Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery will return to full training on Tuesday, coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.
Ribery has been sidelined since June, when he damaged ankle ligaments playing for France against Italy at Euro 2008. He took part in shooting practice two days ago.
"It's all going well for him, and we're extremely happy with his progress," Klinsmann told Bayern Munich's Web site. "We reckon on taking a big step forward with him next week."
Klinsmann still doesn't know when Ribery will be able to play in a match.
"The point at which he makes a full comeback depends on how he feels," Klinsmann said. "It's now all about him recovering his rhythm and confidence, the belief you need for one-on-one situations for example."
Defending German Bundesliga champion Bayern next plays at Cologne on Sept. 13.
West Ham United signed left-back Walter Lopez to a one-year contract. The 22-year-old had been a free agent since leaving his Uruguayan River Plate, West Ham said.
"I am very happy that I am here and get to play for West Ham," Lopez said on the club's Web site. "I watch the Premier League all the time on TV. It is the No. 1 league in the world, the best, and it is great to be a part of it."
Lopez, who's played three times for the Uruguayan national team, may compete for a starting spot with Herita Ilunga, who joined West Ham five days ago from Toulouse, West Ham's Web site said.
Mutu doesn't want to pay
Former Chelsea striker Adrian Mutu is appealing a FIFA ruling that he must pay the English soccer club 13.68 million pounds ($24.1 million) for breach of contract.
Mutu, 29, asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the decision, the Lausanne, Switzerland-based sports tribunal said in a statement on its Web site. The Romanian national team player asked the court to annul world soccer's governing body's ruling and to find that no compensation is due, the court said.
FIFA ruled last month that the player had to repay Chelsea after he tested positive for cocaine. Mutu joined the London team from Parma in 2003 for a transfer fee of $29.5 million. Chelsea terminated his contract after the test and sought compensation. In May 2007, the CAS ruled FIFA should decide whether the club was entitled to compensation.
After leaving Chelsea, Mutu joined Juventus in January 2005 and moved to his current Italian team, Fiorentina, the following year.
The CAS hasn't yet set a date for Mutu's appeal hearing.
Barton accepts suspension
Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton was suspended at least six games and fined 25,000 pounds ($44,000) by English soccer's Football Association for an assault on a former teammate.
Barton faces an additional six-match ban if he engages in further violent conduct, both on and off the field, through the end of the 2009-10 season, the F.A. said Monday in a statement on its Web site.
Barton, 25, admitted to an F.A. accusation of violent conduct after clashing with Ousmane Dabo in 2007 while both played with Manchester City. Barton had a hearing with the F.A. Monday before the ruling body's independent disciplinary panel handed down its penalty. Barton pleaded guilty in court in June to assaulting Dabo, causing actual bodily harm, and received a four-month jail sentence suspended for two years. The incident at City's training ground left Dabo, who now plays at Lazio, bloodied and unconscious.
"The commission members wanted to punish the offense appropriately but give Mr. Barton an opportunity to ensure his professional conduct does not falter again and ensure he is fully aware of the consequences should he make another serious error of judgment," panel chairman Maurice Armstrong said.
Barton is immediately suspended for Newcastle's next six matches. He made his season debut in last week's 3-0 loss at Arsenal, where he was loudly booed by the fans at the Emirates Stadium.
Barton was released from prison in July after serving less than half of a six-month sentence he received after pleading guilty to assault and affray following a separate confrontation outside a McDonald's restaurant in Liverpool city center on Dec. 27.
"Much has been written about Mr. Barton over recent months," Armstrong said. "The commission members considered principally the serious attack by Mr. Barton that clearly can not be accepted. The members also had to take into consideration the sanctions imposed by the courts and the pro-active support Mr. Barton has received from Newcastle United FC and other professional bodies."
Barton was disciplined several times while at Manchester City, where incidents included a clash with an Everton fan during a preseason tour, for which he was fined eight weeks' wages. On another occasion he dropped his shorts in the direction of Everton fans, and he also stubbed a cigar out on the eye of a teammate at a Christmas party.
Can England survive Croatia?
An England defeat to Croatia next week in a World Cup soccer qualifying match wouldn't be "the end of the world," former national coach Graham Taylor said.
England beat minnow Andorra 2-0 in Barcelona Saturday, then four days later faces one of its toughest tests in Zagreb. Croatia beat England twice in keeping it out of this year's European Championship.
Croatia hasn't lost at home in a World Cup or European qualifier since the team was established in 1994, and U.K. media have portrayed today's game as one that England coach Fabio Capello can't afford to lose. It will be "the defining match of his 2010 World Cup campaign, if not his entire reign," the Daily Mirror said. Taylor begs to differ.
"It's as if England was to lose then they'll have blown it," he said in an interview. "I don't agree. It's the home game against Croatia (in September 2009) which will be the vital one, and by that time Capello will have worked with the players for longer."
The Andorra match marked marks 62-year-old Capello's first competitive outing since the Italian took the job last December after England failed to reach Euro 2008. He's had five exhibition games so farthree wins, a draw and a defeat.
"There will be immense pressure on Capello," Taylor, 63, said. "He's been brought in to sort all our problems out, and if we just win against Andorra and don't get something from Croatia there will be immense criticism."
Media criticism has been influential in the demise of several of Capello's predecessors, including Steve McClaren, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Glenn Hoddleand Taylor himself. He faced some of the most extreme tabloid attacks and was lampooned as "Turnip Taylor" by the Sun newspaper after England exited Euro 1992.
Taylor lasted three years as England coach, and left in November 1993 after the team failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in the U.S.
The negative media coverage hurt, said Taylor, who also coached clubs including Aston Villa and Watford.
"Sometimes when things aren't going well the media step into your private life and that's where I fell out with them," he said. "There's an advantage of being a foreign manager because the media don't know you."
Already the U.K. press is taking aim at Capello after a stuttering 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic in the last match.
"It is down to him to resolve England's on-field problems which show no sign of going away," The Times said. "After five matches, the experimental period of his reign is over, though it is disturbing to reflect on how little he has learned."
Capello, who has four years left on a 6 million-pound-a-year ($10.6 million) contract, is one of soccer's most decorated coaches at club level. He won nine league titles and a European Cup in a career that includes Roma, AC Milan and Real Madrid. The international arena differs from club games, Taylor said.
"When you become an international manager it's different," Taylor said. "They are not your players. They are other managers' players that you are handling and you have little control over them."
Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard will miss both matches after his coach Rafael Benitez sent him to have surgery on a groin injury in the hope of being fit for the team's next league match against Manchester United on Sept. 13.
"The (England) squad is good but the pressure that builds up becomes so negative that at times the expectations are so high, and great, it's very difficult for those players to meet them," Taylor said.
Fewer than 70,000 people live in Andorra, nestled between Spain and France, making it one of the smallest nations in qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. It lost 3-0 to England in Barcelona in March 2007 during Euro 2008 qualifying, having held the score to 0-0 at halftime.
England's other opponents in its qualifying pool are Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine. The top teams from nine groups go through, and the best eight runners-up go into a playoff for the remaining four spots.
England won the World Cup in 1966 and reached the semifinals in 1990. It's twice been a European Championship semifinalist and never reached the final.
"What right have we got to expect to get to semifinals on a regular basis? Our record over the years is the pits compared to big football nations, yet every two years everyone expects England to do well," Taylor said.
Combined wire sources