Paper News and Gossip: Wayne Rooney 'Rested' for World Cup, Courtois Heartache

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterApril 11, 2014

Paper News and Gossip: Wayne Rooney 'Rested' for World Cup, Courtois Heartache

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is set to be rested to ensure he is fit for the World Cup, according to reports on Friday.

    The England international played in the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich with a toe injury, but he may now sit out some matches as David Moyes' disappointing first season in charge peters out.

    Thibaut Courtois is set for Champions League heartache if Atletico Madrid are paired with Chelsea in the last four of the competition, according to newspaper reports.

    But who else is making the headlines on Friday? Read on to find out more.

Wayne Rooney 'Rested' for World Cup, as £200M Manchester Utd Spree Considered

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    Matthias Schrader

    Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is set to be rested ahead of the World Cup, reports David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror.

    The England international played through the pain barrier in the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich after a toe injury.

    But McDonnell claims Rooney is poised to be omitted from some matches in a bid to be fit for the World Cup as United's season peters out.

    Meanwhile, United will turn their attention to a £200 million transfer spree in the summer as they prepare for a meaningless end to the season, reports Neil Rowlands of the Daily Mirror.

    Former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd has revealed that the club approached Sir Alex Ferguson to succeed Kevin Keegan in 1997, reports Graeme Yorke of the Daily Mail.

Thibaut Courtois Set for Champions League Heartache If Chelsea Meet Atletico

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    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Thibaut Courtois is facing the possibility of missing out on the Champions League semi-finals if Atletico Madrid are paired with Chelsea, reports Antony Kastrinakis of The Sun (subscription required).

    The Belgium international has played an integral role in Atletico's march to the last four, but the Stamford Bridge club placed a clause in his loan deal with the La Liga club which means the Spanish side would have to pay £5 million for the goalkeeper to play against the Blues in European competition, says the article.

    Courtois played against Chelsea in Atletico's UEFA Super Cup win in 2012, and Kastrinakis says the clause is believed to be the idea of Jose Mourinho.

    Meanwhile, Chelsea supporters are planning to fund Mourinho's £8,000 fine for improper conduct during the match against Aston Villa, reports Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror.

Liverpool Striker Daniel Sturridge Says He Would 'Still Be on Bench' at Man City

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge believes he would still be on the bench if he had remained at Manchester City, reports Mike Walters of the Daily Mirror.

    The England international left City for Chelsea in 2009 after three years at the Etihad Stadium where he made 21 appearances.

    But while the Anfield striker respects City, he admits his chances would still be limited if he had remained at the club.

    Sturridge is quoted as saying:

    I would not have got to where I am today if I had stayed.

    It was difficult for me at Manchester City as a young player aged 18 or 19, with all the money they have.

    Realistically, you look back and they only have Micah Richards from the academy playing for the club's first team.

    Everyone else has been signed by Man City, so I feel I made the right decision leaving there.

Winner of Liverpool vs. Manchester City Likely to Claim Title, Says Yaya Toure

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    Rui Vieira

    Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure believes the winning team at Liverpool on Sunday are likely to go on to clinch the Premier League title.

    In an interview with Jamie Redknapp for the Daily Mail, the Ivory Coast international was asked whether Sunday's showdown at Anfield will decide the destination of the championship.

    Toure is quoted as replying:

    No doubt about it, the game will be very important.

    We know how difficult it will be against teams fighting relegation but the important thing is going to Liverpool and trying to get a good result.

    After that we have to continue to perform because if we want to win the league we have to win all games.

Everton Manager Roberto Martinez Hits Back at Arsene Wenger's Loan Criticism

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Everton manager Roberto Martinez has branded Arsene Wenger's criticism of the loan system as "ridiculous", reports David Maddock of the Daily Mirror.

    The Arsenal manager was critical of the loan system after Everton beat the Gunners 3-0 last weekend, with the help of on-loan players Romelu Lukaku, Gareth Barry and Gerard Deulofeu.

    But Martinez is quoted as saying in response:

    To criticise us is would be the same as criticising us for developing a lot of young players, and giving them a chance, which is what we have done this season.

    The loan system is something that has to be part of the game. We have seven players ourselves out on loan and you need to develop young players.

    It's just a question of finding a loan system that works. It has got its pros and cons, but from our point of view it works.

    And remember, no loan player would be a success unless you had a strong core group of players, which is what we have here. People forget that.

    Meanwhile, former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour believes Wenger will leave the club if the Gunners do not win the FA Cup this season, reports Paul Brown of the Daily Star.

Cardiff City Reportedly Accuse Palace of 'Spying' Before Last Weekend's Defeat

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    Cardiff City have met with the Premier League over allegations that a "spy" leaked team news details to Crystal Palace two days before last weekend's defeat to the Eagles, reports Rob Beasley of The Sun (subscription required).

    The Bluebirds claim that Palace sporting director Iain Moody used a contact at his former club to leak details of Cardiff's starting line-up before the match, claims the article.

    Palace ran out comfortable winners at the Cardiff City Stadium, leaving the Welsh club and owner Vincent Tan with a fight to remain in the Premier League.

    But Palace co-owner Steve Parish is quoted as saying:

    This is far-fetched and sour grapes. We played Cardiff and beat them fairly.

    I am assured by Iain that he did not speak to anybody directly at Cardiff—or try to get the team out of them.

    He did, however, get a phone call from an agent who gave him 11 names.

    But two of them were wrong, so we can’t even be fairly accused of having the correct line-up.

Former Liverpool Captain Alan Hansen Commemorates the Hillsborough Tragedy

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    Jim Dyson/Getty Images

    Former Liverpool captain Alan Hansen has paid tributes to the Hillsborough victims and their families in an emotional interview with Mark Ogden of the Daily Telegraph.

    Matches across English football this weekend will begin seven minutes later to commemorate the tragedy which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool supporters at the FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest in Sheffield on Apr. 15, 1989.

    At 3:06 p.m. on the fateful day, the Reds' semi-final was stopped by the referee over concerns for fans on the Leppings Lane terrace.

    Hansen, who played for Liverpool on the day, is quoted as saying:

    It is 25 years ago, but because it was so big, so horrific, you remember it like it was yesterday.

    I hadn't played for nine months. I had played in the reserves on the Tuesday, but didn't even know I was playing until one o'clock on the Saturday, two hours before kick-off.

    So when you go on the pitch, you only think of the game. You don't look or think about what is going on behind you. You don't have a clue what is going on.

    But two fans ran onto the pitch and I went to them right away because I was worried they would get us, the club, into trouble for being there. One of them just looked at me, and he had a real sadness in his eyes, and he said, 'Alan, there are people dying in there.'

    Even then, when he said people were dying, my first reaction was one of disbelief, but that was because I was so focused on the game.

    We went into the dressing room, though, and were told there had been fatalities and we showered and just sat down, then met our wives and girlfriends upstairs and they were all in tears. The whole thing was horrific.