Laurent Backs 'wonderkid'

Laurent Courtois is backing summer signing - and fellow Frenchman - Youssef Sofiane to be a big hit in time.

"I know a bit about him," says Laurent, "he is a striker who loves to score, often with a one-touch finish, and he is a very good signing.

"He is very quick and a good player, but we mustn't forget he is very young, so we have to be patient with him. Hopefully soon he will be a good striker for the first team, though."

That is certainly what the player himself hopes for, and Laurent adds:

"It is football now; the young players don't want to wait too long to play, and at Auxerre he would have had to wait a long time to get in the first team.

"But in England, or places other than France, that chance can come sooner."

As for himself, Laurent says: "We have started training and I am very much looking forward to next season. It is going to be harder to get in but I believe in myself."

World Cup trio Trevor Sinclair, Joe Cole and David James joined up with their club-mates in Portugal for warm weather training last weekend - and Laurent says he will congratulate Trevor especially.

"I was so happy to see him playing for England," he admits, "because I feel he really deserved it. He had a really good World Cup and hopefully he won't be too tired for us this season."

As for France's disappointing first round exit, he adds: "I don't care. It was so poor to see this team playing like that. They don't deserve more than they received, so we don't have to be disappointed.

"I don't think England deserved more than they got either. Brazil were better and England's goal was lucky, so for me it was right that Brazil went further."