Croatias Road To FIFA 2010

Niko Set For Early Comeback

Posted on: August 11, 2007

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by Bill Pierce, PA Sport

Harry Redknapp’s optimistic prediction that Niko Kranjcar would be out for only a fortnight after breaking his foot looks likely to ring true.

The Croatia midfielder, of whom great things are expected in his second season at Fratton Park, is confident he will soon be back from what turns out to be a stress fracture sustained in a pre-season friendly against Bournemouth two weeks ago.

Kranjcar, a £2.2million buy from Hadjuk Split last summer, has not featured for Pompey since his injury.

And Matthew Taylor – scorer of some remarkable goals last season – will take his place on the left of midfield in Saturday’s Barclays Premier League kick-off at Derby.

New £7million striker John Utaka is expected to shake off an ankle problem and make his debut but might have to wait a while to link up again with fellow Nigerian Kanu.

Having just signed a new contract, Kanu – last season’s top scorer – has missed some pre-season work and may be used as a substitute.

David Nugent, another new striker at £6million, looks set to make his debut, possibly alongside Benjani Mwaruwari who is also pushing for selection after a hamstring problem.

But with five top strikers on board – even though Andy Cole has now left the club by mutual consent – it is a major challenge just to make the bench for former crowd-favourite Lomana LuaLua who notched only two goals last season when beset by personal and injury problems.

Now LuaLua insists: “I’m fully fit and ready to go. I just hope I get the chance.

“The manager knows what I can do and I scored a hat-trick in the Bournemouth game after coming on as substitute. I’m feeling on top of my game and all I ask is for the opportunity.”

Ghana ace Sulley Muntari, Pompey’s record signing at £7.2million from Italian club Udinese, will form a central midfield link with Portuguese Pedro Mendes and if Utaka is used wide on the right, which Redknapp is promising, last season’s most consistent performer Gary O’Neil may have to settle for a start on the bench.

He and fellow midfielder Richard Hughes had ankle operations in the summer and are both ready to play but popular defender Linvoy Primus is still at least two weeks away from full fitness after his knee operation.

It has allowed free transfer recruit Sylvain Distin the chance to establish himself alongside Sol Campbell and could mean a tough fight to get back for Primus at 33 – especially if Pompey look sound in major clashes with Manchester United, Bolton, Chelsea and Arsenal which follow the opener.

8 Responses to "Niko Set For Early Comeback"

Niko!!! i saw Corluka play against West Ham HE WAS AWSOME+++++

wheneva i read a post by this HRVATSKA kid he talks some of the most shit.. seriously take it easy mate and talk some sense.. corluka didnt play great he looked abit uncomfortable and he better start running abit more then just looking cause he might be in for a rude awakening.. i kno its first game and as the match went on he looked better goin forward and control of the ball is ok but defending thers a few issues but wel see what happens.. and ur lucky im being picky with u hear HRVATSK cause thers about 20 other posts were i just laugh at what u say

I disagree steve although corluka did look uncomfortable no body could run past him. Still has alot of improving to do and once he gets into the gym he will be playing in the centre of defence. Good start for him but. On Hrvatska i totally agree hes a moron. Talks shit and knows nothing about the game

loll yea.. nah but i was so nervous for him and bellamy went by him lucky not to be a foul and yer he just looks a lil sloppy im a harsh critic but some of his touches were nice.. although in the air hes great. but that guy who replaced him looked very good goin forward hope he doesnt take his spot lol but yer i agree he needs the gym and he will improve his body strength learn from that richards kid hes immense! over all good debut all the best for the season im pissed that edaurdo didnt play and kranjcars injury i feel this season he cud do real well

im pissed to but Edaurdo will play for wednesday for champions league ;D

corluka was solid in his debut..he did a good job against bellamy who is one of the fastest wings in the epl..he didnt go foward much but i suspect he will once he gets more used to the epl and his teamates..at times he did look like he was out of position but then again he has just trained with them for a little over a week..corluka needs a haircut to by the way..

CROATIA BEAT BOSNIA WOOOO 5-3 AND THEY RANKED 6th IN TEH FKCING WORLD WOOT

r u still going to be running the site denis?

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