: Ashley Young

Good foil Danny Welbeck

Good foil Danny Welbeck

Forgotten man: Darren Bent

Forgotten man: Darren Bent

When Hodgson took the job last year, he was unequivocal about his star man. ‘We all know Rooney is best as a No 10,’ he said.

‘The fact he’s such a good player and can play in other positions, that’s another matter. From my conversations with him, from all the games I’ve watched him play, he’s extremely dangerous as a second striker.’

Last month, in a friendly against Brazil, Rooney was the spearhead in a 4-3-3 shape designed to accommodate Jack Wilshere. The experiment worked well and the most encouraging aspect of the 2-1 victory was the way that Wilshere, Rooney and Tom Cleverley combined.

Will Hodgson stick to this shape with Wilshere injured or take a step back In two qualifiers with Rooney available in this World Cup campaign, he played in tandem with Welbeck against San Marino and Jermain Defoe in Poland.

Missing link: England are to be without Jack Wilshere

Missing link: England are to be without Jack Wilshere

Again, his flexibility does not help Rooney stamp his identity on an England team.

Gerrard may sympathise — it has happened to him too — and will have his own views on why the 17-year-old who made such an impact on his full England debut did not break into the world elite where Messi and Ronaldo reside.

At 27, Rooney can still leave his mark on international football and paste new images over those red-mist moments with some unforgettable goals.

Where better to start than San Marino Where better to prove a point on Tuesday than Montenegro, scene of his last England meltdown Where better to make an impression than a World Cup in Brazil

VIDEO: SCOTT PARKER DISCUSSES ENGLAND V SAN MARINO

QPR"s Harry Redknapp doesn"t blame Eden Hazard for kicking Swansea ball boy

QPR boss Redknapp: I don't blame Hazard for kicking 'disgusting, idiotic' ball boy

By
Press Association Reporter

PUBLISHED:

11:39 GMT, 25 January 2013

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UPDATED:

12:03 GMT, 25 January 2013

Harry Redknapp has absolved Chelsea’s Eden Hazard of blame for his red card against Swansea, instead branding the actions of the ball boy involved as 'disgusting'.

Hazard was sent off by referee Chris Foy for kicking Charlie Morgan in the closing stages of Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at Liberty Stadium.

The Belgium playmaker lost patience when the 17-year-old ball boy refused to hand over the ball after it had gone out for a goal-kick.

'Disgusting': Redknapp did not agree with the ball boy's behaviour

'Disgusting': Redknapp did not agree with the ball boy's behaviour

Morgan fell to the ground as Hazard attempted to get the ball from him, with the 22-year-old Chelsea star then trying to kick it from under him but appearing to instead make contact with the youngster.

QPR manager Redknapp sympathises with Hazard and holds Morgan responsible for the incident.

'Hazard toe-poked the ball under the boy’s body. Why is the kid lying on the ball in the first place' he said.

'Idiot': Redknapp sympathises with Hazard's frustration

'Idiot': Redknapp sympathises with Hazard's frustration

'You can imagine the frustration – you’re a player trying to reach a cup final but there’s this kid behaving like an idiot who won’t give you the ball back.

'Hazard didn’t kick the kid, he kicked the ball underneath him, but the whole thing got blown out of all proportion.

'I can think of a lot of players who would have kicked a bit harder than he did. He just toe-poked the ball away.

Exit: Chelsea were eliminated at the semi-final stage

Exit: Chelsea were eliminated at the semi-final stage

'The boy was tweeting before the game that he’s a super time waster. The way he behaved was disgusting.'

Morgan himself briefly broke his silence last night, tweeting: 'Crazy 24 hours. Spoke to Hazard and I will not be pressing charges. Be in touch.'

Despite that, South Wales Police have been obliged to continue investigating the incident after receiving three complaints.

Settled: Morgan will not be pressing charges

Settled: Morgan will not be pressing charges

'Three calls have been received from members of the public living in Sussex, Kent and west Wales which are being followed up,' a police spokesman said.

Hazard was assumed to have avoided criminal charges when the matter was dropped after he and the teenager met and made mutual apologies.

Reading are about to sign Tom Rogic from Australian side Central Coast Mariners

Reading nearing second signing of the transfer window as fee is agreed for Aussie Rogic

PUBLISHED:

10:19 GMT, 2 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:19 GMT, 2 January 2013

Reading are close to signing Australia international Tom Rogic to help bolster the options in central midfield.

Playmaker Rogic, 20, has shone for the Central Coast Mariners and is due to reach the end of his contract in May.

Reading fans will be hoping Rogic can give their midfield the spark it lacks

Ingenuity: Reading fans will be hoping that Rogic can ignite their midfield

He came close to joining Reading in 2011 when the Berkshire club failed to secure a work permit for him.

Mariners chairman Peter Turnbull said: 'We have been in discussions with Reading and both clubs are fairly satisfied with what's on the table and now it's up to Tom to reach a personal agreement with Reading.

'I am not going to say what the figure is but there is an agreement there. Of course we don't want to see him go,' he said to SBS' The World Game.

'I'd like to have Tommy here for another six years because he's a special player.

'But the reality is that quality Australian players will always want to test themselves overseas where they can command the salaries and exposure they cannot command here.

'You have seen it with the Harry Kewells, Brett Emertons, Lucas Neills, Jason Culinas and so many more over the years.

'We could keep Tom here until May when
his contract expires but then he could leave for nothing, and we as a
club would be out of pocket. It's a situation where our hands are really
tied.

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Rogic has been capped four times by Australia

International Pedigree: Rogic has been capped four times by Australia

'The way things are now I would expect that things will be resolved by the end of the week concerning Tom and it may be that he will decide to stay, though considering his past association with Reading perhaps that would be unlikely.'

Reading director of football Nick Hammond said in The Sun: 'We've been monitoring Tomas closely for the past year or so and were really disappointed when we couldn't sign him because of those work-permit issues.

'Our opinion of him has only got higher.

'He's a smashing lad. I have no doubt he has the potential to play in the Premier League.'

Rogic made his senior Australia debut against South Korea in November.

Luka Modric and Alex Song voted worst signings of the season in Spain

Top of the flops! Modric and Song voted worst signings of the season in Spain

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UPDATED:

19:30 GMT, 31 December 2012

Two former Premier League stars have been voted as the worst signings of the season in La Liga, by readers of Spanish newspaper Marca.

Luka Modric, who left Tottenham for Real Madrid after protracted negotiations, and Alex Song, who signed for Barcelona from Arsenal, were the worst rated, with Modric gaining 32.2 per cent of the vote.

Croatian Modric initially impressed on debut for Jose Mourinho's side, but has failed to push on and claim a regular role either as a deep-lying playmaker like Xabi Alonso, or attacking midfielder like Mesut Ozil.

Flop: Both Luka Modric and Alex Song have struggled to adapt to life in Spain

Flop: Both Luka Modric and Alex Song have struggled to adapt to life in Spain

Flop: Both Luka Modric and Alex Song have struggled to adapt to life in Spain

In total, he has scored once in 19 appearances, though they only total 717 minutes, or around eight full matches.

Speaking to Sportske.net, Modric said: 'This is Real Madrid, I know the huge media pressure on transfers.

'I'm not looking for an alibi, I'm not that guy, but it's very demanding to adjust to a huge club like Real Madrid.

'I have had a number of solid performances, I failed in some but overall I proved I can offer something.'

As for Song, the Cameroon international has featured in just seven games, the majority of which have come at centre-back as opposed to his preferred midfield role.

Another former Premier League star did receive acclaim, though, with Obafemi Martins coming second in the poll for best signing of the season.

New lease of life: Obafemi Martins has hit the ground running at Levante

New lease of life: Obafemi Martins has hit the ground running at Levante

The former Newcastle and Birmingham City striker is now at Levante, where he has scored six times in 21 appearances. Barcelona's Jordi Alba won the vote.

In the same survey, Lionel Messi unsurprisingly won the player of the year title with a staggering 60 per cent of the vote, ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (14.4 per cent) and Radamel Falcao (10.6 per cent).

Elsewhere, Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova were all beaten to the coach of the year gong by Atletico Madrid boss, the former Argentina international Diego Simeone.

So, with La Liga passing judgement on their top and flop stars, we asked Sportsmail writers for their signings of the season so far…

Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)

The midfielder may also rival Gareth Bale for the best dive of the season which earned a penalty against West Brom, but he made an immediate impact when he joined Arsenal and has continued to impress.

England’s Jack Wilshere can only learn from playing with the diminutive Spaniard, whose balance, vision and close ball control is simply a pleasure to watch.

LAURA WILLIAMSON

Santi's come to town: Arsenal's Santi Cazorla has been excellent since joining

Santi's come to town: Arsenal's Santi Cazorla has been excellent since joining

Steven Nzonzi (Stoke City)

I struggled to see the point of Nzonzi at Blackburn but all has become clear since his switch to Stoke. Big and strong, he looks tailor-made for Tony Pulis’ side, but there is far more to him than brawn.

His composure on the ball and distribution are qualities Stoke have been crying out for in central midfield. Nearly everything goes through him.

JOHN EDWARDS

Solid at the back: Sebastien Bassong

Solid at the back: Sebastien Bassong

Sebastien Bassong (Norwich)

The Cameroonian, a snip at under 3m, is the leader of defence and a big factor why they are over-achieving. Calming influence and set-piece threat, scoring three times.

LAURIE WHITWELL

Steven Fletcher (Sunderland)

Martin O’Neill’s No1 summer target has shown fans what all the fuss was about and in the early weeks of the season his goals kept Sunderland afloat.

COLIN YOUNG

Michu (Swansea)

Considering Michael Laudrup’s extensive experience of European football, Michu was hardly a discovery, but in an era when foreign players are given six months to settle, Michu took to life in the Premier League straight away.

Signed from Rayo Vallecano for 2.2million, 13 League goals so far is a remarkable return. Shows desire, application and the right attitude. Good on him.

NEIL ASHTON

Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)

When Ledley King's knees finally gave way, Spurs looked short of real class at the back, but Vertonghen has stepped in with ease.

The former Ajax captain is comfortable on the ball and, though not the fastest, makes up for it by reading the game well.

He can provide cover at left back and is a threat going forward as he proved by scoring the opener in Spurs' win at Old Trafford. His 10m price tag has been easily justified.

ANDREW MAGEE

Eden Hazard wants to move to Real Madrid, says Christian Benteke

Hazard dreams of a Madrid switch! Benteke claims Chelsea playmaker would love move to Spain

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UPDATED:

09:56 GMT, 23 December 2012

Christian Benteke has claimed Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard dreams of joining Real Madrid.

Aston Villa's in-form target man has known the midfielder for years after playing with him for Belgium at youth level.

In a recent interview in Belgium the striker, who will come face-to-face with his friend this afternoon at Stamford Bridge, said he thinks Hazard would be ready to join the Spanish giants within a year.

Wish: Eden Hazard has always dreamed of moving to Real Madrid, according to Christian Benteke

Wish: Eden Hazard has always dreamed of moving to Real Madrid, according to Christian Benteke

He said: 'I am not surprised at Eden’s success with Chelsea — and he can do even better. He has the qualities needed to become an even greater player.

'His dream is to join Real Madrid — so I don’t see why he can’t join them in a year or two.'

Chelsea spent a long time convincing Hazard to move to south west London and this news will be unwelcome.

Benteke, 22, continued: 'We used to play together in Belgium junior teams. He would play No 10 and I was No 9 and there was an understanding between us straight away.

'He has a bit of fantasy about him and so do I. We are good mates.'

Hazard started off at top speed but after his initial impact his form has levelled out – disappointing some.

He is also expected to perform by Belgian fans who are sometimes frustrated when he is not at his best.

Benteke said: 'People expect too much from Eden. They should not just focus on him alone.

'He will be able to make a difference and Belgium will be able to count on him.

Old friend: Benteke has known Hazard for years

Old friend: Benteke has known Hazard for years

'You must not expect him to do what he did when he played for Lille — he does not have the same level of understanding with his national team-mates.'

Benteke says Hazard feels great pressure at Chelsea because of his price tage – he cost 32million.

He said: 'He has already told me what his life is like with the high levels of expectation.

Tucked away: Hazard rolls the ball home as Chelsea routed Leeds in the Capital One Cup

Tucked away: Hazard rolls the ball home as Chelsea routed Leeds in the Capital One Cup

'He has been signed for many millions of pounds and he will always have the pressure of his price tag.

'He will forever have to do more than the others, he is condemned to always be at the top of his game.

'He realises this and he relishes the challenge. His fantasy football takes off some of the pressure on him. Eden dares to try things and is not afraid to face up to his responsibilities.'

England and Italy fight for Sheffield United striker Diego de Girolamo

England face fight with Italy for the future of United, City and Arsenal target De Girolamo

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UPDATED:

08:18 GMT, 20 December 2012

England are locked in a battle Italy over the future of one of Europe's most talented youngsters.

Sheffield United striker Diego de Girolamo was born in Chesterfield, but qualifies for the Azzurri through his father, who enjoy a top flight career in Italy with Napoli.

The 17-year-old was watched closely by the likes of Arsenal and the two Manchester teams last season after some show-stopping performances for Sheffield United Under 18s.

Pedigree: Blades striker Diego de Girolamo is wanted by England and Italy

Pedigree: Blades striker Diego de Girolamo is wanted by England and Italy

Talks planned: Noel Blake

Talks planned: Noel Blake

However, despite firm interest from some of the country's biggest clubs, De Girolamo signed a three-year professional contract at Bramall Lane.

And now he has another big decision to make with England U18s coach Noel Blake and Italian counterpart Alberigo Evani both seeking talks

A source told the Sun: 'Italy believe they are favourites to persuade Diego to play for them and are confident of winning the battle for his allegiance.

'They have some U18 games coming up shortly and they could force the issue by calling him up.'

De Girolamo took the latest step in his career when he was handed a first-team debut in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

The situation is similar to that of Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby, who Sportsmail revealed two years ago had slipped under England's radar. The talented playmaker was eligible for the Three Lions through his father, but was picked first for Germany, the country of his birth.

Oscar not happy at Chelsea but Rafa Benitez rejects rift talk

Oscar's not happy because he's not playing… but there's no rift, says Rafa

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UPDATED:

09:01 GMT, 19 December 2012

No problem: Rafa Benitez has played down talk of a rift with Oscar

No problem: Rafa Benitez has played down talk of a rift with Oscar

Rafael Benitez welcomes Oscar's dismay at his exclusion from Chelsea's starting line-up in Sunday's Club World Cup final against Corinthians.

Oscar will feature in tonight's Capital One Cup quarter-final at Leeds but has been used sparingly by interim manager Benitez to date, starting just three of his seven games in charge.

The Brazilian playmaker expressed his disappointment after being selected on the bench against Corinthians, but Benitez insists there is no rift with the player.

'Oscar is fine. He's a very good professional. We don't have any issue with him,' he said.

'I try to manage players, especially in his position because we have Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, who can do more or less the same job.

'It's difficult for them but it's good for me because I have different problems. There's are no issues or problems.

'Oscar will have a lot of time on the pitch and I'm sure he'll be a great player for the club.

Backing: Benitez believes Oscar will be great for Chelsea but warned he must bide his time

Backing: Benitez believes Oscar will be great for Chelsea but warned he must bide his time

'Oscar's not happy because he's not playing and that's fantastic. There would be a problem if it was the opposite.'

Leeds will be Benitez' eighth game in charge since taking over 25 days ago, a hectic schedule that continues with Christmas fixtures against Aston Villa, Norwich, Everton and QPR.

'We have to win every competition if we can. We have rivalry with Leeds and we have one less competition to win after losing on Sunday,' Benitez said.

'We can't just call it another game, it's a very important match for us.

'Christmas time is a crucial period because you can play so many games that will change everything.'

Plenty to ponder: Benitez admitted the club are busy identifying potential recruits for January

Plenty to ponder: Benitez admitted the club are busy identifying potential recruits for January

Benitez admits he is in daily discussions with technical director Michael Emenalo over potential transfer activity for January.

'Hopefully we have two or three days after this game where we'll have plenty of time to talk about names,' he said.

'There's no formal meeting because we can chat every day. Michael is watching the training session and we talk every day – about players and how the team is doing.

'I know what Michael likes and he knows what I like and we come to an agreement.'

Chelsea have been stretched by the loss of John Obi Mikel, Gary Cahill and Ramires to suspension and while striker Daniel Sturridge may return from his hamstring injury against Leeds, John Terry is still out with a knee problem despite returning to training yesterday.

Wes Hoolahan praised by Chris Hughton in Norwich win

Hoolahan earns praise from Hughton as Martinez bemoans 'self-inflicted' defeat

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UPDATED:

19:03 GMT, 15 December 2012

Norwich manager Chris Hughton hailed the contribution of Wes Hoolahan after the Republic of Ireland playmaker celebrated signing a new contract with the winning goal in their 2-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Wigan at Carrow Road.

The Canaries, knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Aston Villa here in midweek, made it five successive home league victories to continue their remarkable run of 10 Premier League matches unbeaten.

Heads up: Wes Hoolahan nods home Norwich's second goal to put his side in the lead

Heads up: Wes Hoolahan nods home Norwich's second goal to put his side in the lead

Good start: Anthony Pilkington celebrates after breaking the deadlock in the first half

Good start: Anthony Pilkington celebrates after breaking the deadlock in the first half

Match facts

Norwich: Bunn, Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington (E Bennett 90), Hoolahan (Howson 84), Holt (Morison 90).

Subs not used: Rudd, Martin, Howson, Jackson, Morison, E Bennett, Barnett.

Booked: Bassong, Johnson, Pilkington.

Goals: Pilkington 15, Hoolahan 64.

Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Lopez, Figueroa, Stam, McArthur, McCarthy (Jones 46), Beausejour, Kone, Gomez (Maloney 46), Boselli (Di Santo 72).

Subs not used: Pollitt, Jones, Di Santo, Maloney, McManaman, Fyvie, Golobart.

Booked: Lopez.

Goal: Maloney 51.

Att: 26,677.

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

The latest Premier League table, fixtures and results

Anthony Pilkington set the home side
on their way with a well-taken effort after 15 minutes, only for Wigan
substitute Shaun Maloney to level at the start of the second half.

However, Hoolahan, who has agreed an
extension to stay at the Norfolk club until 2015, arrived on queue after
64 minutes to head past Ali Al Habsi.

'Fortunately for us Wes has signed a new deal and he has earned it, and not just for this season,' said Hughton.

'He was excellent today and to see Wes get a headed goal was worth the entrance fee alone.

'Wes capped off a really good all-round team performance.'

Norwich should have put the game
beyond the visitors, who were again hampered by injuries, but were
thwarted by a string of fine saves from the Latics stopper.

Hughton said: 'We should really have been more than the one up at half-time and when they scored, then there was a concern.

'We made a bit of hard work for ourselves, but I thought over the 90 minutes we thoroughly deserved it.'

Back on track: Wigan celebrate after Shaun Maloney (second right) scored their equaliser

Back on track: Wigan celebrate after Shaun Maloney (second right) scored their equaliser

Take that: Goalkeeper Mark Bunn roars with delight as Norwich regain the lead

Take that: Goalkeeper Mark Bunn roars with delight as Norwich regain the lead

Norwich's remarkable run – they have
not lost in the Premier League since defeat at Chelsea on October 6 –
has seen them climb up to seventh in the table.

Hughton, though, maintained it was
all about keeping a safe distance from any relegation dogfight, with a
trip to West Brom next weekend before Chelsea and Manchester City head
to Norfolk over the hectic festive schedule.

Hitman: Holt fires a shot towards goal, with Norwich on top of their opponents

Hitman: Holt fires a shot towards goal, with Norwich on top of their opponents

Drive: Alexander Tettey launches a strike at Ali Al-Habsi's goal

Drive: Alexander Tettey launches a strike at Ali Al-Habsi's goal

'It is not being negative, but for a
club like ourselves, it is about keeping as big as gap as you can
between us and down,' said Hughton.

'There is no shame in saying that, it is a reality for clubs like ourselves.

'But our form at the moment has deserved it.

'We are a team which has to work very hard for the points we get, so there will be no getting carried away.'

Wigan, meanwhile, have now lost five of the last seven and remain in the bottom three.

The Latics job was not made any
easier following an ankle injury to midfielder James McCarthy, who was
replaced at half-time following a crunching tackle by Bradley Johnson.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez hit out at the Canaries midfielder.

'It was a nasty challenge, one incident off the ball,' the Spaniard said.

Tussle: Jean Beausejour (right) and Norwich City's Robert Snodgrass battle for the ball

Tussle: Jean Beausejour (right) and Norwich City's Robert Snodgrass battle for the ball

Go for it: Roberto Martinez urged his players on as they struggled

Go for it: Roberto Martinez urged his players on as they struggled

'The referee has seen it and has given Johnson a yellow card.

'It is one of those actions you don't
want to see. James McCarthy has been in good form, and they took him
out of the game, which is very disappointing.'

Martinez added: 'It is his ankle
ligaments, we will X-ray it and get the results from the scans very
shortly, but I doubt if he will be available for the next 10 days.'

Wigan have several key men missing
through injury, notably in defence, and Martinez felt his team had
simply failed to get themselves a foothold in the match.

Chris Hughton

Hoolahan

Good day: Chris Hughton (left) saw his side emerge triumphant with Hoolahan (right) in fine fettle

Hands on hips: Grant Holt watches on as ref Lee Probert blows his whistle

Hands on hips: Grant Holt watches on as ref Lee Probert blows his whistle

'Our start was sluggish and
pedestrian, we were very, very, very poor and had our goalkeeper to
thank for keeping us in the game,' he said.

'The second half was very different, we started to control the game and Norwich had to start to defend.

'We scored a beautiful goal and were
starting to build positive momentum, so our disappointment is the
smallest man on the pitch gets a free header in the six-yard box.

'I felt with our second-half performance we merited something out of the game, but it was a self-inflicted defeat.'