Swans’ Sanches battling to be fit
SWANSEA City could face Town without Portugal international Renato Sanches.
The 20-year-old midfielder, who is on loan from Bayern Munich, injured a thigh as the Portuguese beat Andorra and Switzerland to book their place at the 2018 World Cup.
“We’re in pretty good shape, but one issue is Renato Sanches who is a major doubt for the game,” said Swans boss Paul Clement.
Swansea lost 1-0 at West Ham United before the international break to drop into the bottom three, but Clement said that it is too soon for people to be dismissing Swansea’s survival chances.
“It’s much too early. Last season when I arrived they were writing us off,” he said.
“You would see media and pundits saying Swansea were down, it makes no difference to us.
“A couple of wins changes that, so I don’t take much notice of it.
“I think this is a team that will get better and better as the season goes on.
“I expect them to show an improvement and I’m confident we will be better in the second half of the season than the first.”
Swans midfielder Nathan Dyer is available after eight months out with a ruptured Achilles, while striker Wilfried Bony is rated as 50-50 and will undergo a late fitness test.
“It’s been a long absence for Dyer,” Clement said. “He’s been very professional through a difficult injury. It’s been a long road for him.
He’s played a few Under 23 games, he’s ready for selection but it would be difficult for him to play 90 minutes at this level.”
Clement was expecting a test from a Town team looking to get back to winning ways.
“You can have that excitement and play without fear, and they picked up two wins and a draw in their first three games,” said Clement.
“But they’ve plateaued a bit and I’m sure they’ll come to us wanting to get a good result.
“We feel optimistic our form is going to change. We’ve worked on some things since the West Ham loss and the players have responded.” ■■Gordon Strachan’s reign as Scotland head coach has ended.
The Scottish Football Association announced that Strachan would not continue in the role after Scotland’s World Cup hopes ended with a 2-2 draw in Slovenia on Sunday.
A statement read: “The board of the Scottish FA and Gordon Strachan have agreed that the Scotland national team will be led by a new head coach in preparation for the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. Gordon’s tenure will end with immediate effect along with that of his assistant coach, Mark McGhee.”
Strachan’s future came under serious consideration after his side took just four points from their first four matches in Group F, but they finished the campaign unbeaten in six matches, finishing third behind Slovakia on goal difference.