Chris Herd on form for World Cup qualifier

Aston Villa coach Alex McLeish heaped praise on 22-year-old Australian Chris Herd, who he hailed as man-of-the-match in Aston Villa’s 0-0 draw with Wolverhampton on Saturday night.

The full-back was busy throughout the contest and almost snatched a late winner for his side.

“Put it this way, Herdy didn’t do himself any harm at all. He’s a player who went out on loan last year, played a couple of games for the first-team and showed today his desire,” McLeish said.

“Can he take that up another step? Can he give us the full blooded quality as well?

“There’s no doubting about his athleticism. Some of his deliveries from wide areas were tremendous. Everything today for Herdy went right. It’s about putting a game together consistently for a number of games. That’ll be the test for him.”

His club mate Shane Lowry is reportedly the target of Ipswich Town, Cardiff City and Middlesbrough, who are interested in getting the defender on loan.

Elsewhere, Brett Emerton was handed the captain’s armband by Blackburn manager Steve Kean for his farewell appearance at Eawood Park before moving to Sydney FC.

But he didn’t get the dream farewell, with his side hitting the woodwork on more than one occasion before conceding a late penalty against Tim Cahill‘s Everton.

Cahill, a second-half substitute, later used Twitter to deny he is under an injury cloud ahead of the Socceroos opening World Cup qualifier on Friday.

“Good win and fans were class as always. Farewell to emerton gutted I only played 35mins in his last game in uk.”

Cahill, who along with Emerton was named to play in Australia’s world cup qualifiers against Thailand in Brisbane on Friday and away to Saudi Arabia on September 6, also took the opportunity to allay any fears fans had about his fitness.

“I’m fully fit, looking forward to world cup qualifiers against Thailand and Saudi Arabia. Getting ready to board plane soon to OZ.”

Kean had nothing but praise for Emerton and his long-standing dedication to the club.

“It’s a marvelous contribution, I wanted to make him skipper today just to give a farewell to the fans. I think what he has done here as a professional I think will always be remembered,” Kean said after the match.

“I think his shift back to Sydney was an opportunity. He had to go back home to the city where he was brought up and his wife’s from and we felt as a club that we couldn’t stand in his way because he’s given such good service in his time here.”

In the nPower Championship, Mile Jedinak completed his first 90 minute display for Crystal Palace in a 1-1 draw against Blackpool, while Rhys Williams (Middlesborough), Neil Kilkenny (Bristol City), Adam Federici (Reading) and Patrick Kisnorbo (Leeds United) started for their sides. 

In Holland, Tommy Oar scored an equaliser for FC Utrecht against Roda JC in the Eredivisie, before his side went on to win 3-1.

On the opening day of the new Italian Serie B season, Carl Valeri put in a full shift as Sassuolo defeated Nocerino 3-1.

In Asia, Sasa Ognenovski fired Seongnam Ilhwa into the final of the Korean FA Cup with the opening goal in their 3-0 semi-final win over Pohang Steelers last week. Seongnam, who are currently 13th in the K-League, will face Suwon Bluewings in the final of the FA Cup on October 15.

Josh Kennedy will arrive home with his goalscoring boots on after netting in Nagoya Grampus’ 4-1 win over Yokohama F. Marinos’ to move into the top two in Japan.

by Buford Balony

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