Tag Archives: attention

David Beckham named by China as a global football ambassador in a bid to revive game

Save us Becks! China name PSG midfielder as a global football ambassador in a bid to revive their faltering domestic game

Olympics last year and Chinese officials expect his popularity and influence to restore the game's credibility in their country.

At a loss: David Beckham came off the bench but couldn't save PSG from a 1-0 defeat by Reims at the weekend

At a loss: David Beckham came off the bench but couldn't save PSG from a 1-0 defeat by Reims at the weekend

Game changer: David Beckham was a second-half substitute as PSG crashed to a shock defeat at Stade Reims

'2013 marks the 20th anniversary of professional football in China and the special ambassadorship of David Beckham will attract global attention to Chinese football and the CSL,' said a spokesman for the CFA.

'While in China, he will attend the CSL and visit clubs to get a deeper insight into football in China.

'He will also help us to inspire and motivate many children to participate in this beautiful game.'

Didier Drogba

Nicolas Anelka

Brief: Former Chelsea forwards Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka both quit early into their spells at Shanghai

VIDEO: Watch match highlights of Reims v PSG here…

Fabio Capello: I want to manage in England again

Capello opens door to England return: 'I miss it, the packed stadiums… and Russia has worse problem with foreign players'

By
Adam Crafton

PUBLISHED:

01:31 GMT, 23 February 2013

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UPDATED:

01:42 GMT, 23 February 2013

Fabio Capello has opened the door to Premier League suitors, declaring his fascination for English football and revealing his difficulties adapting to life as manager of the Russian national team.

Speaking through a translator at a question and answer session at the Cambridge Union, the former England boss revealed his strong passion for English football.

He said: 'The Premier League is absolutely fascinating. I would be available and would be flattered to be linked with jobs in this league.

Longing: Fabio Capello admitted he misses England after taking over as the manager of Russia

Longing: Fabio Capello admitted he misses England after taking over as the manager of Russia

'Both my wife and I enjoyed our time in the UK and what I miss about football in the UK is that the stadiums are packed, whereas the Russian league is often half-empty.

'I am used to the media attention from Italy and Spain, and I can handle the newspapers and press here. It is just part of the job. In Russia, it is great because nobody can read the newspapers!

Although Capello is finding the Russian media easy to deal with, the Italian revealed the frustrations he has found as he tries to get to grips with the Russian language.

He said: 'It is not difficult when we train but it is very hard to pass on my emotions and motivation to the players and I have to rely on the translator.

'Before a match, I show the players videos and show them bullet points to get my point across but the translator even has to write these because the Russian language has a different alphabet. Sometimes, the translator relates the concepts but not with the feeling that I want to convey.'

Defender: Capello consistently backed John Terry despite his off-the-field problems

Defender: Capello consistently backed John Terry despite his off-the-field problems

New horizons: Capello hopes to lead Russia to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

New horizons: Capello hopes to lead Russia to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Along with the language-barrier, the former Real Madrid and AC Milan boss has grown frustrated with the small pool of Russian players that he has to work with, believing the influx of foreign players in the Russian league to be an ailment even more chronic than the same issue facing the English Premier League, while the long travelling is also proving problematic.

He said: 'I used to complain that there are only playing 38 per cent of Premier League players that are English but the situation is even worse in Russia on this issue. To attract players to Russia, a lot of money is needed.

'Moreover, many of the best teams with these huge private benefactors are located at the borders of Russia so it is a lot of travelling for me.'

And the former Three Lions boss couldn't mask his surprise that AC Milan decided to pay 21million to take Mario Balotelli back to Italy.

Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli

All change: Mario Balotelli moved from Manchester City to AC Milan in the January transfer window

He said: 'When I found out that Milan were signing Balotelli, I thought it was crazy! But he has been playing brilliantly since arriving, he has had no problems with the referee and he can make a difference, as he has showed with four goals in three games. He’s great – but it’s impossible to manage Balotelli!

'With these players, like I had with Antonio Cassano myself you have to speak to them to explain exactly what they have to do before the game – but within five minutes they do whatever they want anyway!'

SIX NATIONS 2013: England XV to play France

Tuilagi recalled by Lancaster in one of three changes made by England for Le Crunch

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

10:45 GMT, 21 February 2013

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UPDATED:

12:15 GMT, 21 February 2013

Stuart Lancaster has urged England to vary their attack against France after confirming his team for Saturday’s RBS Six Nations match at Twickenham.

As predicted by Sportsmail this week England’s head coach has decided to make three changes for the third match en route to a possible Grand Slam.

Following the win over Ireland, Lancaster this morning announced he had recalled centre Manu Tuilagi, hooker Dylan Hartley and flanker Courtney Lawes.

Centre of attention: Manu Tuilagi runs with the ball during England training at Pennyhill Park on Tuesday

Centre of attention: Manu Tuilagi runs with the ball during England training at Pennyhill Park on Tuesday

ENGLAND TEAM TO FACE FRANCE:

15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Dylan Hartley, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Joe Launchbury, 5 Geoff Parling, 6 Courtney Lawes, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain).

Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 David Wilson, 19 James Haskell, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Danny Care, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.

All three were substitutes in the win
in Dublin and replace Billy Twelvetrees, Tom Youngs and James Haskell
who are all on the bench this time.

Lancaster is looking to use the
firepower of the trio to tackle a French team who have had endure a
disastrous Six Nations so far in losing to Italy and Wales.

Lancaster explained: ‘We thought long and hard about changing a winning team which did so well against Ireland.

‘But we believe that Dylan, Courtney
and Manu are ready for the opportunity and allow us to vary our play,
while the bench will add impact and energy as the game unfolds in the
second half.

‘The players are really looking
forward to getting back to Twickenham. The atmosphere in the stadium is
fantastic and hopefully the crowd can get behind us in what is sure to
be a great challenge against a motivated and physical French team.’

Meanwhile, France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made eight changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's match.

Making way: Billy Twelvetrees will be on the bench at Twickenham despite his superb show against Scotland

Making way: Billy Twelvetrees will be on the bench at Twickenham despite his superb show against Scotland

FRANCE TEAM TO FACE ENGLAND:

15 Yoann Huget, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Benjamin Fall, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra;
1 Thomas Domingo, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 3 Nicolas Mas, 4 Christophe Samson, 5 Yoann Maestri, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir (captain).

Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski,
17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Luc Ducalcon,
19 Jocelino Suta, 20 Antonie Claassen,
21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Florian Fritz.

Saint-Andre has opted for a new half-back pairing, with Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc replacing Maxime Machenaud and Frederic Michalak following Les Bleus' 16-6 defeat against Wales at the Stade de France 12 days ago.

Vincent Clerc returns on the right wing, with Wesley Fofana switching to his preferred role of centre for the Twickenham encounter.

Saint-Andre's team head to England after losing their opening two Five or Six Nations games for the first time since 1982.

Wales' success in Paris followed a 23-18 loss in Italy six days previously, meaning the wooden spoon has now become a distinct possibility for the pre-tournament favourites.

'After two defeats in the tournament, we wanted competition and freshness in the squad,' Saint-Andre said. 'We have to have the freshness and enthusiasm.

'We will prepare a lot of fight in Twickenham.'

Frank Lampard now set to be offered fresh Chelsea deal in shock U-turn by Roman Abramovich

EXCLUSIVE: Lampard set to be offered fresh Chelsea deal in shock U-turn by Abramovich

By
Neil Ashton

PUBLISHED:

10:28 GMT, 7 February 2013

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UPDATED:

11:39 GMT, 7 February 2013

Roman Abramovich has made a sensational U-turn over the future of Frank Lampard and opened talks over a new contract.

Lampard, who scored the winner for England in last night’s 2-1 victory over Brazil, had been told he could leave Chelsea at the end of the season.

Incredibly, Chelsea made their move for the fans’ favourite last week and talks about him staying are at a preliminary stage.

VIDEO: Scroll down to watch Lampard's stunning winner for England v Brazil

Still got it: Frank Lampard is mobbed after scoring the winner for England against Brazil last night

Still got it: Frank Lampard is mobbed after scoring the winner for England against Brazil last night

Net gains: Lampard fires past Brazil's goalkeeper Julio Cesar to hand England victory at Wembley

Net gains: Lampard fires past Brazil's goalkeeper Julio Cesar to hand England victory at Wembley

Sources at Stamford Bridge insisted this morning that the talks were ‘positive’ and the club will formalise the fresh talks with a firm offer.

The precise terms of the new deal for Lampard, 34, have yet to be discussed, but the initial meeting with Chelsea has taken place.

Abramovich, who is in Malaga on business, is aware of the fans’ protests against the decision to release the midfielder after 12 years at the club.

Lampard has scored 10 goals in just 17 Barclays Premier League appearances this season after recovering from injury.

Centre of attention: All eyes have been on Lampard's next move as his Chelsea deal winds down

Centre of attention: All eyes have been on Lampard's next move as his Chelsea deal winds down

Goal king: Lampard is on a golden run of goals despite Chelsea's difficult season

Goal king: Lampard is on a golden run of goals despite Chelsea's difficult season

He is now second in the list of all-time leading scorers at the club and is just five goals from equalling Bobby Tambling’s record of 202 in a Chelsea shirt.

The midfielder has been one of the club's most consistent players this season and supporters have begged Abramovich to give him a new deal.

Chelsea’s owners is becoming increasingly sensitive about his popularity at the Bridge and is determined to put his club back at the top of European football.

That process began when he changed his mind about Ashley Cole and gave England’s left back a new one year extension to his contract.

Lampard is next in line and talks are expected to resume within the next week after Chelsea made their shock move to keep him. A Chelsea spokesman declined to comment this morning.

Green light: Roman Abramovich has now given the thumbs up to a new deal for Lampard

Green light: Roman Abramovich has now given the thumbs up to a new deal for Lampard

Although Lampard has consistently told Blues supporters he wants to stay in various interviews, the midfielder believed his career at Stamford Bridge would be over in the summer.

Lampard’s future is time sensitive because he already has a number of offers from other clubs around the world.

Paris Saint-Germain, coached by former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, are the latest club to put down a marker for the midfielder.

LA Galaxy, who have offered Lampard a two-and-a-half year deal, are pushing for an answer. The MLS season starts in March, but the player will have commitments with Chelsea until the end of the season and also with England.

Roy Hodgson’s side play a friendly against the Republic of Ireland on May 29 and then travel to Brazil on June 2.

Australian Open 2013: Li Na beat Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-3

No problems for Li as she ends Radwanska's winning run to secure semi-final spot

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

02:24 GMT, 22 January 2013

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UPDATED:

03:03 GMT, 22 January 2013

Li Na made it through to her third Australian Open semi-final today after halting Agnieszka Radwanska's blistering start to 2013.

Radwanska came into the match having won 13 straight matches, a run which included title wins in Auckland and Sydney, but she had no answer to Li's all-or-nothing game.

The Chinese won 7-5 6-3 despite making 40 unforced errors to advance to a last-four clash with either Maria Sharapova or Ekaterina Makarova.

Into the semis: China's Li Na celebrates after defeating Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in their quarter-final

Into the semis: China's Li Na celebrates after defeating Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in their quarter-final

Centre of attention: Radwanska and Li play out their quarter-final match on the Rod Laver Arena

Centre of attention: Radwanska and Li play out their quarter-final match on the Rod Laver Arena

End of the road: Agnieszka Radwanska could not continue her winning run at the start of 2013

End of the road: Agnieszka Radwanska could not continue her winning run at the start of 2013

In a game of contrasting styles, Radwanska started well with her consistency gaining her the upper hand.

She made Li come through a 12-minute opening game to hold but serving was to prove a disadvantage as there were four consecutive breaks before Li finally stood firm to lead 4-3.

Radwanska edged ahead once more after winning a 26-point rally on break point to move 5-4 up.
She could not consolidate it though as Li promptly hit before claiming a 6-5 lead.

Determined: Li returns a shot to Radwanska during her win over the Pole

Determined: Li returns a shot to Radwanska during her win over the Pole

Li Na

Agnieszka Radwanska

Mixed emotions: Li celebrates as Radwanska looks dejected

Not enough: Radwanska lost in straight sets as she could find no answers to Li

Not enough: Radwanska lost in straight sets as she could find no answers to Li

And the sixth seed, the runner-up here two years ago, took the opening set after the best point of the match, both players moving their opponent around the court before Radwanska was pushed into a corner and failed to return a Li smash.

Radwanska, who has now failed to get past the last eight in Melbourne having reached this stage four times, looked like she was mounting a comeback when she established a 2-0 lead in the second.
But Li simply ramped up her game, going for even more from the baseline.

Respect: Li and Radwanska shake hands after the match

Respect: Li and Radwanska shake hands after the match

And having it got back on serve, she seized the initiative further by going on a nine-point run which helped her to take a 5-2 lead – despite one serve bizarrely flying over Radwanska's head on the full and straight into the stand.

Radwanska held to make Li serve it out and, despite a few wobbles, she came through in one hour and 42 minutes.

MS Dhoni gives India an injury scare ahead of third ODI against England

Dhoni gives India a scare after being hit on thumb ahead of his homecoming ODI in Ranchi

By
Paul Newman

PUBLISHED:

20:40 GMT, 17 January 2013

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UPDATED:

08:19 GMT, 18 January 2013

MS Dhoni gave his fanatical home city of Ranchi a scare yesterday after being hit on the thumb in the nets.

The India captain, a god-like figure here, was seen with an ice-pack over his hand after the incident, giving rise to fears he could miss the pivotal third one-day international tomorrow.

However, it transpired that he did not need an X-ray and should be fit to lead India.

Thumbs up: Dhoni (right) was hit on the hand in the nets but will play tomorrow

Thumbs up: Dhoni (right) was hit on the hand in the nets but will play tomorrow

That is a good thing for this city, because rarely can any match have been more
about one person. This is the MS Dhoni ODI and it seems as though every
one of the million-plus people who live in his home city want to be at
the brand new 40,000-capacity JSCA International Stadium.

The India captain welcomed the all of his team to the house he has had built here for a reception on Wednesday but now England, who were not invited, have to try to gatecrash the festivities.

When asked if a victory would feel like raining on Dhoni’s parade, England assistant coach Richard Halsall said: ‘It’s his home town, but our players are cold and clinical enough not to think about that.’

The centre of attention: MS Dhoni takes on England in his home town of Ranchi with India looking to take a series lead

The centre of attention: MS Dhoni takes on England in his home town of Ranchi with India looking to take a series lead

It is to Dhoni’s credit that he had a house built in this far from glamorous part of north-eastern India, particularly as the building was attacked by a mob during construction in 2007 simply because he got out for a duck in the World Cup against Bangladesh.

If England are going to take a 2-1 lead, they know the best way is to silence the crowd by quickly dismissing the game’s most destructive ODI batsman.

‘If you bowl at Dhoni’s stumps the ball goes significant distances,’ said Halsall.

Big hitter: Dhoni is a dangerman

Big hitter: Dhoni is a dangerman

‘But when you bowl really well at him, as we did in the powerplay the other night, he has to change his tactics. That wasn’t the usual MS Dhoni during those five overs. He did things we wanted him to do and that’s what we must get him to do again.’

Halsall was succinct in assessing where England had gone wrong in the Kochi crash.

‘We had two very bad patches, in the last 10 overs of their innings and from the 10th to the 15th of ours, and you don’t win ODIs if you go for more than a hundred in the last 10 and lose three of your top five in six overs.’

And there was a defence of Craig Kieswetter, who looked unable to work the gaps during England’s innings.

‘Craig needed to suck up the pressure when we were 70 for four. He held his nerve when people were saying, “We’ve only scored three runs in four overs”. The disappointing thing was he (then) got out.

‘People have short memories. A couple of games ago he and Samit Patel put us in a position to win that first match.’

It is the other keeper who will occupy England’s thoughts.

Lance Armstrong "did not come clean in the manner I had expected", reveals Oprah Winfrey

Armstrong 'did not come clean in the manner I had expected', reveals Oprah

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

13:42 GMT, 15 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:43 GMT, 15 January 2013

Lance Armstrong admitted admitted using performance-enhancing drugs in a TV interview to
be shown on Thursday.

The disgraced cyclist is said to have
confessed in an interview with American TV chat show queen Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah tweeted: ‘I would say (Lance Armstrong) did not come clean in the manner I had expected. It was surprising to me.’

Banned: Disgraced cyclist Armstrong conducted his first interview since being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles with Oprah Winfrey

Banned: Disgraced cyclist Armstrong conducted his first interview since being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles with Oprah Winfrey

The revelation came after Armstrong visited the staff of his charity the Livestrong Foundation at the Texas offices to apologise for putting their work at risk.

Several employees cried when he told them: ‘I’m sorry.’

'He had a private conversation with the staff, who have done the important work of the foundation for many years,' Livestrong Foundation spokeswoman Katherine McLane was quoted as saying by Reuters.

'It was a very sincere and heartfelt expression of regret over any stress that they've suffered over the course of the last few years as a result of the media attention,' she added.

He promised he would try to restore the foundation’s reputation – before meeting his legal team to prepare for the Oprah interview.

Armstrong reportedly spoke to a room
full of about 100 staff members for about 20 minutes, expressing regret
for everything the controversy has put them through.

He told them how much the foundation
means to him and that he considers the people who work there to be like
members of his family. None of the people in the room challenged
Armstrong over his long denials of doping.

Banned: Disgraced cyclist Armstrong conducted his first interview since being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles with Oprah Winfrey

After the interview, Winfrey tweeted: 'Just wrapped with @lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!'

Winfrey
and her crew planned on filming Monday's session at Armstrong's home.
As a result, local and international news crews were camped near the
cyclist's Spanish-style villa before dawn.

Armstrong
still managed to slip away for a run despite the crowds outside his
home. He returned by cutting through a neighbour's yard and hopping a
fence.

Meanwhile, the government of South Australia state said it will seek damages or compensation from Lance Armstrong after his reported confession to Winfrey that he doped during his career.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said the state would seek the repayment of several million dollars in appearance fees paid to Armstrong for competing in the Tour Down Under cycle race in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Weatherill said reports Armstrong admitted doping during a recorded interview with Winfrey changed the government's view on its entitlement to compensation.

He said Armstrong 'has deceived the cycling community around the world' by repeatedly denying he used performance-enhancing drugs during a career in which he won the Tour de France seven times.

'We'd be more than happy for Mr. Armstrong to make any repayment of monies to us,' Weatherill said.

Shamed: Armstrong has been stripped of his seven tour titles

Shamed: Armstrong has been stripped of his seven tour titles

Weatherill refused to say how much the
South Australian state government paid to Armstrong to secure his
participation in the ProTour race for three-straight years.

Armstrong chose the Australian cycle tour, the first event of the annual ProTour, to make his return to professional cycling in 2009 after a two-year retirement. He also made the six-stage road race his last professional race before his final retirement in 2011.

The South Australian government paid appearance fees to Armstrong to build the profile of the race and promote tourism. That effort was hugely successful and in each of the years Armstrong competed, hundreds of thousands watched the race live and millions more saw it on television.

Armstrong has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and for a decade he strenuously denied doping and resorted to lawsuits to protect his reputation.

The publication of a damning 1,000-page report by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which placed Armstrong at the center of what it called one of the most sophisticated doping operations in sports, has led to counter-suits against the rider.

Those who had been successfully sued by Armstrong, including Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, are now seeking repayment of the damages they were forced to pay. Others are seeking repayment of sponsorships and prize money paid during Armstrong's career as the world's most famous professional cyclist.

Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson have red cards overturned

The ref was wrong… TWICE! Cole and Gibson have harsh red cards from Taylor overturned on appeal by FA

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UPDATED:

15:39 GMT, 27 December 2012

Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson will be available for their clubs this weekend after both today had red cards rescinded by the FA.

Each player had been sent off by Anthony Taylor in similar circumstances during Everton’s victory at Upton Park last Saturday but David Moyes and Sam Allardyce were instantly united in the opinion that the decisions were wrong.

It is believed to be the first time in English history that a referee has had two of his red cards from the same game wiped out.

Taylor is now set to return in Sunday's live TV match between QPR and Liverpool.

Harsh: Carlton Cole was sent off for raising his boot in a challenge

Harsh: Carlton Cole was sent off for raising his boot in a challenge

Cole and Gibson faced the prospect of
each missing three matches after being dismissed for violent conduct for
high challenges against Leighton Baines and Mark Noble respectively.

But West Ham and Everton will breathe a
huge sigh of relief after the FA ruled in favour of the players and
judged Taylor, who was absent from Premier League Boxing Day fixtures,
to have acted incorrectly.

Lunge: Darron Gibson was then dismissed for a similar offence

Lunge: Darron Gibson was then dismissed for a similar offence

Cole, who has been in superb form for
West Ham in the absence of injured Andy Carroll, will now travel with
the squad to Reading on Saturday, while Gibson, who is key to Everton’s
midfield, will be free to play at home to Chelsea on Sunday.

Cole scored the opener against Everton
but was then red carded with the scores at 1-1. Allardyce felt the
dismissal changed the game as the hosts lost 2-1. Gibson was sent off in
injury time for a near identical foul.

Blame game: Referee Anthony Taylor was the centre of attention after his decisions which were criticised by both managers

Blame game: Referee Anthony Taylor was the centre of attention after his decisions which were criticised by both managers

Moyes said after the match: ‘I didn't
think either were red cards and we'll appeal. I'll have a word with Sam
about appealing as well. I thought it was a case of two players honestly
going for the ball.’

Allardyce added: ‘It had a massive
effect but we will appeal immediately. In Carlton's case you are looking
at a player who has put his foot up and you say “Has he meant to do it
Has he done it on purpose” I didn't think Gibson's was a red card
either.’

An FA Statement read: 'The FA can confirm that red cards shown to both Carlton Cole and Darron Gibson have been rescinded.

'Their three match suspensions have been withdrawn immediately and written reasons will be provided at a later date.'

Disgusted: Sam Allardyce and David Moyes were appalled by the decisions

Disgusted: Sam Allardyce and David Moyes were appalled by the decisions

Allardyce welcomed the decision and said justice had been done.
'I am delighted that we have probably got a bit of justice as it deserved to be turned around,' he said.

'There was never any doubt in my mind. While you can say the foot was high, it was a genuine attempt and Carlton kept his eye on the ball. It's a really good outcome for us.

'The way he is playing at the moment, he would have been a massive loss for us. He's been outstandnig up front for us since Andy Carroll got injured and we didn't want to miss a player of so much importance for these three very important games – Reading away, Norwich City at home and a big FA Cup third-round tie with Manchester United.

'To have him back and available is a big boost for us.'

Neymar latest: Manchester City chief flies to Sao Paulo to discuss transfer

Man City chief flies to Brazil to discuss move for Santos star Neymar

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UPDATED:

10:37 GMT, 23 December 2012

Manchester City are determined to sign Neymar before the end of the season.

City sporting director Txiki Begiristain flew to Sao Paulo last week to discuss prising the 20-year old from his club, Santos, despite pressures on him to remain in Brazil until after the 2014 World Cup.

Santos chiefs are relenting, however, and Begiristain believed travelling to South America would help to reinforce City’s desire for Neymar, who is valued at around 32 million.

Target: Neymar (centre) is the centre of attention for many of Europe's elite

Target: Neymar (centre) is the centre of attention for many of Europe's elite

The interest also raises questions over Mario Balotelli’s future with the Premier League champions; whether he will be sold to make room for the Brazilian.

City will have a fight on their hands with Barcelona, who are also keen on the youngster, should Santos finally be talked into selling.

Moreover, both Chelsea and Real Madrid have previously thought they had Neymar in their clutches, only for the arrangements to fall through and the deal never to materialise.

City are certainly in the market for a new striker, ideally before the end of January to boost their title-retaining campaign.

Manager Roberto Mancini recently visited Spain in the hope of landing Radamel Falcao, but it’s Chelsea who are thought to have accelerated negotiations for the Atletico Madrid forward.

Rather than depending on their starry cast of foreign talent yesterday, however, City were saved by Gareth Barry who scored in the 92nd minute against Reading at the Ethiad Stadium.

Aiming high: Roberto Mancini would love to add the striker to his squad

Aiming high: Roberto Mancini would love to add the striker to his squad

Balotelli had been dropped from the squad and did not attend the game, but Mancini was far from concerned about his striker having been photographed driving around Manchester in his uniquely decorated Bentley.

'He was meant to be having a day off,' Mancini said.

'He couldn’t train so he couldn’t play. But I can’t lock him in his house.'

London named host city for 2017 IPC Athletics World Championships

London Calling: City's delight to welcome back world-class Paralympians in 2017

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UPDATED:

18:35 GMT, 19 December 2012

London will hope to replicate the summer of 2012 at the Olympic Stadium in five years after being named the host city for the 2017 IPC Athletics World Championships.

Just one month before the IAAF World Championships, the best paralympians in the world will take to the track and field in Stratford, as, for the first time, one city hosts the two championships side-by-side.

The bid was successful after Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, pointed to the success of the London 2012 Games, while the International Paralympic Committee hope the enthusiasm which greeted the Paralympics in August and September will be emulated in four-and-a-half years' time.

Great Britain's Jonnie Peacock celebrates

GB star: Jonnie Peacock will look to repeat his recent heroics at London 2017

Xavier Gonzalez, chief executive of the IPC, who organise the event, said: “The London 2012 Paralympic Games were some of the best we've ever seen, and we cannot wait to see Great Britain embrace the Paralympic movement once again with open arms.

“The bar has been set high for the 2017 IPC Athletics World Championships, and we are eager to see the worldwide media attention they attract.”

Hannah Cockroft at the 2012 games

Winner: Fans could see Hannah Cockroft return to the track at the Olympic Stadium

Johnson, who is chairman of the London Legacy Development Corporation and submitted a formal bid for the event last month, said: “This year London just staged the best spectacle of sport the world has seen.

“.

“London's Paralympic Games were the first ever to sell out and these championships provide a perfect chance to build on that enthusiasm for disabled sport, bringing back the world's greatest Paralympians to the Olympic Stadium, and at the same time providing a major economic boost to the capital.”

Jason Smyth of Ireland celebrates winning the men's 100m T13 classification final

Irish light: Jason Smyth of Ireland will be just one of world-class paralympians back in London in five years

IPC President Sir Philip Craven hailed London 2012 as the “best Games” in history with 1,134 athletes taking part in track and field events, setting 102 world and 139 Paralympic records.

The athletics events were particularly well received as British wheelchair racers David Weir and Hannah Cockroft, amputee sprinters Jonnie Peacock and Richard Whitehead and others became household names in front of sold-out crowds of 80,000 for every session.

The IPC Athletics World Championships are the largest single-sport competition for athletes with an impairment in the world and take place on a bi-annual basis.

Paralympic closing ceremony

Spectacular: Fireworks light up the stadium during the closing ceremony and spectators can expect similar pyrotechnics in 2017

Ed Warner, IPC Athletics Sport Technical Committee chairperson and chair of UK Athletics, said: “The UK's capital city has already demonstrated its ability to provide an excellent experience for athletes and spectators alike.

“London 2017 will bring record crowds for an IPC World Championships, creating an ideal backdrop for athletes to break records, further raising the profile of sport for people with an impairment in the process.”

David Weir wins gold

Gold: David Weir was the hero of the 2012 games and fans will be hoping to see similar British triumph in 2017

Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira and Oscar Pistorius

Rivals: Alan Oliveira (L) and Oscar Pistorius (R) will look to renew rivalry at London 2017.