City boss Glenn Roeder this morning confirmed that Ryan Bertrand would, indeed, be a City player until the end of the season – as he bid a fond farewell to John Kennedy.
He was, said the City chief, already scouring the ranks of Premiership reserve teams for a Kennedy replacement.
At least – contrary to morning reports – he wasn't in need of a new left-back as his long-standing friendship with Chelsea's Frank Arnesen delivered Bertrand's signature until the summer.
“We've now got an agreement with Chelsea for him to stay all year – which is really great news,” said Roeder, speaking at this morning's Press conference ahead of the Boxing Day trip to Crystal Palace.
The doubt, it appears, was not s much about Wayne Bridge's potential whereabouts next year, rather whether or not the Premiership giants wanted to include Bertrand's name as part of their squad list for the fnal stages of the Champions League. Just in case.
In the event it appears that boss Luis Scolari and his sporting director Arnesen decided that they could do without their England Under-21 full-back.
“That was what I've been talking about over the last few weeks – there was a doubt as to whether he needed to be at Chelsea to be registered for the Champions League next year. But I think that's been sorted out now which allows him to stay here the whole season.
“So, again, it's a big 'Thank you!' to Chelsea and Frank Arnesen who I speak to all of the time. But it's the two-way favour again, isn't it? We're giving him lots of games to help his experience and they're letting us have him for the whole year – a player that we couldn't possibly afford.”
Whether or not the 19-year-old will feature against the Eagles at Selhurst Park is another matter; the on-loan Chelsea starlet – like Elliot Omosuzi and Gary Doherty – hasn't trained since the home win over Charlton Athletic after picking up a badly-bloodied toe courtesy of Rob Earnshaw at Nottingham Forest.
All are, it appears, expected to be there or thereabouts come Boxing Day.
“They have to be OK – being defenders,” said Roeder. “We've only got five. And, obviously, we have to address that in January.”
The one who definitely won'tbe seen again in these parts defensively is the luckless Kennedy. Celtic are now looking to take no chances with his torn knee cartilage; the Parkhead medical team are now recommending the 24-year-old stays on the sidelines for up to ten weeks – if only to make 100% sure that that re-built knee takes all the time it needs to recover fully from this latest set-back.
Bhoys boss Gordon Strachan was, said Roeder, OK about the fact that the defender had returned home as damaged goods after pulling up short in those final, horror minutes at Reading recently.
“Gordon didn't ave a problem with that – he was pleased with how much we used John,” said Roeder, as one possible option for an extended loan spell went outof the window.
“But he said that we're going to take extra care with him after the last operation. The cartilage op was on the bad knee and had he nothad that he would have probably been back in three or four weeks, but they're going to double that time at least – to eight to ten weeks to make sure that he makes a full recovery.
“But that's too long for us; that takes us potentially into March. So it is 'Bye, bye!' to John and thanks very much for what you've done. A great guy and as I've said, I'd have had him in the trenches with me any time.”
There was brighter news regarding Carl Cort – his latest practice match went as well as planned; the newly-signed striker completing 70 minutes of Monday's behind-closed-doors friendly with Colchester United.
“He got 70 – and he was fine. He came out of that really well,” said Roeder, still expecting Cort to enjoy no more than a second-half walk-on part for the next month as they continue to work on his mental and physical confidence. That, this time, the knee will be fine…
“He just needs as many matches as he can get without pushing him too hard over the next month,” said the City chief. “But he's not ready for a start yet. We need to keep using him from the bench at the moment.”
It was, he said, as much the mental side of the long-standing injury that Cort needed to master just as much as the physical aspect.
“That's a big barrier that he needs to break through – and every training session in which he does well, he grows in confidence. It's been a aharrowing experience for him these last few years.
“There'sbeen many times when he thinks it's all behind him and then he gets a massive disappointment when it resurfaces. But this time we feel – touching wood for him and us – that he will be able to play a significant part in the second-half of the season.”
Finally, on-loan Frenchman Antoine Sibierski is now pencilled in for the Forest game on the 28th having returned to Wigan of late to complete the rehab on his injured foot.
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