Liverpool star Momo Sissoko is set to miss the rest of the season with a similar condition to Man United's Paul Scholes. Sissoko has a very serious eye injury that could threaten his whole carrer. He picked up the injury during Liverpool's 1-0 defeat to Benfica on Tuesday night in the Champions League second round. However, Benitez is resigned to being without the former Valencia man for the rest of this campaign.
"He is now more confident about the situation, and we must wait a week for him to have rest and then he will see another specialist," said Benitez. "It is the first time I have seen such a bad eye injury, he needs to rest now. I expect him to play again, but this season will be difficult.
"He is back in Liverpool, he cannot travel so he will stay here for rest. He has heard all the things people have been saying about the injury but for now it is better that he rests and keeps calm. "He is a big loss, but the most important thing is the health of a player. "You have players injured, but when it is this serious you must be more concerned about his health first.
"I do not expect Momo to play again this season, maybe we will see him working again within a few months." In Sissoko's absence Steven Gerrard is expected to revert to his preferred role in central midfield after playing most of the season on the right.
"He (Gerrard) can change matches, and he can do that better from the centre," added Benitez. "Losing Sissoko means the option for central midfield does involve Gerrard. "(Xabi) Alonso and (Dietmar) Hamann can play in the middle, but maybe it is time to start using someone else on the right side.
"Momo was working for everyone, a fantastic player with so much energy right across midfield. "Gerrard is a different type of player but he has more quality and he can change games. "Luis Garcia, too, can play in three different positions, but if we need to use Gerrard in the middle then Luis can play on the right."
This is obviously a big blow for Liverpool football club because losing one of your top performers for your team sure isn't easy. Sissoko has done very very well this season and he was probably hoping to keep up his consistancy for the rest of the season but unfortunatly this has happened. Get well soon Momo!
Here is a full round-up of this weekends FA Cup 5th round ties which saw only Premiership sides progress in the tournament. The best of the matches came at the Valley were Premiership side Charlton hosted an in-form League 1 side Brentford. Charlton went ahead early through there top goalscorer Darren Bent and they never looked backed from there because they went on to score two more goals in the shape of Jay Boythroyd and Bryan Hughes. Brentford did grab a consalation goal late on from Isiah Rankin but it was to little to late.
The worst match of Saturday afternoon saw a bore 0-0 draw between Bolton and West Ham and the two sides will now play a replay at Upton Park in two weeks time. Bolton probably overall had the best chances of the game but failed to take them. Another boring match on Saturday was the tie that looked the most glamorous, Liverpool against Manchester United at Anfield but it failed to live up to expectation and it was won by a Peter Crouch goal early during the first half. The game will be remembered mainly by the whole Alan Smith injury and we all wish him well!
The final game on Saturday was Newcastle against Southampton at St. James' Park. The game was decided only by one goal which came in the shape of out of sorts English man Kieron Dyer. Near the end of the game Southampton's inexperienced goalkeeper was stretchered off with a jarred knee and The Saints had already used all of their subs so substitue Dexter Blackstock went in and did very well, but Southampton just couldn't get that all important equaliser and they crash out in the fifth round.
Sunday's action was very tasty indeed with some lovely goals. Preston took on an in form Middlesbrough side for a place in the next round but Premiership experience was shown during the game by Boro. Yakubu bagged two lovely goals to ensure Steve McClaren's men went on into the next round. The worst game of the day was seen at the Brittania stadium where Stoke City tried to beat out of form Birmingham to qualify for the 6th round but they failed to do that. Birmingham running out 1-0 winners thank to a goal from Finnish striker Mikeal Forrsell.
Chelsea were hoping to avoid a cup upset when they entertained in form League 1 side Colchester United. Colchester started off the better and were rewarded half way throught the first half when Garcia placed a lovely ball into the box and the ball was turned in by Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho. But Chelsea came storming back and got an equaliser ten minutes later through Paulo Ferriera. Chelsea sealed the win with two late goals from substitue Joe Cole.
Aston Villa entertained Man City in the most awkward to predict 5th round matches. City started the better and only for a bad touch by former Villa man Darius Vassell they would of been in front. But City didn't take there chances and Villa counter attacked and scored through former Liverpool man Milan Baros. It looked as though that's the way it would finish but in virtually the last touch of the game, City's 17 year old defender Micah Richards grabbed an equaliser from a lovely corner from Joey Barton. The two sides will now play a replay in two weeks.
Here is the draw for the sixed round of the FA Cup :
Charlton v Middlesbrough (I predict: draw)
Aston Villa or Manchester City v Bolton or West Ham (Don't know yet)
Chelsea v Newcastle United (I predict: Chelsea 2-3 Newcastle)
Birmingham v Liverpool (I predict: Birmingham 1-2 Liverpool)
Alan Smith will definetly not take further part in this season's Premiership campaign or in England's World Cup campaign in Germany in June after he suffered a horror injury during Manchester United's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool in the FA Cup 5th round match today at Anfield. It has been confirmed tonight by Manchester United staff that former Leeds United hard man has suffered a broken left leg and a dislocated left ankle. Smith was attempting to block a John Arne Riise free-kick when he landed very very awkwardly on his left leg and it came apparent straight away that something was wrong when Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar waved franticly at the United physio's.
A grim-faced Ferguson said: "It's one of the worst I've seen. He's broken his leg and there's a dislocation of the ankle joint. "It's a very long-term injury - we're all behind him as he's a brave lad." The game was delayed by five minutes as Smith received treatment and was given oxygen as he was stretchered off. United's medical team were given help by Liverpool club doctor Mark Waller as the midfielder waited to be carried off.
Ferguson added: "I wasn't aware of what had happened because I was following the path of the ball, but you saw the reaction of the players round about Alan and you knew it was a bad one. "It is another bad blow for us and it sums up our season." Ferguson's counterpart, Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez, was quick to offer his sympathy to Smith. "We're all so sorry and we can only wish him all the best for the future," he said.
This is obviously very very bad news for Man United and Alan Smith himself because he had only just returned from a ankle injury today and was brought on during the second half. Smith has been one of United's better players this season and for him to be out for what could be a whole season and a bit would be a devastating blow for the Red Devils. It was a very nice touch to see the Liverpool fans clap him off the Anfield turf. Get well soon Smithy!
Barcelona striker Henrik Larsson has agreed to leave Barca at the end of the season to go back home to his hometown club of Helsingborg. The 34-year-old said in January that he would leave the Spanish champions at the end of the season and he has signed an 18-month deal with Helsingborg. Larsson told Swedish TV Channel SVT: "I am a Helsingborg man from the beginning and, for me, there was no alternative."
The striker joined Barcelona from Celtic in 2004 but missed most of last season with a knee injury. Larsson also came out of international retirement in order to help his country qualify for this year's World Cup finals.
I think that this is the best thing for Larsson because I'm sure he thaught at the start of his carrer that he would love to finish back home in Sweden. He has had a torrid time at Barcelona with injuries but in fairness to him he has never given up. I hope he has a great last few years to his carrer.
Name: Manchester City
Nickname: The Citizens
Manager: Stuart Pearce
Captain: Sylvain Distin
Stadium: City Of Manchester Stadium
Star Player: Joey Barton
One To Watch: Stephen Ireland
Young Gun: Micah Richards
Top goalscorer of all-time: Eric Brook (178 goals)
Most Appearances: Alan Oakes (668 games)
Manchester City are one of the most topsy turvy clubs in all of England. One year they are in the lowest division in England then the next they are challenging for a UEFA Cup spot in the Premiership, but in recent years it seems as though they have managed to stabelise themselves. Many managers have come and failed at Man City but now the future looks bright at the club with their manager been tipped for the best job in England, the international team coach. Stuart Pearce has only been in charge of the club for around about 9 or 10 months and already he has been tipped for the England job. City have brought through many many youngsters from the youth system at City most notably, Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips (now of Chelsea) and Stephen Ireland and that's only naming three. Last season Man City were within a penalty kick from reaching the UEFA Cup and this season you certainly wouldn't bet against them going one better than last season.
Newcastle United's defender Celestine Babayaro has lost an appeal against his red card at Aston Villa. The 27-year-old Nigerian will now be banned for two matches, the FA Cup encounter with Southampton and the Premiership match against Charlton. Babayaro was dismissed for a professional foul on Milan Baros.
"The extra match is because of the fact Babayaro admitted a charge of violent conduct in November last year," said an FA statement. "That counts as a previous sending-off under the disciplinary totting-up process." Babayaro was dismissed in the second half of Saturday's Premiership match but Newcastle still managed to hold on for a 2-1 victory.
I was very very surprised that the appeal was turned down because I thought that in the tackle Babayaro himself was kicked by Villa's Czech striker Milan Baros. Babayaro has done alright this season and I think Newcastle will kind of miss him because in the last two matches under Glen Rodder he has played well and Newcastle have only conceded 1 goal.
Nottingham Forest manager Gary Megson is set to step down as Forest manager after 13 months in the job. It has to be said not a great 13 months for Megson or Forest. The former West Brom manager replaced Joe Kinnear at the City Ground in January 2005.
He was unable to stop the former European champions from slipping into the third tier of English football for the first time in 54 years.Wednesday's 3-0 defeat at Oldham left Forest only four points above the relegation zone.
This news has not really come as a surprise to me and I would think not to the dismay of Forest fans. Megson, to be fair, has done sh*t at Forest but it wasn't all his fault because when he arrived, straight away he lost his two best players, Andy Reid and Michael Dawson, to Tottenham.
Egypt have been crowned with the title of champions of Arfica after they claimed the title of the African Nations Cup tonight after defeating the Ivory Coast on penalties in a bore 0-0 draw. The tie finished as a stalemate in normal time despite late drama when Didier Drogba missed a glorious effort before Egypt had a goal disallowed, and the intrigue continued when Pharaohs skipper Ahmed Hassan agonisingly missed a penalty in a fruitless extra time.
In the dreaded penalty shoot-out Drogba's horror show continued as he missed Ivory Coast's opener after Hassan had made up for his earlier failure, and after Abdul Halim Ali's terrible skied spot kick Bakari Kone also failed to convert - leaving it to Mohamed Abou Treika to send the partisan home support into raptures and shatter The Elephants' dreams.
I am actually very very impressed by Egypt because I thought either Cameroon or Ivory Coast would won the tournament but fair play to the Egyptians. I have to say of the action I saw over all of the tournament that Cameroon's Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o was definetly by far the best player and some of his goals were just breath taking.
Sol Campbell has been ruled out of action for up to three weeks with a ankle injury. The England international defender picked up the injury during Arsenal's 3-2 defeat to London rivals West Ham and he was substitued at half time, but Arsene Wenger said that he was taken off because of mental problems and Campbell was not seen in four days until Wenger heard from him. But he is now firmly back in the Arsenal fold, although Arsene Wenger has confirmed that it will now be at least a fortnight until he returns to action.
"You will laugh," he told the club's official website. "Sol has come back but he is out now because of a foot problem. "He played two or three weeks with it, but the injury became worse against West Ham. We had a scan and he will be out for two or three weeks. "He cannot kick the ball at the moment. It is an ankle injury, but not a ligament problem. It is bone bruising."
This is very bad news for Sol because after he had, had that whole AWOL incident he would of been hoping to get right back into action but unfortunatley for him this injury will halt his progress. Arsenal will suffer badly because their defence hasn't been great this season by any stretch of the imagination and Sol, when he's playing well, can help them.
Rangers boss Alex McLeish has been told that he will definetly be leaving the club in May 2006. The Rangers boss was on the brink of getting the sack late last year but the Rangers board stuck by him. BBC Scotland understands former Lyon manager Paul Le Guen will be the man to succeed McLeish, though chairman David Murray would not confirm that.
Murray said on Thursday that McLeish would leave in the summer, with the club "some way down the road" on a deal for a new coach. McLeish was told on Thursday afternoon that his four-year reign was over. Murray met two of the first-team squad to inform them of the decision.
This news will probably be good news for Rangers because in the last year or so Rangers have really under achieved and the Gers faithful will now be hoping for a new man to come in a lift the team at the end of the season. This news comes just weeks before Rangers play one of their biggest matches in History when the play in the 2nd round of the Champions League against Villareal.