Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United sensation Adnan Januzaj handed call for Kosovo friendly

By Ed Aarons

The Kosovan Football Association (FKK) is hoping to persuade the Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj to play for Kosovo in next month's inaugural friendly with Haiti, although the 19-year-old would still be eligible to represent England in the future if he accepts.

Reports yesterday claimed that the Balkan state's Deputy Prime Minister, Behgjet Pacolli, had issued a personal plea to the 19-year-old to take part in the match in Mitrovica, which will be Kosovo's first since being granted permission to play friendlies by Fifa last month. Pacolli is thought to have made contact with Januzaj's father Abedin – born in Albania but part of the Kosovan liberation movement in his homeland.

"The invitation to him is symbolic, but we believe that he is obliged to show his people that he will be there when needed in a historic moment," the FKK's general secretary, Eroll Salihu, said.

"We should have an answer by the end of this week and Januzaj's appearance would simply show that he has not forgotten his people, even he can play only for 10 or 15 minutes. It is a friendly and would not have an effect on him being able to play for another country in the future."

However, Januzaj's agent Dirk de Vries denied that any talks had taken place and said that his client was "only concentrating on Manchester United".

Januzaj was born in Belgium and is also eligible to play for Albania. Having moved to Manchester United from Anderlecht in 2011, he could qualify for England by 2017 under the five-year residency rule.

Manager Roy Hodgson said last week that he would leave any decision over whether to approach Januzaj to the Football Association board. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but is not a member of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, Juan Mata thinks Manchester United's five-day jaunt to Dubai has helped him settle into David Moyes' squad.

With United out of the FA Cup, Moyes decided to take Mata and the rest of his players on a short warm-weather training camp in the middle east following their 0-0 draw at Arsenal last week.

Mata has made a steady if not spectacular start to life at Old Trafford, setting up Robin van Persie for his goals against Stoke and Fulham.

The Spaniard knows it will take time for him to adapt to United's tactics and personnel though.

"These kind of breaks always help to make the group stronger and to switch off a bit from the different competitions and the tight schedule," the Spaniard wrote on his personal blog.

"These days are good for me to settle more in the team and share these moments with my team-mates and also to train hard and get used to the new working patterns after just three weeks in the club," he added.

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