Radamel Falcao denies injury `mystery
Paris: Radamel Falcao has insisted he is happy at Monaco ahead of Saturday`s trip to Guingamp, despite continued speculation over his "mystery" injury.
The Principality club have been in fine form recently and trail leaders Paris Saint-Germain by just two points following four successive wins.
But the continuing absence of record-signing Falcao, who will sit out his fourth match in a row with a hamstring problem, has seen the rumour-mill spin into overdrive.
On Thursday, leading sports daily L`Equipe said the Colombian`s continuing absence was a "mystery" and that all the elements needed to create a "problem" existed.
But the player himself swatted away any such suggestions.
"I`m happy at Monaco," he said. "I feel bad due to all the speculation.
"First of all, I want to thank (coach) Claudio Ranieri who has kept his patience at this time, who is waiting for me to be better without putting pressure on me.
"The people close to me know full well that I feel very good at Monaco and everything is going well with the club."
Midfielder Jeremy Toulalan had said it was simply a case of mischievous press speculation.
"As soon as there`s a little thing you (the media) plunge into it," he said.
"I don`t have the impression that there`s a problem. But even if I say that, you`ll keep going. That`s the game. For us, there`s no problem."
The issue had threatened to detract from Monaco`s recent upturn in fortunes.
Earlier this month, they travelled to fellow Ligue 1 new-boys Nantes on the back of one win and just five points in their previous four games.
Nantes were on a good run and had they beaten Monaco, would have leapfrogged the Principality club into third place and the final Champions League qualification berth.
But in a tight game, Mounir Obaddi scored the only goal 20 minutes from time to spark a Monaco revival.
Having faced the prospect of dropping to eight points off PSG had they lost, four wins later and they are the champions` closest challengers once again.
Monaco have been flying without Falcao, although he was instrumental to their fine early season form when he shot to the top of the scoring charts.
Even without having found the net since scoring in the 1-1 draw at home to Evian more than a month ago, he is still third in the charts, behind only star PSG pair Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani.
The champions travel to Rennes on Saturday ahead of which a curious dispute has sprung up after the local police chief banned all PSG fans from entering the Ille-et-Vilaine department where Rennes is located unless they have tickets for the game.
A lawyer representing PSG fans has challenged the ruling in court describing it as "illegal" and "a serious attack on the fundamental liberty of coming and going".
Rennes are struggling this season down in 13th place and have lost their last three away games. But they have not been beaten at home since Nantes emerged with a 3-1 success at the end of September.
PSG have demonstrated a touch of fragility recently, losing 2-0 at Evian two weeks ago before being beaten 2-1 at Benfica in midweek.
However, coach Laurent Blanc had rested star performers Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Alex for that match, despite Marco Verratti and Gregory van der Wiel being suspended.
PSG had already secured top spot in their Champions League group and so this recent blip can hardly be seen as a crisis, not least because between those two defeats they crushed Sochaux 5-0 and before losing at Evian were on a 36-match unbeaten run.
In other games, Lyon, down in 10th, and Marseille, fifth but with 10 defeats in their last 14 matches in all competitions, meet at the Stade Gerland on Sunday.
Montpellier v Saint-Etienne (1930 GMT)
Saturday (1900 GMT unless stated)
Rennes v Paris SG (1600GMT), Ajaccio v Lorient, Evian v Reims, Guingamp v Monaco, Nantes v Toulouse, Nice v Sochaux
Bordeaux v Valenciennes (1300 GMT), Lille v Bastia (1600GMT), Lyon v Marseille (2000)