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LOSC counting on Pépé with Amiens up next

Publish on 16/01/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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LOSC president Gérard Lopez insists free-scoring Nicolas Pépé will be with the club "until the end of the season" with Les Dogues looking to tighten their grip on second place against Amiens FC on Friday.

 LOSC - Amiens SC 

The northerners are Paris Saint-Germain's closest pursuers, albeit with 13 points to make up on the champions. Last Friday's 3-1 win over SM Caen did at least give Christophe Galtier's men a provisional four-point cushion on third-place Olympique Lyonnais.

Pépé, who opened the scoring at the Stade Michel d'Ornano with his 13th goal of this Ligue 1 Conforama campaign, has been attracting admiring glances from clubs across Europe, but Lopez say the Côte d'Ivoire forward is going nowhere soon.

'Nicolas will stay'

"Yes, Nicolas Pépé will stay with LOSC until the end of the season," was his swift response when questioned about the 23-year-old's future on Wednesday, not that the president is worried about one day having to replace his star player.

"We have 19 scouts scouring every market," he said. "This frees a coach from having to know who will replace so and so. [Sporting director] Luis Campos told me about this right-back in the Turkish second division last summer, and when you see what Zeki Celik is doing now…"

Celik has indeed impressed since his summer transfer from Istanbulspor, with six clean sheets and four assists from his 20 games to date. The recent Turkey international was sent off late on against Caen, but his suspension will not kick in before Friday.

Portuguese pair missing

Galtier is without Portuguese pair Xeka and Rui Fonte, however. The former has a thigh strain, the latter a calf injury, so Thiagos Mendes and Maia are likely to continue at the base of LOSC's midfield.

Amiens are 17th coming into this Week 21 clash, just a single point better off than Dijon FCO, who occupy the relegation play-off place.

Few were surprised when they lost 3-0 to PSG last Saturday, but Galtier's opposite number Christophe Pélissier thought his side could have got more from the game.

Stars aligning?

"We have some regrets," he said. "The stars have to align against a team like that. We played ok for an hour but unfortunately things went against us. We worked very hard and never gave up."

Last season's top scorer Moussa Konaté is expected back by the end of the month following an adductor injury. Cheick Timité has been impressing in his absence, though, even if he is yet to open his Amiens account.

"It's not necessarily on a striker to score at all costs," explained the club captain, Prince Gouano. "Moussa is back working with the group but in the meantime, Cheick has been showing beautiful things. We've got two very good attackers."

 

Possible line-ups

LOSC: Maignan; Celik, J. Fonte, Soumaoro, Koné; Mendes, Maia; Pépé, Koné, Bamba; Leao

Amiens: Gurtner; Krafth, Gouano, Adenon, Dibassy; Monconduit, Blin; Mendoza, Gnahoré, Lefort; Timité