Lyon eager to put bad start behind them

August 16, 2007

PARIS, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon badly need a win at Lorient on Saturday after a nightmare start to their quest for a seventh successive Ligue 1 title.

Lyon, who have a rest on Wednesday thanks to scheduled opponents Racing Lens' UEFA Cup preliminary match, will be desperate to make amends for their 1-0 defeat at Toulouse last weekend.

The champions' loss on their second league outing of the season was a surprise, and not the only bad news for coach Alain Perrin.

During the match, Lyon's Brazilian captain Cris tore knee ligaments, an injury that will keep him sidelined for six months.

Just before the season started, the club had already lost France goalkeeper Gregory Coupet, who will be out of action for four months after injuring his knee in training.

On top of that, Sweden midfielder Kim Kallstrom, who was red-carded for spitting towards a match official in the Toulouse match, could be banned for several matches.

And as if that was not enough, Brazil striker Fred, currently nursing a foot injury in his home country, has sent a letter to the club threatening to leave if a financial dispute is not resolved.

'There is a meeting scheduled for Tuesday,' Bernard Lacombe, chairman Jean-Michel Aulas's adviser, told reporters about the Fred situation. 'I'm sure we will find an agreement.'

Then there is the case of France forward Sylvain Wiltord, who had been told off by his bosses for showing poor discipline. He has since been talking to other clubs, notably Stade Rennes.

Lyon have until the end of the month, when the transfer window closes, to buy a defender to replace Cris and a goalkeeper to back up Coupet's replacement, Remy Vercoutre.

To boost their flagging morale they must beat Lorient, although that will not be easy.

The Westerners love upsetting big names and are on a high after beating Paris St Germain 3-1 at Parc des Princes on Wednesday.