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Swansea City headlines as ex-Southampton star given instruction, ‘fantastic’ free agent stance revealed and Liverpool phone call delights Russell Martin

Here’s your round-up of all the latest Swansea City headlines for Tuesday, September 14.

Midfield duo nearing return

Russell Martin says Korey Smith and Liam Walsh are closing in on a first-team return, but admits Wednesday’s clash with Millwall may come too soon for the duo.

Smith has been sidelined with a calf injury picked up during the opening-day defeat to Blackburn Rovers, while Walsh picked up a hamstring problem during the pre-season clash with Southampton.

Martin says he’s been impressed by the professionalism of the pair during their rehabilitation and their return to training, but admits he still has doubts over their availability for Wednesday’s clash with the Lions.

“Korey is back in training, Liam Walsh is continuing, Walshy has been training for a couple of weeks and looking really great, he’s nearly ready. Tivonge (Rushesha) has been great too,” he said.

“Korey has only trained for three days, he was out for four or five weeks. He’s looked really good, which I’m not surprised by as he’s put hard work in and he’s a fantastic professional, he’s looking really sharp.”

READ MORE: Every word from Russell Martin’s pre-Millwall press conference

Obafemi closing in on starting line-up

Another player closing in on a place in Martin’s starting XI is striker Michael Obafemi – and the Swans boss hasn’t ruled out the possibility of playing him alongside Joel Piroe in a front two this season.

The former Southampton striker was one of several players to arrive at the Swansea.com Stadium on deadline day, and made his Swans debut off the bench during the goalless draw with Hull City at the weekend.

Martin admits the Irishman is making good progress in his bid for full fitness, and is poised to have a big impact on his first-team plans.

He said: “You can see what he has got – he is so powerful, has real attributes, a real infectious character, real confidence. He is going to bring us some dynamic energy at the top of the pitch.

“We have to manage him because he has not played really in pre-season. He gave us a bit of a lift when he came on. It’s up to him to put real pressure on Joel, or forces us to play both of them together or him instead of Joel.

“We are excited by Michael. He is at a great age and really hungry.”

Obafemi’s arrival will hopefully offer some stern competition to top scorer Piroe, although Martin hasn’t ruled out the possibility of the pair playing together.

“Yes, definitely (could they play together),” he said. “At my previous club we played with two strikers a lot. We changed things. We played with one, we played with none, we played with wide strikers, so we are more than open to that.

“We are in a position where we need some consistency in the team. We need to work out the real details with the guys and keep things as simple as possible.

“There will be times when we need to change things. We started the season with two strikers up top against Blackburn, so it’s always open to change and there will be a time when they are both on the pitch at the same time.”

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Hamer ‘learning again’

Swans goalkeeper Ben Hamer admits he’s had to go back to the drawing board in order to get used to Martin’s methods.

Hamer was another player to make his league debut for the Swans on Saturday, some eight months after making the move from Huddersfield Town.

The 33-year-old hopes to take his chance to become the ball-playing keeper central to Martin’s possession-based game, but admits he’s still finding his feet under the new regime.

“With time I will get better at it,” Hamer said.

“And hopefully the team will feel more confident with me in goal.

“Even when Leicester won the Premier League, we didn’t really play free-flowing football – there was a lot of counter-attack,” Hamer said.

“When I went to Huddersfield, Carlos Corberan was a very, very good coach. He demanded that the keeper played out, fixing strikers and taking one of the opposition out of the game.

“I was used to it last year. I played a lot of in the first six months.

“But once you don’t play for a while you start to forget it. It’s a little bit different to how Huddersfield were playing [at Swansea]. I am learning again.”

The Liverpool conversation behind Rhys Williams move

Martin says Premier League big hitters are still keen to send their brightest young talents to Swansea.

The Swans snapped up Rhys Williams and Ethan Laird on loan from Liverpool and Manchester United respectively during a busy summer transfer window, and both are likely to be a big part of Martin’s plans for the upcoming campaign.

Martin insists Swansea were at the very front of Liverpool’s thinking when the Reds decided to loan out the youngster, and insists the club’s name still carries plenty of weight when it comes to developing young talent.

“He was one we enquired about really early on and he wasn’t available,” he said.

“When he did become available we were the first people they called, which was fantastic for us. Part of that will be down to Rhian Brewster and what he did here, albeit with a different coaching staff.

“We have had people recently from Manchester United looking at Ethan. They gave us great feedback about the environment, the people we have here and how much he is enjoying it.

“That’s all we can do, for the players we have who are ours and the players we are taking care of.”

Read more.

Meanwhile, Martin says there is little in the rumours linking Swansea with a move for Robbie Brady.

Martin described his former Norwich City team-mate as “fantastic” but that at present there was no substance to the talk surrounding the free agent.

“I love Robbie as a guy. He’s brilliant. Fantastic player. Been in the Premier League for the last however long,” he said.

“But I haven’t spoken to him. I haven’t spoken to him for a while, being honest.

“So there’s nothing in that at the moment. He’s a good player. Really good player, but I just think we’ve got a lot of players at the moment, we just need to work out who’s going to fit in and who’s going to really be with us over a long period of time.

“If it was different timing, then I’d possibly be telling you that I’d be really interested in it, but at this moment in time, there’s nothing there.”

Read more here

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