Martinez: QPR interested in Jelavic but squad depth comes first

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Everton manager Roberto Martinez has confirmed to The Guardian that striker Nikica Jelavic has drawn interest from a number of destinations, including recently relegated Queens Park Rangers.

The Croatian striker has been inconsistent at best this year, mostly due to his spotty minutes.

He’s started just five matches all year, making nine total appearances, and has yet to find the back of the net.  He hasn’t played a full 90 yet and since September 21 he’s featured just four times – all substitute showings.

“They have asked but there is nothing concrete,” Martínez said. “We have had a few clubs ask about Nikica and Johnny Heitinga because I made it public. Teams have been really interested in two players of their experience and want to find out about the situation.”

Martinez also confirmed that they will not loan Jelavic out, as he will leave strictly on a permanent transfer.

However, despite the obvious availability to other clubs, the first requirement is to find a replacement, something made a necessity thanks to an injury to Arouna Kone.

“That would be the case with Arouna injured,” he said. “Niki will never go out on loan because it would leave us totally open and we cannot replace him in that respect. He’s a big asset and, if we are allowing him to move, it’s out of respect to his career and what he has done for us.

Martinez continued to acknowledge that while he wishes to present his player with the opportunity to move for moinutes, the health of the club must be the first priority.

“He needs to play to go to the World Cup and I accept that but it has to be the right terms for the club. I wouldn’t let the squad be weakened just to satisfy an individual.”

With Kone out, it leaves Everton incredibly vulnerable at the striker position, as an injury to Lukaku is all that remains between Jelavic and a forced starting spot.  Lukaku is on fire for the Toffees, but one minute could change all that should the big loanee succumb to some bad luck.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia