Tag Archives: breaking

Aaron Ramsey: It"s taken three years to get over Ryan Shawcross tackle

Ramsey: It's taken me three years to get over THAT tackle by Shawcross

By
Rob Draper

PUBLISHED:

21:38 GMT, 16 February 2013

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UPDATED:

03:41 GMT, 17 February 2013

It will soon be three years since Aaron Ramsey was on the receiving end of that tackle from Stoke's Ryan Shawcross, a challenge that broke his leg in a manner which caused onlookers to wince and look away in disgust.

Three long years as far as Ramsey is concerned.

Breaking point: Ramsey tumbles in agony after Shawcross's challenge

Breaking point: Ramsey tumbles in agony after Shawcross's challenge

The unwanted anniversary comes at the
end of this month and although Ramsey was back playing by November
2010, it would be fair to say the injury and the vehemence of the tackle
had a greater effect on the 23-year-old than a mere nine-month absence.

He was on course to be a worldclass
player, his trajectory well ahead of compatriot Gareth Bale, and he
looked to be a potential replacement for Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal.

His comeback season was largely
spent on loan at Nottingham Forest and Cardiff. Last term he recovered
his identity as an Arsenal player.

Only this season has he shown the form that saw him lauded so early in his career.

'It was a really tough thing to go through and I don't wish it upon anybody,' said Ramsey.

'The determination and the
professionalism that you need, all the hours you have to spend in the
gym, it's quite tough. But I've got through that. It's taken me a bit
longer than I would've liked, but I'm happy now where I am, and hoping
to improve and carry on this good form that I'm in.'

His confidence was fractured as well as his leg.

Confidence soaring: Aaron Ramsey's (left) back in form for Arsenal

Confidence soaring: Aaron Ramsey's (left) back in form for Arsenal

'Yes, that's a natural thing,' he
said. 'Confidence is a massive thing and if you're struggling with that
it does reflect in your performances. But I've got that back now. I'm
hungry to keep that shirt and I've proved that with the way I've been
playing of late.

'There has been a good progression
and hopefully I can get back to where I was. That injury did take it out
of me and hopefully that will only have been a minor hiccup when I look
back on my career.'

Bayern Munich in the Champions League will this week provide an acid test, particular after yesterday's exit from the FA Cup.

Ramsey has to establish himself as a guaranteed pick, though 16 starts this season represents progress.

'I'm getting stuck in a lot more,' he
said. 'I'm winning a lot more balls back and reading the game better
and moving the ball quicker, which suit's the way we play. I've had
positive feedback from the boss.'

But he is aware of Arsenal's
eightyear trophy drought – the Champions League represents their last
chance of silverware this season – and of lost opportunities in Europe's
premier competition.

A 4-0 defeat by AC Milan cost them last year despite winning the home leg 3-0.

Before that they could not hold a 2-1 home-leg lead over Barcelona.

He said: 'Hopefully, we can get into a strong position against Bayern in the home leg and we'll be more experienced.'

Leicester 6 Huddersfield 1 – match report

Leicester 6 Huddersfield 1: New boy Wood bags brace as sorry Terriers are hit for six

PUBLISHED:

18:01 GMT, 1 January 2013

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UPDATED:

07:25 GMT, 2 January 2013

Chris Wood marked his Leicester debut with two goals as the Foxes emphatically brushed aside struggling Huddersfield to maintain their place in the npower Championship play-off positions.

The New Zealand international, who netted 11 times on loan at Millwall before he was recalled by West Brom, completed his switch to the King Power Stadium this morning and needed just six minutes to open his Leicester account.

Wood formed an excellent understanding with the dangerous David Nugent and added his second midway through the first half before Ritchie De Laet's first Foxes goal capped off an outstanding 45 minutes.

Things got better for Leicester after the break as Anthony Knockaert bagged a quickfire brace and, after Scott Arfield netted a consolation, Martyn Waghorn converted late on to help City secure their second successive victory.

Impact: Wood scored twice on his Leicester debut

Impact: Wood scored twice on his Leicester debut

MATCH FACTS

Leicester: Schmeichel, Keane, Konchesky, Morgan, De Laet, Marshall (Dyer 66), Drinkwater, James, Knockaert (Gallagher 74), Nugent (Waghorn 57), Wood.

Subs Not Used: Logan, King, Moore, Futacs.

Goals: Wood 6, 24, De Laet 45, Knockaert 49, 51, Waghorn 76.

Huddersfield: Smithies (Bennett 46), Wallace, Lynch (Dixon 55), Gerrard, Hammill, Hunt, Arfield, Southern, Clayton (Norwood 81), Novak, Vaughan.

Subs Not Used: Peter Clarke, Scannell, Robinson, Atkinson.

Booked: Lynch.

Goals: Arfield 60.

Att: 25,913

Ref: Mark Haywood

Click here for all the latest Championship table, fixtures and results

The Terriers' struggles continued and they have now gone 10 games without a win.

In a frantic opening, Town midfielder
Adam Clayton had to hack the ball off the line to prevent Knockaert
from breaking the deadlock, while James Vaughan – replacing Jermaine
Beckford who is ineligible to play against his parent club, fired over
from a tight angle.

The Foxes opened the scoring thanks
to Wood, who rose highest to nod in from close range after Alex Smithies
had brilliantly kept out Nugent's header from Knockaert's cross.

Nugent then burst into the box and unleashed a shot that Smithies saved
before the former England striker headed Paul Konchesky's cross wide.

The hosts' front two continued to cause havoc for the Terriers defence
and they were both involved in the second goal after 24 minutes. Wood
linked up superbly with the impressive Nugent and fired a low shot that
flew in off the post.

Wood wasted a chance to complete his treble, heading wide from 12 yards nine minutes before the interval.

Leicester went in at half-time 3-0 ahead. Knockaert picked up the ball
35 yards out and after teasing the Town defence, fed full-back De Laet
who fired past Smithies.

City started the second half where they left off in the first as Knockaert scored twice in three minutes.

Rout: Knockaert scored two goals in three minutes during the thumping win

Rout: Knockaert scored two goals in three minutes during the thumping win

The Frenchman swept home the overlapping Konchesky's cut back from 12
yards and then after fooling the visiting defence with some eye-catching
trickery, he darted through two players and curled a shot past Ian
Bennett, replacing the injured Smithies at half-time.

Huddersfield got on the scoresheet in the 59th minute thanks to Arfield,
who converted after Kasper Schmeichel had parried his initial shot.

That sparked the visitors into life, with Arfield heading over and
Schmeichel denying Lee Novak a goal on his 100th start for Huddersfield.

Arfield and Clayton combined to set up Adam Hammill and the on-loan Wolves winger fired a 25-yard shot wide.

Despite the pressure, Leicester grabbed a sixth 15 minutes from time
when Waghorn, a replacement for Nugent, volleyed home after Wood nodded
Konchesky's delivery back across goal.

Sunderland fans walk out in protest over season ticket holder suspended for standing

Sunderland fans walk out in protest over season ticket holder suspended for standing

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UPDATED:

14:13 GMT, 29 December 2012

Sunderland fans have staged a revolt against their own club, after a season card holder was suspended on Boxing Day for standing.

Large numbers of fans in the Stadium of Light resisted warnings from stewards during the game against Tottenham Hotspur, and continued to stand.

One group of supporters chose to walk out of the ground completely, missing John O’Shea’s goal late in the first half.

Making a stand: Sunderland stewards tell fans to sit down at the Stadium of Light during the game against Tottenham

Making a stand: Sunderland stewards tell fans to sit down at the Stadium of Light during the game against Tottenham

Club chiefs have threatened to eject and suspend season card holders if they continue to defy stewarding staff.

One seat was secured on Wednesday, with a notice reading: ‘This season card has been suspended due to persistent standing.’

Warning sign: Sunderland posted an eviction notice on one supporter's seat before their win over Manchester City on Boxing Day

Warning sign: Sunderland posted an eviction notice on one supporter's seat before their win over Manchester City on Boxing Day

Stern words, published on the club’s website said standing fans are breaking the law, outlining its responsibility to protect the safety and the view of other crowd members.

It added to confirm ‘an increasing number of complaints’ received, particularly from fans in the South Stand, and that 38 fans had been ejected to date, compared to 20 last season.

Stepping up: The fans who walked out early missed captain John O'Shea's first goal for the club

Stepping up: The fans who walked out early missed captain John O'Shea's first goal for the club

Wes Hoolahan praised by Chris Hughton in Norwich win

Hoolahan earns praise from Hughton as Martinez bemoans 'self-inflicted' defeat

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UPDATED:

19:03 GMT, 15 December 2012

Norwich manager Chris Hughton hailed the contribution of Wes Hoolahan after the Republic of Ireland playmaker celebrated signing a new contract with the winning goal in their 2-1 Barclays Premier League victory over Wigan at Carrow Road.

The Canaries, knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Aston Villa here in midweek, made it five successive home league victories to continue their remarkable run of 10 Premier League matches unbeaten.

Heads up: Wes Hoolahan nods home Norwich's second goal to put his side in the lead

Heads up: Wes Hoolahan nods home Norwich's second goal to put his side in the lead

Good start: Anthony Pilkington celebrates after breaking the deadlock in the first half

Good start: Anthony Pilkington celebrates after breaking the deadlock in the first half

Match facts

Norwich: Bunn, Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington (E Bennett 90), Hoolahan (Howson 84), Holt (Morison 90).

Subs not used: Rudd, Martin, Howson, Jackson, Morison, E Bennett, Barnett.

Booked: Bassong, Johnson, Pilkington.

Goals: Pilkington 15, Hoolahan 64.

Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Lopez, Figueroa, Stam, McArthur, McCarthy (Jones 46), Beausejour, Kone, Gomez (Maloney 46), Boselli (Di Santo 72).

Subs not used: Pollitt, Jones, Di Santo, Maloney, McManaman, Fyvie, Golobart.

Booked: Lopez.

Goal: Maloney 51.

Att: 26,677.

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

The latest Premier League table, fixtures and results

Anthony Pilkington set the home side
on their way with a well-taken effort after 15 minutes, only for Wigan
substitute Shaun Maloney to level at the start of the second half.

However, Hoolahan, who has agreed an
extension to stay at the Norfolk club until 2015, arrived on queue after
64 minutes to head past Ali Al Habsi.

'Fortunately for us Wes has signed a new deal and he has earned it, and not just for this season,' said Hughton.

'He was excellent today and to see Wes get a headed goal was worth the entrance fee alone.

'Wes capped off a really good all-round team performance.'

Norwich should have put the game
beyond the visitors, who were again hampered by injuries, but were
thwarted by a string of fine saves from the Latics stopper.

Hughton said: 'We should really have been more than the one up at half-time and when they scored, then there was a concern.

'We made a bit of hard work for ourselves, but I thought over the 90 minutes we thoroughly deserved it.'

Back on track: Wigan celebrate after Shaun Maloney (second right) scored their equaliser

Back on track: Wigan celebrate after Shaun Maloney (second right) scored their equaliser

Take that: Goalkeeper Mark Bunn roars with delight as Norwich regain the lead

Take that: Goalkeeper Mark Bunn roars with delight as Norwich regain the lead

Norwich's remarkable run – they have
not lost in the Premier League since defeat at Chelsea on October 6 –
has seen them climb up to seventh in the table.

Hughton, though, maintained it was
all about keeping a safe distance from any relegation dogfight, with a
trip to West Brom next weekend before Chelsea and Manchester City head
to Norfolk over the hectic festive schedule.

Hitman: Holt fires a shot towards goal, with Norwich on top of their opponents

Hitman: Holt fires a shot towards goal, with Norwich on top of their opponents

Drive: Alexander Tettey launches a strike at Ali Al-Habsi's goal

Drive: Alexander Tettey launches a strike at Ali Al-Habsi's goal

'It is not being negative, but for a
club like ourselves, it is about keeping as big as gap as you can
between us and down,' said Hughton.

'There is no shame in saying that, it is a reality for clubs like ourselves.

'But our form at the moment has deserved it.

'We are a team which has to work very hard for the points we get, so there will be no getting carried away.'

Wigan, meanwhile, have now lost five of the last seven and remain in the bottom three.

The Latics job was not made any
easier following an ankle injury to midfielder James McCarthy, who was
replaced at half-time following a crunching tackle by Bradley Johnson.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez hit out at the Canaries midfielder.

'It was a nasty challenge, one incident off the ball,' the Spaniard said.

Tussle: Jean Beausejour (right) and Norwich City's Robert Snodgrass battle for the ball

Tussle: Jean Beausejour (right) and Norwich City's Robert Snodgrass battle for the ball

Go for it: Roberto Martinez urged his players on as they struggled

Go for it: Roberto Martinez urged his players on as they struggled

'The referee has seen it and has given Johnson a yellow card.

'It is one of those actions you don't
want to see. James McCarthy has been in good form, and they took him
out of the game, which is very disappointing.'

Martinez added: 'It is his ankle
ligaments, we will X-ray it and get the results from the scans very
shortly, but I doubt if he will be available for the next 10 days.'

Wigan have several key men missing
through injury, notably in defence, and Martinez felt his team had
simply failed to get themselves a foothold in the match.

Chris Hughton

Hoolahan

Good day: Chris Hughton (left) saw his side emerge triumphant with Hoolahan (right) in fine fettle

Hands on hips: Grant Holt watches on as ref Lee Probert blows his whistle

Hands on hips: Grant Holt watches on as ref Lee Probert blows his whistle

'Our start was sluggish and
pedestrian, we were very, very, very poor and had our goalkeeper to
thank for keeping us in the game,' he said.

'The second half was very different, we started to control the game and Norwich had to start to defend.

'We scored a beautiful goal and were
starting to build positive momentum, so our disappointment is the
smallest man on the pitch gets a free header in the six-yard box.

'I felt with our second-half performance we merited something out of the game, but it was a self-inflicted defeat.'

Norwich 2 Wigan 1 match report: Wes Hoolahan grabs winner

Norwich 2 Wigan 1: Head boy Hoolahan celebrates new deal with superb winner

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UPDATED:

17:11 GMT, 15 December 2012

Wes Hoolahan celebrated signing a new long-term Norwich contract by scoring the winner against Wigan at Carrow Road.

The victory saw Norwich extend their unbeaten run in the Barclays Premier League to 10 games

Although they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Aston Villa here in midweek, they made it five successive home league victories to continue their remarkable turnaround.

Heads up: Wes Hoolahan nods home Norwich's second goal to put his side in the lead

Heads up: Wes Hoolahan nods home Norwich's second goal to put his side in the lead

Good start: Anthony Pilkington celebrates after breaking the deadlock in the first half

Good start: Anthony Pilkington celebrates after breaking the deadlock in the first half

Match facts

Norwich: Bunn, Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Garrido, Snodgrass, Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington (E Bennett 90), Hoolahan (Howson 84), Holt (Morison 90).

Subs not used: Rudd, Martin, Howson, Jackson, Morison, E Bennett, Barnett.

Booked: Bassong, Johnson, Pilkington.

Goals: Pilkington 15, Hoolahan 64.

Wigan: Al Habsi, Boyce, Lopez, Figueroa, Stam, McArthur, McCarthy (Jones 46), Beausejour, Kone, Gomez (Maloney 46), Boselli (Di Santo 72).

Subs not used: Pollitt, Jones, Di Santo, Maloney, McManaman, Fyvie, Golobart.

Booked: Lopez.

Goal: Maloney 51.

Att: 26,677.

Ref: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

The latest Premier League table, fixtures and results

Wigan, meanwhile, have now lost five
of the last seven and remain in the bottom three despite equalising at
the start of the second half through substitute Shaun Maloney, after
Anthony Pilkington had opened the scoring.

There was not much to choose between
the sides during the opening stages, before Norway midfielder Alex
Tettey, back from a thigh problem, tried his luck from 25 yards with a
low effort which flew wide.

The Canaries were ahead on 15 minutes.

Hoolahan, whose new contract take him
up to 2015, carried the ball to the edge of the Wigan penalty area and
then won a 50/50 with Emmerson Boyce to stab a pass through to
Pilkington.

The winger took the ball in his stride
before smashing a left-foot drive past Latics keeper Ali Al Habsi and
into the roof of the net.

Wigan looked for a quick response, but
there was a break in play when James McCarthy needed treatment after a
strong challenge by Bradley Johnson, which resulted in the Norwich
midfielder being shown a yellow card.

James McArthur let fly with an angled
drive which Norwich keeper Mark Bunn, replacing injured England
international John Ruddy, held on to at the second attempt.

Referee Lee Probert then incurred the
wrath of the Barclay Stand when he showed Pilkington a yellow card for
diving, when replays suggested the Norwich winger had been tripped by
defender Adrian Lopez as he cut back towards the penalty area.

Pilkington almost hooked the ball in after Al Habsi had spilled a right-wing cross from Robert Snodgrass.

Full-back Steven Whittaker had scored a
fine individual goal in last week's 4-3 win at Swansea and the Scotland
defender surged forwards after 34 minutes to the edge of the Wigan
penalty area before drilling a low, angled shot just wide.

Back on track: Wigan celebrate after Shaun Maloney (second right) scored their equaliser

Back on track: Wigan celebrate after Shaun Maloney (second right) scored their equaliser

Take that: Goalkeeper Mark Bunn roars with delight as Norwich regain the lead

Take that: Goalkeeper Mark Bunn roars with delight as Norwich regain the lead

Al Habsi then produced a brilliant
one-handed save to turn away a bullet header from Snodgrass after
left-back Javier Garrido had lofted the ball to the far post.

Latics boss Roberto Martinez made a
double change for the second half as midfielders Maloney and David Jones
replaced Jordi Gomez and McCarthy.

It was Norwich, though, who again
showed an early threat as Grant Holt – making his 150th appearance –
drilled in an angled effort which Al Habsi palmed behind.

Hitman: Holt fires a shot towards goal, with Norwich on top of their opponents

Hitman: Holt fires a shot towards goal, with Norwich on top of their opponents

Drive: Alexander Tettey launches a strike at Ali Al-Habsi's goal

Drive: Alexander Tettey launches a strike at Ali Al-Habsi's goal

Wigan were level on 51 minutes.

Arouna Kone carried the ball into the
left side of the Norwich penalty area, before he pulled a pass back to
the edge of the box where Maloney crashed his shot into the net.

The goal completely changed the
dynamic of the match as the hosts suddenly looked devoid of ideas and
uncomfortable in possession.

Norwich put some pressure on Wigan
again as the hour mark passed, but Holt could only send a scissors-kick
horribly wide from Snodgrass' floated ball to the far post.

Tussle: Jean Beausejour (right) and Norwich City's Robert Snodgrass battle for the ball

Tussle: Jean Beausejour (right) and Norwich City's Robert Snodgrass battle for the ball

Go for it: Roberto Martinez urged his players on as they struggled

Go for it: Roberto Martinez urged his players on as they struggled

Referee Probert had been taking plenty
of flak from the home fans, but played a good advantage after Snodgrass
had been bodychecked and Norwich broke quickly down the left through
Pilkington.

The former Huddersfield winger drove
on to the goalline, where he cut back inside Boyce before delivering a
teasing cross, which Hoolahan headed past Al Habsi on 64 minutes.

Norwich continued to ask questions of the visitors.

Chris Hughton

Hoolahan

Good day: Chris Hughton (left) saw his side emerge triumphant with Hoolahan (right) in fine fettle

Hands on hips: Grant Holt watches on as ref Lee Probert blows his whistle

Hands on hips: Grant Holt watches on as ref Lee Probert blows his whistle

Johnson tested the Wigan goalkeeper
with a low effort from 20 yards, before Al Habsi produced another fine
save to deny Pilkington.

With seven minutes to go, Hoolahan was replaced by Jonny Howson and the diminutive midfielder left to a standing ovation.

Sebastian Bassong made a brilliant
last-ditch tackle to block Kone in stoppage time as Norwich closed out a
fifth straight home win – with Chelsea and Manchester City the next
visitors to Norfolk over the hectic festive schedule.

Andrew Flintoff glad to beat Richard Dawson

I won a personal battle: Flintoff happy to silence critics after overcoming Dawson

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UPDATED:

09:35 GMT, 1 December 2012

Andrew Flintoff admitted he had won a personal battle in beating Richard Dawson on his heavyweight boxing debut in Manchester.

The 34-year-old former England cricket captain was knocked down in the second round but recovered to win by a single point on the referee's scorecard.

And Flintoff, who was roared on by a raucous home crowd of almost 6,000, admitted he will take much more than just victory from his eight minutes in the ring.

Winner: Andrew Flintoff (right) won a personal battle after beat Richard Dawson

Winner: Andrew Flintoff (right) won a personal battle after beat Richard Dawson

'This was a personal battle,' he said. 'The battles with my mind and breaking down barriers every day and improving has been as good as anything.

'I don't want the open top buses but I can go to bed tonight and close my eyes knowing I've overcome a few things.'

Flintoff's battle with bulimia has been well documented during by Sky television in the build-up to the fight and he shed over three-and-a-half stone in preparation for his maiden bout.

'I've had a few personal issues,' he added. 'Every time walking between the ropes has been an effort. The physical aspect is one thing but the mental aspect is another thing completely.

'I take my hat off to boxers and I give every credit to the hard work they put in.

Raucous: Freddie was cheered on by 5,000 fans in the Manchester Arena

Raucous: Freddie was cheered on by 5,000 fans in the Manchester Arena

No 1 fan: Rachael Flintoff, Andrew's wife, was at ringside

No 1 fan: Rachael Flintoff, Andrew's wife, was at ringside

'I put myself out to a degree but if I'd have been knocked out in the first round, everyone would have said: “Oh, he's just a big cricketer”.

'On a global scale, this comes nowhere near to my cricket career. I've had a novice heavyweight fight but I've had the chance to play for England in Ashes series's and been successful.'

Flintoff started the fight on the front foot but Dawson, 23, threatened to spoil the party when he sent his opponent to the canvas in the second session.

'I got caught and went down, I was a bit off balance,' Flintoff said. 'The ref said “What's your name” and I was like “it's Freddie!”. That made me more determined, I didn't want it to end then.

First foray: Flintoff won his debut professional bout

First foray: Flintoff won his debut professional bout

'It was everything I expected and more. It wasn't one for the purists but all the work over the last four-and-a-half months with these two guys [Shane and Barry McGuigan] was about those eight minutes. I think I got the full experience; I got the canvas, the black eye and the win! It was like an out of body experience.'

Flintoff will make a decision on his future between the ropes in the new year and refused to say he had proved his critics wrong after several high profile figures in the sport ridiculed his efforts.

'I didn't do this to prove people wrong. I appreciate people want to protect the sport. This whole process was never about degrading boxing. We wanted to do it properly and show boxing for what a fantastic sport it is. I think at times boxers don't get the credit they deserve.

'We should give credit to Richard Dawson who came over. It was never going to be easy but he's conducted himself very well. '

Alastair Cook can write his name in England"s history books

Cook has the chance to add his name to list of England greats as his closes in on milestone

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UPDATED:

14:50 GMT, 24 November 2012

Alastair Cook is no stranger to breaking records and another is coming into view as he drags his England side back into contention in this second Test.

Finishing the day unbeaten on 87, the opener has a golden opportunity tomorrow to add to his growing list of achievements by drawing level with Wally Hammond, Geoffrey Boycott and Colin Cowdrey on 22 Test hundreds.

Like Hammond, Cook can reach the record landmark for an England batsman in 85 Tests. Nobody else has got there quicker.

Closing in on a milestone: England captain Alastair Cook is on 87 not out at the close of day two while Kevin Pietersen is on 62

Closing in on a milestone: England captain Alastair Cook is on 87 not out at the close of day two while Kevin Pietersen is on 62

Kevin Pietersen also has the chance to join his captain in rarefied company, the South African-born batsman needing 38 runs in the morning to also reach 22 Test centuries.

With both players at the crease, England have a chance of establishing a position of dominance in this match and an opportunity to head into the third Test of the series at Kolkata level.

That they saw off India's three-pronged spin attack to end the day on 178 for two, a defecit of 149 runs, was significant.

India had posted 327 in their first innings, which looked more than par on a testing surface at the Wankhede Stadium. Cheteshwar Pujara was the catalyst behind that total, scoring 135 runs before he was finally dismissed by Graeme Swann, thanks to a sharp stumping by wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

He had batted for almost 17 hours in this series without being dismissed, with his unbeaten scores of 206 and 41 in Ahmedabad setting up India's win in the first Test.

Pujara's runs rendered Cook's heroic 176 in England's second innings academic.

Leading by example: Alastair Cook will hope to complete his 22nd Test century

Leading by example: Alastair Cook will hope to complete his 22nd Test century

This time, though, there's an oppotunity for Cook's runs to really count.

So often captains find their form with the bat affected by the responsibility of leading the side. Not so Cook.

Like Australia's Michael Clarke, the Essex opener appears to relish the extra pressure. Cook, 27, is second only to Clarke in terms of runs scored this year. Considering it's a list which also includes South Africa's Hashim Amla, it's no mean feat.

Yet ever since Cook scored a century on debut against India as a 21-year-old at Nagpur six years ago, we knew he was a special talent.

The astonishing Ashes series of 2010/11, when he scored 766 runs in the series as England ended their 24-year hoodoo in Australia, will be hard to beat.

But in conditions far less helpful to English batsman, Cook could produce something equally special – especially if he can help his side to a first series win in this country for 27 years.

No England player has scored more than 594 runs during a series in India. But, with 304 already in just three innings, Ken Barrington's record set in 1960-61 looks there for the taking.

For now, though, all Cook will be focussing on when the pair take to the field tomorrow morning will be adding to the 112-run stand he has put on with Pietersen. England's hopes depend on it.

Neil Lennon prepares to use Scott Brown

Brown in agony after Benfica defeat but Lennon prepares to use skipper for push in Europe

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UPDATED:

00:07 GMT, 24 November 2012

It might well have been a medical bulletin on the victim of an industrial accident. For Neil Lennon, there is no disguising the often hideous pain Scott Brown is having to endure in order to wear the captain’s armband.

'He can’t get up out of bed some mornings,’ said the Celtic manager. 'He can’t drive. He’ll probably just make it down the stairs and lie on the couch for three or four hours before he can actually get up and start walking about.

'That’s because of pain and cramps. It’s caused by inflammation of the stomach and pelvic area.'

Walking wounded: Scott Brown (left) was in pain after the 2-1 defeat against Benfica

Walking wounded: Scott Brown (left) was in pain after the 2-1 defeat against Benfica

The price of success can come in many forms.

Brown’s current physical plight is a direct consequence of a brutal fixture schedule that’s been unrelenting four almost four months, Champions League qualifiers and group games interspersed with domestic and international commitments.

Even supreme athletes like him have their breaking point. That ability to charge at opponents at breakneck speed only for the breaks to screech comes at a cost.

After he limped out of the defeat to Benfica on Tuesday, his manager felt his injury had 'run its course' and in short order it will be given the medical attention it requires in the form of an operation.

But having received an absolute assurance from medics that pushing that date with the knife back two weeks will in no way further harm the player, Lennon will ask Brown to go to the well once again.

It’s not every day that the last 16 of the Champions League is on the line, after all.

'We’re not doing any more damage to him. It’s just not getting any better,' Lennon added.

'With the lack of training obviously his condition deteriorates a little bit but he’s such a good athlete that he’s coped as well as he has done so far.

'What I don’t want is for him to be maybe 60 to 70 per cent fit and I take a gamble with him. I’d rather just put somebody in who’s fit and ready to play (against Spartak).

Back in the fray: Brown will be used again in Celtic's bid to progress to the last 16

Back in the fray: Brown will be used again in Celtic's bid to progress to the last 16

'He has been working really hard with the medical team and we are devising a programme for him for the next couple of weeks where he’ll get some game time and maybe have him really ready for Moscow.

'With the way the situation is, I’d imagine if we didn’t have Champions League football then we wouldn’t be going through this with him.

'We’d have rested him a lot more because we wouldn’t have such a build up of games.

'But it’s manageable. I mean, he’s out there training today.

'He doesn’t moan about it but that’s the problem sometimes. He’ll keep it to himself when I’d rather he told me. Then he’ll come to me and say “I was in bits yesterday” or “I can’t train today”.

'It was originally a stomach injury but it’s referring down to the hip and groin area so it needs sorting out. Joe Ledley is starting to show symptoms of it as well but obviously not as severe as Scott's.

'It’s just wear and tear from the demands of travelling. The physical and mental fatigue makes competing in four competitions a big ask but they are coping with it pretty well.'

Hard though it now seems to fathom, there was a time when the prospect of Brown being posted missing for such a mammoth match would not exactly have been met with a day of national mourning by the Celtic support.

These days, the understanding of Lennon’s desire to do all he can to ensure his skipper plays against Spartak is absolute.

Ready: Neil Lennon was in training ahead of Celtic's match against Inverness

Ready: Neil Lennon was in training ahead of Celtic's match against Inverness

Even if Victor Wanyama were not suspended for the Group G decider, Brown’s presence would be a matter of high importance to the manager.

Asked if he’d have been tempted to rest Brown if Wanyama had been available, Lennon replied: ‘No, because I’d like him to play anyway. We need players and, as close to his best condition as possible, he’s been brilliant for us.

'Certainly in the opening three games he had three brilliant games and he was fantastic for us and he‘s been playing the best football of his career – but this has really hampered him.

'I don’t think anyone now has any doubts that he is capable of being the captain. He has proved that over the last couple of years and I think he has won the support over.

'There were a few doubts about him for a while but I think now people see what a really good player he is. He has tidied up all the confrontational side of him on the pitch and the ill-discipline – he has matured a lot and has just been playing really well.'

Brown won’t be the only player who will be used sparingly against Inverness on Saturday, at Tynecastle on Wednesday then when Arbroath come visiting in the Scottish Cup next Saturday.

With four plates in the air, Lennon will mix and match his squad in the run-up to the Spartak game.

The deep-seated desire to progress in all competitions must be tempered with pragmatism and a sense of priority.

'They’re all important but ultimately the short-term aim would be the Spartak Moscow game,' Lennon conceded.

'First of all we have to get a team in our mind and then see how we go about balancing getting them ready for that.

Out: Victor Wanyama is suspended for the final Champions League match in Group G

Out: Victor Wanyama is suspended for the final Champions League match in Group G

'I would probably say that the majority of those who will play against Moscow – or who will be in contention for Moscow – wouldn’t play the weekend before against Arbroath.

'As regards these other two games, I want to be strong because they’re going to be difficult games for us.

‘If we can beat Arbroath in the Cup and regardless of what happens against Moscow we will be in the Europa League, so they’ve done very well so far.’

While the defeat in Lisbon was a marked improvement on many a European away day for Celtic over the past decade, the performance paled in significance with the overwhelming majority they’ve produced in Europe this season.

But with a home game against an already eliminated side to come, one in which a win would, in all probability, clinch qualification, there is no question of public castigation.

'I had a chat with them today about it,' Lennon continued.

All smiles: Lennon is ready to mix and match his squad before the Spartak Moscow match at Parkhead

All smiles: Lennon is ready to mix and match his squad before the Spartak Moscow match at Parkhead

'Sometimes it’s best to leave them to it and let them digest it themselves first. They know they weren’t at their best but they are punching well above their weight and still have a real fighting chance of qualifying.

'I know they can play better and I know they will play better at home. They know what’s at stake so it should be another great European night for us hopefully.

'We are delighted to be in Europe beyond Christmas but obviously we would like to take it further in the Champions league. Their efforts deserved but sometimes you don’t get what you deserve in football.

'We’ll have to play strong and well against Moscow because they are a very dangerous team who play really good football. But with us at home and knowing what’s at stake they’ll have to play really well to beat us.'

Charlton 0 Barnsley 1 – match report

Charlton 0 Barnsley 1: Cywka strike earns Tykes deserved win

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UPDATED:

16:35 GMT, 20 October 2012

Tomasz Cywka struck midway through the second half to clinch Barnsley's second away win of the season in the npower Championship at shot-shy Charlton.

The Polish midfielder fired home an angled drive in the 64th minute as Keith Hill's side registered their second win in seven league matches to climb up to 16th place in the table.

It was no less than the Tykes deserved as they dominated from start to finish, while Charlton have now failed to win any of their last five league matches and offered nothing in this encounter until second-half substitute Bradley Pritchard forced visiting goalkeeper Ben Alnwick into a fine save late in the game.

Oh no: Charlton's Leon Cort (left) holds his head as he walks off the field with Michael Morrison

Oh no: Charlton's Leon Cort (left) holds his head as he walks off the field with Michael Morrison

MATCH FACTS

Charlton: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Cort, Solly,Green (Pritchard 68), Stephens, Hollands (Jackson 46), Kerkar, Fuller, Razak (Wright-Phillips 46).

Subs Not Used: Button, Evina, Hulse, Dervite.

Booked: Stephens, Solly, Wilson.

Barnsley: Alnwick, Stones, Foster, Wiseman, Golbourne, Mellis (Etuhu 89), Dawson, Perkins, Cywka (Hassell 90), Dagnall, Davies (Harewood 90).

Subs Not Used: Steele, Done, Rose, Kennedy.

Booked: Golbourne, Dawson.

Goals: Cywka 64.

Att: 26,185

Ref: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire).

Click here for the latest Championship results, fixtures and table

Barnsley were the more enterprising
side in the first 20 minutes with midfield trio Stephen Dawson, Jacob
Mellis and Tomasz Cywka peppering the Charlton goal with shots from
outside the penalty area.

Charlton struggled to mount a threat
on the visitors' goal and Barnsley striker Chris Dagnall went close to
breaking the deadlock in the 35th minute when his angled effort from
inside the penalty area was well held by home goalkeeper Ben Hamer.

Tykes forward Craig Davies, who made
his first appearance for Wales in almost five years against Scotland in
midweek, was foiled by a Charlton defender Leon Cort's last-gasp block
as the visitors continued to chase an opening goal and it was not until
three minutes before the break that Barnsley goalkeeper Ben Alnwick was
pressed into action.

Barnsley defender Scott Golbourne
fouled Charlton midfielder Danny Green on the edge of the area and
Alnwick pushed Dale Stephens' subsequent free-kick over the crossbar.

But the Tykes finished the first half on top, with Mellis going close again with a fierce 25-yard effort that whistled wide.

Charlton manager Chris Powell sent on
Johnnie Jackson and Bradley Wright-Phillips for Danny Hollands and
Abdul Razak respectively during the break in a bid to spark some life
into his side.

Come on: Chris Powell could not inspire his side

Come on: Chris Powell could not inspire his side

Barnsley continued to force the play
after the restart however and Dagnall went close again in the 53rd
minute when he flashed a volley from Mellis' floated free-kick just
passed Hamer's right-hand post.

The South Yorkshire side secured the
goal they deserved in the 64th minute. The ball was worked neatly to the
left side of Charlton's penalty area and Cwyka latched on to the ball
and lashed home a venomous right-footed finish high into the roof of the
net from 12 yards.

Powell sent on his third substitute,
Bradley Pritchard, for Green in the 68th minute, but Alnwick was still
redundant in the Barnsley goal as the Addicks struggled to muster
anything worthwhile in attack.

Stephens, in the 74th minute, dragged
his shot from the edge of the penalty area off target and substitute
Pritchard fired an effort from similar distance straight at Alnwick.

But shots on goal by Powell's side
could be counted on the fingers of one hand and Pritchard's late effort
from inside the area in the 89th minute was too little too late for the
Londoners.

Watford 1 Peterborough 0 – match report

Watford 1 Peterborough 0: Late penalty condemns Posh to yet another defeat

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UPDATED:

16:37 GMT, 20 October 2012

Matej Vydra stepped off the bench to give Watford a last-gasp win and condemn Peterborough to a ninth defeat in 11 npower Championship games this season.

Watford were troubled by their visitors in the opening exchanges, with attackers Emile Sinclair and Tyrone Barnett in lively form. Nevertheless, half-time was reached with neither goalkeeper overly extended.

Gianfranco Zola's Hornets assumed the ascendancy upon the resumption, but recalled forward Fernando Forestieri was wasteful when presented with opportunities.

Right direction: Watford pulled off a late win at home to struggling Peterborough

Right direction: Watford pulled off a late win at home to struggling Peterborough

MATCH FACTS

Watford: Almunia, Hall, Doyley, Hoban, Hogg, Pudil, Abdi (Vydra 72), Cassetti, Chalobah, Deeney (Geijo 86), Forestieri (Yeates 88). Subs Not Used: Bond, Murray, Anya, Thompson.

Booked: Deeney,Pudil,Almunia.

Goals: Vydra 90 pen.

Peterborough: Olejnik, Alcock (McCann 60), Brisley, Knight-Percival, Bostwick, Boyd, Rowe (Ntlhe 46), Ferdinand, Little, Barnett, Sinclair (Berahino 67). Subs Not Used: Richens, Zakuani, Swanson, Tomlin.

Booked: Knight-Percival, Ntlhe, McCann.

Att: 15,950

Ref: Geoff Eltringham (Tyne & Wear).

Click here for the latest Championship results, fixtures and table

The closest either side came to
breaking the deadlock before Vydra's late intervention was a strike from
Watford's Nathaniel Chalobah that went behind via the post.

But Kane Ferdinand infringed Daniel
Pudil in the 89th minute and Vydra, one of Zola's sizeable Udinese loan
contingent, kept his cool to leave Darren Ferguson's Posh rooted to the
foot of the table and five points from safety.

Lloyd Doyley and Forestieri returned to the Watford starting line-up in place of injured defender Piccoli Neuton and Vydra.

Peterborough were unchanged from the 1-0 home defeat to Nottingham Forest before the international break.

Ferguson's strugglers came flying out
of the blocks with Watford defender Pudil forced to divert an Emile
Sinclair cross behind for a corner inside the first 20 seconds, from
which Tommy Rowe headed over.

Almen Abdi and Marco Cassetti responded for the home side but their off-target efforts were no more than speculative.

Peterborough striker Tyrone Barnett
had a clearer chance midway through the half but headed Mark Little's
cross over Manuel Almunia's bar.

Fitz Hall might have done better from
Forestieri's corner as half-time approached but chances were proving
very hard to come by for Zola's men.

Ferguson made a defensively-minded change at the interval with Kgosi Ntlhe introduced in favour of Rowe.

Forestieri engineered space in the area but dragged his shot wide of the near post six minutes after the restart.

Watford came agonisingly close to
breaking the deadlock as the hour approached when Chalobah fired
goalward right-footed from the edge of the box and rattled the post with
Posh goalkeeper Robert Olejnik helpless.

Twice more Forestieri was wasteful from close quarters as the visitors were pushed onto the back foot.

But eventually the pressure told and
with less than 90 seconds of normal time to play, Ferdinand fouled Pudil
and referee Geoff Eltringham pointed to the spot.

Introduced as a 72nd minute
replacement for Abdi, Serbian striker Vydra fired home a low penalty to
send those among the Vicarage Road faithful who had not opted for an
early exit into raptures.