May 20 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is confident defender Steven Caulker is fully focused on football despite the threat of criminal charges from Serbia hanging over him.
The Spurs 20-year-old, Leeds centre-back Tom Lees and coach Steve Wigley have been named as the trio facing possible prosecution in the wake of England Under-21s’ stormy qualifier in Krusevac last month.
The Football Association are still awaiting formal notice of the charges and confusion still surrounds exactly what the process will entail.
FA and government officials are working hard to make the picture clearer - amid reports the cases have been handed over to British jurisdiction - but communication with Serbia is proving difficult.
In the interim, however, Villas-Boas has no doubts about Caulker, who has started the last four matches and is line to face Wigan on Saturday.
“We spoke to the player,” said the Spurs boss.
“At the moment we don’t have enough information, nor do the FA, although there is contact between the FA, the government and the embassy in Serbia to try to find out more information about the speculation that is coming out.
“Regarding the player I think he will be ready to play.
“I think he obviously has a good chance because he has been doing quite well to make selection.
“I am not worried yet with the consequences of what can happen.
“We are still finding out more information.”
Attempts to bring clarity to the issue have been difficult but it is understood that embassy officials in Belgrade are now working to ascertain whether local reports of criminal files being passed over are correct and, if so, how the process will work.
Having finally secured verbal confirmation of the three individuals involved this morning the FA had received no further update by the close of business.
“The FA continues to remain in close contact with the UK Government regarding the continued media reports of Serbian police charging England U21 players and staff,” said a statement released.
“There remains no formal communication of any charges to the FA or the government.
“However, we understand there has been a verbal communication of the names of the individuals concerned, which we now believe to be England players Steven Caulker and Tom Lees, and coach Steve Wigley.
“The FA would like to reaffirm its support for all of our players and staff and we have spoken with the players’ clubs and those named to express this.
“The FA has been taking legal advice in both the UK and Serbia to provide appropriate protection should any charges be brought.
“We welcome the support we are receiving from the UK government.”
Trouble flared at the match on October 16 after England’s Connor Wickham struck in injury time to secure a 1-0 win and passage to next summer’s finals in Israel courtesy of a 2-0 aggregate success.
Missiles were thrown on to the pitch as players celebrated and the scenes turned uglier as some fans got on to the playing surface and there were clashes involving team members and staff of both teams.
The Serbian Football Association (FSS) acted decisively over this matter, handing lengthy bans to two players and two officials for their part in the confrontations.
This trouble also played out against a backdrop of alleged racial abuse from the stands towards England players.
Tottenham defender Danny Rose - on loan at Sunderland - complained he had been particularly targeted and was sent off after the final whistle for kicking a ball away in anger amid the chaos.
European governing body UEFA launched their own disciplinary proceedings, charging the FA over the behaviour of their players and the FSS with the same and for the alleged racist chanting.
UEFA’s control and disciplinary body will convene on November 22 to deal with the case but the police investigation will have no bearing on that meeting.