Messi to be treated for kidney problem

Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi will undergo a medical procedure on Tuesday after a recurrence of a kidney problem forced him to miss training on Monday.

Messi sat out Barcelona’s Club World Cup semi-final against Guangzhou Evergrande in December after being diagnosed with renal colic, a type of abdominal pain that is commonly the result of kidney stones. 

According to Mundo Deportivo, the 28-year-old will undergo shock wave lithotripsy at the Dexeus University Hospital in Barcelona in an attempt to remedy the aliment. 

Barcelona confirmed that Messi is expected to join the team ahead of the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final clash with Valencia on Wednesday. The Argentina captain is set to be available for selection, but it remains to be seen whether he will risked as Barcelona have a 7-0 lead heading into the second leg. 

"FC Barcelona striker Lionel Messi will undergo several tests on Monday and Tuesday to assess the evolution of the kidney problems he suffered last December," a club statement said. "Messi will return to his normal duties with the first team on Wednesday."

Messi, who was sidelined by a knee injury earlier in the season, has enjoyed a successful season thus far in which he has scored 24 goals and notched up 11 assists in 28 games in all competitions for Barcelona. 

Zouma ruled out for six months

Chelsea have been handed a huge blow with the news that defender Kurt Zouma will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

The France international was forced off in the second half of Sunday's 1-1 draw with Manchester United after landing awkwardly.

Subsequent scans revealed Zouma suffered ligament damage and is set to miss around six months after he goes under the knife this week.

A statement released on Chelsea's website read: "Chelsea Football Club's medical team have diagnosed that Kurt Zouma sustained an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament during yesterday's [Sunday's] Premier League game against Manchester United.

"Kurt will undergo surgery in the next 48 hours and is expected to be out for approximately six months."

The injury effectively ends the 21-year-old's hopes of representing his country at Euro 2016 on home soil in June.

Tuchel: No Kagawa problems

Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel says he has no problem with Shinji Kagawa after the midfielder was left out of the squad on Saturday.

The Japanese international was a notable absentee from the matchday squad for Die Borussens' 0-0 draw with Hertha Berlin at the weekend.

Tuchel, though, says he spoke with Kagawa ahead of the game and denied that he had any issues with the player.

"Obviously I talked with Shinji about not calling him up for Berlin. Those decisions are part of the game," he said.

"Leaving Kagawa out wasn't a part of my general agenda. It doesn't always have to be seen as a scolding.

"I didn't have the feeling that Shinji's mind is free enough to play on his full potential on Saturday.

"We invested a lot on Saturday. We had a lot of intense runs and sprints, but we will field the best available team.

"We don't have to rotate yet because of the strain. We will field the team that is tactically best suited versus Stuttgart."

Alonso braced for 'intense' month

Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso has warned his teammates to be at their very best ahead of what could be a pivotal month.

The Bavarians first take on Bochum in a DFB-Pokal quarter-final on Wednesday before League games against Augsburg, Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern also face a last-16 tie against Juventus in the Champions League and Alonso knows Bayern will have to rediscover their best form if they are to make the most of the month ahead.

"A very intense month awaits. We have a major game coming up against Bochum in the DFB Pokal, then some tough games against Augsburg, Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and the Champions League tie with Juventus is around the corner as well," he told TZ.

"The important, decisive stages of the season are starting now and we have to be at our very best. I'd say that we are still developing. We still have room for improvement.

"We want to reach the level we had back in October and November again. We put in some very good performances back then. We have to keep improving if we want to achieve the same level once more."

Klopp: Injured trio could return

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has revealed injured trio Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi could return to face West Ham.

Origi and Coutinho have both missed action due to hamstring injuries and were back in training last week, while Sturridge made a return to the bench in the 2-2 draw against Sunderland on Saturday following a lengthy absence.

The Reds line up to face the Hammers in a FA Cup fourth-round replay at Upton Park on Tuesday and Klopp said he hoped to have the trio involved.

"We have not decided on starting line up yet," Klopp said in his pre-match press conference. "Sturridge was fit enough to be on bench on Saturday and was very impressive in Friday's session.

"We would have liked to bring him on [against Sunderland], but the game had a different story with a few early changes. We had hoped he would play for 15 minutes but it didn't happen.

"I hope to have Divock and Philippe Coutinho in the squad. It is complicated because extra-time is possible. They can't all start together because then we have to make three changes.

"It is complicated with changing so we have to look at who will start – the whole game would be too much for all three."

Sandilands targets more starts

Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands is hoping for more appearances in the starting line-up after featuring in the 5-2 demolition of Free State Stars.

Sandilands has fallen down to third in the pecking order this season behind Denis Onyango and Kennedy Mweene. 

Against Stars on Sunday, Sandilands made his third appearance of the season with Onyango sidelined by a knee injury.

"It was good to be out in the pitch. I think the main thing for us is the three points," Sandilands told KickOff.

"We are just very happy. It's a very difficult team to come and play away from home in the stadium with the heat and also the start that they got. It was a very difficult game, so we are very thrilled to come away with three points.

"I just have to be ready and try to pull my weight when I'm called upon because at the end of the day, it's about the collective not the individual.

"So that's where my head is, that's where my focus is. It's about being humble and working hard and when called upon try to make sure the team continues to win."

The 32-year-old could be in action again when Sundowns face Orlando Pirates at the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.

Ronaldo: Two more seasons at Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo has revealed that he intends to stay at Real Madrid for at least another two seasons, but hinted he could leave when his contract expires.

The 31-year-old has been continually linked with a move back to Manchester United, while Paris Saint-Germain have also been named as a potential suitor.

And Ronaldo has now suggested he could well leave the Santiago Bernabeu once his deal expires in June 2018.

"I have been in Spain for six years now. I was in Manchester for six years as well and that was a great experience, a great championship, but for me this is the best league in the world," he said at a gala event organised by Marca.

"It's a privilege to be here. I want to be here for a couple more years and then we'll see. That's the duration of my contract and I want to give my all in that time.

"Let's hope the fans keep supporting as they have been. They are spectacular. We will give everything on the pitch to try and win trophies and the Champions League once again."

West Ham v Liverpool

Liverpool will be looking to get back to winning ways when they face West Ham in an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Upton Park on Tuesday.

The Reds are winless in their last three outings, including the goalless draw in the initial tie at Anfield.

West Ham are not in the best of form either, having won just one of their last five fixtures, losing two and drawing the other two.

The Hammers come into the tie off the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Southampton, but are still sitting in sixth in the standings.

Liverpool are four points behind their midweek opposition in ninth place in the Premier League table.

James Tomkins misses out once again with a calf injury, but Joey O'Brien is set to start for the first time since July, with Sam Byram (cup-tied) and Carl Jenkinson both out.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is expected to make a quick return to the touchline following emergency surgery to have his appendix removed at the weekend.

Philippe Coutinho, Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge are all expected to play some small part after returning to training after their respective injuries last week.

Bidvest Wits v Kaizer Chiefs

Both sides will be looking to close the gap on top spot when Bidvest Wits host Kaizer Chiefs at Bidvest Stadium on Tuesday evening.

The Clever Boys are currently six points off Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, while AmaKhosi are a further four points back.

Wits have recently hit a bit of a speedbump, losing two in three, but have since gone on to draw one and win one, beating Golden Arrows 1-0 in their most recent game.

Manager Gavin Hunt will have to cope without the services of Phumlani Ntshangase, who is serving suspension.

Chiefs, meanwhile, made hard work of their win over Maritzburg United, requiring an injury-time winner from Lorenzo Gordinho to seal a 3-2 victory.

The triumph made it two wins on the trot for the Glamour Boys, who are now unbeaten in three and have lost just one of their last five outings.

Chiefs will be without the injured George Lebese once again, while Tsepo Masilela is suspended.

Zabaleta: We're fully focused

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta insist everyone at the club remains focused on this season, despite the impending arrival of Pep Guardiola at the end of the season.

The Citizens confirmed Guardiola's appointment on transfer deadline day, but the move as garnered much criticism from pundits and media alike, believing it would distract both City and Bayern as they compete for honours this season.

Zabaleta, though, does not believe the new will distract current boss Manuel Pellegrini and insists everyone is focused on making this season a success.

"We suspect changes but it's normal," Zabaleta told the Guardian.

"Now is not the right time to talk about the future because there's a lot of time for this. We just need to be 100 percent focused on the next games. We need to deal with it.

"He's been great for this football club, so he's to continue in the way he has done for the last few years. Nothing changes for him and then we'll see at the end of the season with the new manager coming in."