Dudek has chance to prove himself

Jerzy Dudek’s run in the Liverpool side in the absence of the suspended Pepe Reina has earned him a call-up to the Polish squad for friendlies next month. The Polish coach, Pawel Janas, announced a 30 man squad for the two games earlier this week. He has included West Brom keeper Tomasz Kuszczak in the squad too, a player that drew rave reviews after filling in for Chris Kirkland, Dudek’s rival at Anfield in previous seasons prior to his loan move.

Poland are to play Kaiserslautern and the USA in Germany, on February 28th and March 1st respectively. With four goalkeepers included in the squad, at least one of them is unlikely to travel to Germany for the World Cup itself in June.

The man that has kept Dudek out of the side all season until his suspension is Spanish international Pepe Reina. Reina is available for selection again for Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Manchester United, but Rafa may yet give Dudek one more game between the sticks. Reina himself has been widely quoted this morning as wanting to see Chelsea hammered by Barcelona in the next round of the Champions League.

Reina was a fan of Barcelona already and hoping for them to do well in
the competition, but after the antics of Arjen Robben which saw him con
the referee to get Reina dismissed, the Spaniard is even more behind
the Spanish giants. Reina explained: “Barcelona are a part of my life
and I want them to win, and after what happened at Stamford Bridge I
will be supporting Barcelona even more. I hope that they score four
goals in each leg and that we beat Benfica so we can play against

Reina also spoke of the tackle that led to the incident. Reina was out
of his area when Eidur Gudjohnsen got away with a deliberate handball
to punch the ball away from Reina. With the referee and linesman
failing to take any action he made a last-ditch tackle to try and
prevent Gudjohnsen from crossing the ball into the area. Although Pepe
got the ball, his other leg came round too and so he says he deserved a
booking: “I was wrong. I deserved a yellow card for the foul on
Gudjohnsen outside of the area. I have to admit that it was a ‘pincer’
tackle, but I did not deserve the red I got.”

After the foul the referee was being surrounded by Chelsea players, and
by the time he decided to book Reina the goalkeepers was already back
inside his area. Reina then had to run past Chelsea players who were
continuing to try and inflame the situation further, and that’s when
Robben did his trick: “I went back to the goal area and the referee
called me 30 yards to show me the yellow card instead of just showing
it to me when the incident happened. During those 30 metres, Robben
started making comments to me and when I pushed him off he threw
himself to the ground.”

Reina was pleased to see the press finally stand up to the attitude of
the Chelsea player: “The consolation for me was that all the press took
my side and criticised the Dutchman for diving.”

It wasn’t all criticism of Chelsea from Reina, who perhaps was trying
to give Barcelona some advice rather than trying to pay compliments to
Chelsea: “Chelsea are happiest if they score first as it suits their
game because up front they are the quickest team I have seen – Joe Cole
and Robben especially. They can beat you without seeming to do anything
special, but Essien, Makelele and Lampard never stop running for them.”

Reina, like a lot of others in England, will of course be hoping to see Barcelona score first in their Champions League battle.