Short Soccer, January 19, 2013

Celtic forward Kris Commons is raring to go as the Scottish Premier League prepares to return after its winter break.


Celtic forward Kris Commons is raring to go as the Scottish Premier League prepares to return after its winter break. The league shut down for two weeks at the beginning of January, allowing the Celtic players a much-needed break as they continue to battle on four fronts. Celtic top the league by nine points and have a League Cup semi-final match against St Mirren before they face Italian giants Juventus in their Champions League last-16 match. After playing 45 minutes in the friendly win over Steaua Bucharest midweek, Commons is looking forward to getting back into action when Hearts come calling at Parkhead. "I needed that. I've played one game in five or six weeks, so I definitely needed it," Commons said. "Sometimes with these friendlies, when you are abroad, you can go through the motions. But I thought there was a decent tempo to the game. It's back to basics now and playing football. I am looking forward to being back home and back into the league action this weekend." Celtic completed the signing of Australian international Tom Rogic from Central Coast Mariners during the winter break. AFP


Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes will not renew his contract when it expires on June 30 next year, his agent said yesterday. Valdes' representatives told the club of the decision at a meeting on Thursday, his agent Gines Carvajal said. "The agents of Victor Valdes have informed Barcelona FC in a meeting ... of the player's irrevocable decision not to renew his contract, thus avoiding entering into financial discussions," he said. The 31-year-old keeper has been at Barcelona since 2002. Valdes' Facebook page was flooded with more than 700 comments from fans, some angry at the timing of the mid-season announcement, others pleading with him to stay, asking why he wanted to go, or just wishing him the best. AFP


Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher will miss the rest of the season after undergoing fresh surgery to resolve his bowel condition. The Scotland international returned to action in September after 10 months out recovering from ulcerative colitis - a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. United said the 28-year-old Fletcher had enjoyed a "period of sustained good general health", but still required the latest procedure. "Whilst it is frustrating for both Darren and the club that he won't be able to contribute further during this campaign, this decision has been taken with our full support in the best interests of his long-term health," United said in a statement. "We look forward to him returning next season with this problem firmly behind him." AP