Tag Archives: brilliant

Brendan Rodgers claims Luis Suarez will not leave Liverpool

Suarez isn't going anywhere, vows Rodgers as Liverpool chase European place

By
Andy Hampson, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

10:23 GMT, 26 January 2013

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UPDATED:

10:23 GMT, 26 January 2013

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has no concerns about star striker Luis Suarez's commitment to the club.

The Uruguay international is enjoying an outstanding season having scored 20 goals for the Anfield outfit.

That has led to speculation that other clubs could move in for the 40million-rated forward if the Reds' absence from the Champions League continues.

Staying put: Brendan Rodgers says his star striker Luis Suarez will remain at Anfield even if they miss out on the Champions League

Staying put: Brendan Rodgers says his star striker Luis Suarez will remain at Anfield even if they miss out on the Champions League

Liverpool are currently seventh in the Barclays Premier League and facing a battle to regain a place in Europe's elite competition.

But Rodgers is confident Suarez shares his vision for the club and does not believe the 26-year-old's future on Merseyside depends on whether they qualify or not.

Don't walk away: Rodgers says he has no reason to doubt Suarez's commitment, despite rumours of a big money move

Don't walk away: Rodgers says he has no reason to doubt Suarez's commitment, despite rumours of a big money move

Rodgers said: 'Luis had a terrific season last season and he had an opportunity to leave in the summer, and probably would have had a ready-made excuse with a new manager coming in, but he never did.

'He committed to the club. He sees the vision going forward, and he believes in that.

'He knows it won't happen overnight. He has had a brilliant season with 20 goals until now, and hopefully there are many more to come.'

Sharp shooter: Suarez already has 20 goals this season

Sharp shooter: Suarez already has 20 goals this season

Suarez signed a long-term contract at Anfield in August.

Liverpool face a big week with an FA Cup fourth-round tie at Oldham followed by Premier League away trips to Arsenal and Manchester City.

Rodgers is determined to keep firing on all fronts.

He said: 'When you are a club like this you are judged on your trophies, and we want to improve in the league as well.'

Wesley Sneijder wants Premier League big guns to hijack Galatasaray move

EXCLUSIVE: United, City, Spurs and Chelsea on alert as Turkey-bound Sneijder wants big guns to hijack Galatasaray move

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

12:59 GMT, 10 January 2013

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UPDATED:

14:09 GMT, 10 January 2013

Wesley Sneijder is pining for a last-minute switch to England and has asked his advisers to make one final attempt to plot a move to a top Premier League club.

Despite being on the brink of a transfer to Galatasaray, the Inter Milan midfielder has made it clear to his agent that his preference remains a move to the English game.

Sneijder's representatives have been in talks with Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea but they all turned down the player because of his high wage demands.

Don't rule it out: Wesley Sneijder still fancies a move to the Premier League

Don't rule it out: Wesley Sneijder still fancies a move to the Premier League

He currently earns nearly 9million a year at the San Siro and has always refused to take a significant pay cut. But if a last-minute move to England can be resurrected, it would require the unsettled Holland star to finally lower his wage demands.

On Wednesday Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti confirmed an offer from Galatasaray has been accepted.

The Turkish side revealed they had entered in discussions for Sneijder, who has not played for Inter since September amid a public stand-off over a proposed pay cut to his contract.

Brilliant orange: Midfielder Sneijder has 90 caps for Holland

Brilliant orange: Midfielder Sneijder has 90 caps for Holland

'Galatasaray's offer satisfies us. Now it depends on the player,' Moratti told Sky Sports on Wednesday. 'We would be happy if he decided to stay on our terms.'

Sneijder has reportedly been asked to accept a 1.6m pay cut to his annual salary with the Nerazzurri.

Inter head coach Andrea Stramaccioni has, however, maintained the the 28-year-old's continued absence from his first team is solely a tactical decision.

My decision: Andrea Stramaccioni has been leaving Sneijder out of the Inter team

My decision: Andrea Stramaccioni has been leaving Sneijder out of the Inter team

A statement on the Turkish club's official website read: 'Galatasaray announces it has begun negotiations with FC Internazionale for the transfer of Wesley Sneijder.

'The public will be informed of developments.'

Sneijder joined Inter in August 2009 after winning La Liga with Real Madrid. In his first season he won the Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia before reaching the World Cup final with Holland, only to lose to Spain.

David Weir hits out at New Year Honours system

Weir having to win more medals to get recognised! Paralympic hero hits out at New Year Honours system after CBE

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UPDATED:

11:31 GMT, 29 December 2012

Six-time gold medallist David Weir has suggested Paralympians have to work harder to earn recognition than their non-disabled counterparts.

Weir has been recognised with a CBE for winning four gold medals at this summer's London Games, but the wheelchair athlete was not among the five sporting dames and knights created.

Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins and British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford have both been knighted, as has sailor Ben Ainslie, with Paralympic cyclist Sarah Storey becoming a dame after taking her gold medal tally to 11 to match Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson's record.

Golden boy: David Weir won four events at London 2012

Golden boy: David Weir won four events at London 2012

British rowing performance director David Tanner has also been knighted.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Weir said: 'I am absolutely honoured to receive this award.

'I would have been disappointed if Sarah Storey had not been made a dame because she deserves it with 11 gold medals.

'It's a weird one how they choose it. Sometimes it seems that Paralympians have to win lots and lots of medals to get a damehood or a knighthood.

What a summer: Weir played his part in a brilliant period for British sport

What a summer: Weir played his part in a brilliant period for British sport

'Kelly Holmes was made a dame when she won two gold medals, but it seems we have to get into double figures to get it.

'Sarah Storey should have been awarded this years ago, and I just feel that sometimes we are left out perhaps because we are not in the public eye.

'It is a bit strange, but I am just honoured to get anything from the Queen for doing a sport I love.'

Weir is the only disabled athlete among five CBEs with only two Paralympians receiving OBEs.

LIVE: India v England – day one, fourth Test, Nagpur

LIVE: India v England – the action on day one of the fourth Test in Nagpur as it happens

|

UPDATED:

09:56 GMT, 13 December 2012

Stay up to date with all the action on day one of the fourth Test between England and India with Sportsmail's
unrivalled team. We'll deliver over-by-over coverage as the action
unfolds in Nagpur while our brilliant team of writers update with their
insights from the ground. Tweet your thoughts to: @James Andrew_ or email your thoughts to [email protected]

India v England – essentials

India: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja, Mahendra Dhoni (capt & wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Piyush Chawla, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha.

England: Alastair Cook (capt), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Matt Prior (wk), Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Monty Panesar.

Umpires: R Tucker (Aus) and K Dharmasena (SL)

Match referee: J Crowe (NZ)

ENGLAND WON THE TOSS AND BAT

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80th over: England 164-5 (Root 21, Prior 14)

79th over: England 164-5 (Root 21, Prior 14)

Ashwin comes back into the attack.

Prior plays one down to deep point for a single and Root then flicks one wide of mid-on for another single.

78th over: England 162-5 (Root 20, Prior 13)

Ojha comes back to bowl.

Root adds two more with a nice drive through the covers.

77th over: England 160-5 (Root 18, Prior 13)

Prior takes a single off the first ball with a shot to deep backward square. Root then adds two with a nice shot guided to point.

76th over: England 156-5 (Root 15, Prior 12)

Jadeja to Root and it is yet another maiden. I wish I hadn't said anything a few overs a go.

75th over: England 156-5 (Root 15, Prior 12)

Sharma comes back into the attack after his spell on the side lines and he starts off this spell with a maiden.

74th over: England 156-5 (Root 15, Prior 12)

Just as I mention the lack of maidens, what happens next A maiden from Jadeja.

73rd over: England 152-5 (Root 15, Prior 8)

A lovely shot by Prior from the final ball of the over with a nice shot through the covers.

72nd over: England 148-5 (Root 15, Prior 8)

A run each for Root and Prior, the runs are not flowing freely, but at least the maidens have stopped – for now.

71st over: England 146-5 (Root 14, Prior 7)

Sharma is back on the field.

Prior takes one and then Root plays a nice flick past square leg for three.

70th over: England 146-5 (Root 11, Prior 5)

Prior gets one off the over from the bowling of Jadeja.

69th over: England 145-5 (Root 11, Prior 5)

Prior plays a cut shot towards cover point for two.

68th over: England 142-5 (Root 11, Prior 3)

WICKET: Pietersen c Ojha b Jadeja 73

Big wicket for India, they have got England's main man, it was a loose shot against the spin (what little spin there is) and Ojha takes the catch low at midwicket. England are wobbling.

Matt Prior is the new man in the middle.

Prior gets two off his first ball with an edge and then adds a single to keep the strike.

Coming in for his debut: Joe Root came in for England at No 6

Coming in for his debut: Joe Root came in for England at No 6

67th over: England 139-4 (Pietersen 73, Root 11)

Some news emerging from the England camp, Stuart Broad has been ruled out of the two-match Twenty20 series against India due to a heel injury and will be replaced as captain by Eoin Morgan. James Harris has been called into the Twenty20 squad as a result.

Root gets a single with a shot into the covers and Pietersen then adds another one.

66th over: England 137-4 (Pietersen 72, Root 10)

Excellent shot from Pietersen from the first ball after tea, a flashing drive that goes past cover point for FOUR.

TEA ON DAY ONE: ENGLAND 133-4

View from Sportsmail's cricket writer and editor of Wisden, Lawrence Booth in Nagpur:

'The trouble with attritional cricket is that it places an onus on the batsmen not to give it away. While England were advancing at two an over to 101 for 2, this was not an issue. But Jonathan Trott gift-wrapped a first Test wicket to Ravindra Jadeja, and Ian Bell presented Piyush Chawla with his first since April 2008. If England are to close out this series, they can’t afford many more shows of generosity.

A lot now depends on Kevin Pietersen, who has reined himself in with impressive discipline on a pitch apparently designed to scare away the people of Nagpur for a generation.

Occasionally Pietersen has opened up, using his class to pierce the few gaps presented by MS Dhoni’s ultra-defensive field. But this was cricket for a very particular type of connoisseur – one who goes through life wondering who is going to blink first.

Dhoni was damned if he was going to be that man, setting 6-3 leg-side fields for Ishant Sharma and generally placing his men as if in a one-day international.

Trott was in his element for a while, and looked set for a repeat of his Kolkata vigil before he misjudged a delivery from the left-arm spin of Jadeja that went on with the arm. Bell got bogged down, but didn’t have the nous to ride it out, driving elegantly to extra-cover to make it 119 for 4.

Joe Root has made a positive start to his Test career, and Pietersen is still there on 68. But, after finally winning a toss, England will be disappointed with anything less than 300.'

65th over: England 133-4 (Pietersen 68, Root 10)

Pietersen sweeps one into the deep, they run one and come back for the second, for a second it looks as though Root may struggle to make his ground, but he does

Run off the final ball of the over meaning Pietersen will keep the strike after tea.

64th over: England 130-4 (Pietersen 65, Root 10)

Nice shot by Root to square leg for two.

He then finds a boundary with a well timed drive for FOUR.

63rd over: England 124-4 (Pietersen 65, Root 4)

First runs in Test match cricket for Root. He will be relieved to be off the mark. He takes a big stride forward and plays a neat drive through the covers for three.

Pietersen adds one more and then Root retains the strike with a single from the final ball of the over.

62nd over: England 119-4 (Pietersen 64, Root 0)

Ojha comes back on and it is another maiden.

61st over: England 119-4 (Pietersen 64, Root 0)

Now this is interesting, Ishant Sharma has gone off the field just one over into his latest spell. Rules state that players can only go off if injured (it does not always work like that in practice) but if he is injured then that is a problem for Dhoni, as he is his only seamer.

Piyush Chawla comes into the attack.

Pietersen takes two thanks to a miss field, gets home safely despite the appeal. And then another single.

WICKET: Bell c Kohli b Chawla 1

Bell chips one to short extra-cover and he is caught, 28 balls, one run and out.

Debutant Joe Root is the new man in the middle. A big moment for the young batsman.

60th over: England 116-3 (Pietersen 61, Bell 1)

And another maiden, this time it is Jadeja to Bell.

59th over: England 116-3 (Pietersen 61, Bell 1)

Sharma to Pietersen and another maiden.

58th over: England 116-3 (Pietersen 61, Bell 1)

Just one slip in for Bell. Four leg-byes come off the final ball.

57th over: England 112-3 (Pietersen 61, Bell 1)

India's only seamer Ishant Sharma is back into the attack.

Chance for India, or was it Pietersen flicked one away towards midwicket and Cheteshwar Pujara could not hold it, but unclear if it actually carried.

Maiden over.

56th over: England 112-3 (Pietersen 61, Bell 1)

Another maiden from Jadeja, bowling to Bell.

55th over: England 112-3 (Pietersen 61, Bell 1)

Another good shot from Pietersen which is dispatched to the boundary, it was in the air, but safely over extra cover for FOUR.

Looking to build: England batsman Ian Bell make a telling contribution with the bat

Looking to build: England batsman Ian Bell make a telling contribution with the bat

54th over: England 108-3 (Pietersen 57, Bell 1)

The dot balls continue to mount, another maiden for India, this time it is Jadeja.

53rd over: England 108-3 (Pietersen 57, Bell 1)

Ojha to Pietersen, and not for the first time today it is a maiden.

52nd over: England 108-3 (Pietersen 57, Bell 1)

Bell gets off the mark as he plays the ball to mid-on and scampers home for a single. KP then adds one more from the final ball to keep the strike.

51st over: England 106-3 (Pietersen 56, Bell 0)

Another perfectly timed shot from Pietersen for FOUR, this time he plays it through midwicket.

50th over: England 102-3 (Pietersen 52, Bell 0)

WICKET: Trott b Jadeja 44

The debutant gets his first Test wicket. Trott left it along and it came in to take the bails. What was he thinking

Ian Bell comes to the middle.

49th over: England 101-2 (Trott 44, Pietersen 51)

Another nice sweep shot from Trott to the backward square boundary for FOUR.

That brings up the hundred for England.

Time for drinks.

48th over: England 97-2 (Trott 40, Pietersen 51)

KP breaks to eat a banana.

Another maiden for Jadeja.

47th over: England 97-2 (Trott 40, Pietersen 51)

Ojha bowls another maiden to Trott. India have done well to keep the runs down.

46th over: England 97-2 (Trott 40, Pietersen 51)

Jadeja comes back into the attack.

KP sees a good shot well blocked. Maiden.

45th over: England 97-2 (Trott 40, Pietersen 51)

Trott survives a very optimistic shout for LBW after missing a sweep. It was sliding down the leg side. Maiden for Ojha

44th over: England 97-2 (Trott 40, Pietersen 51)

Pietersen works one away fine to the boundary for for FOUR.

FIFTY FOR KEVIN PIETERSEN

KP then nudges one away to square leg for one and then Trott gets a single off the last ball.

43rd over: England 91-2 (Trott 39, Pietersen 46)

Ojha comes back for the first time in this session.

Pietersen drives one down to third man and they run three.

42nd over: England 88-2 (Trott 39, Pietersen 43)

Ashwin bowls five dot balls to Trott, but the sixth is unleashed past point for FOUR.

41st over: England 84-2 (Trott 35, Pietersen 43)

Sharma continues, this policy of using just one seamer could come back to hurt India.

Pietersen drives one through the off-side for FOUR, brilliantly timed shot.

40th over: England 80-2 (Trott 35, Pietersen 39)

Pietersen whips one away down to deep square for one.

39th over: England 79-2 (Trott 35, Pietersen 38)

Pietersen works one away for one and Trott flicks one away for a single and KP ends the over with one more towards square.

38th over: England 76-2 (Trott 34, Pietersen 36)

FOUR for Trott, a nicely timed half volley through cover point.

37th over: England 72-2 (Trott 30, Pietersen 36)

Sharma looks to bang one down to Trott but it gets no height, Trott looks to sway out of the way to avoid being hit and it hits the gloves and goes away towards third man for one.

36th over: England 70-2 (Trott 29, Pietersen 36)

Ashwin to Trott and it is another maiden.

35th over: England 70-2 (Trott 29, Pietersen 36)

Sharma stays on at the other end.

Pietersen gets two from a ball he works away towards long-leg.

Sharma then bowls too straight and KP has no problem in flicking it away past midwicket.

Pietersen adds a single and Trott does the same, eight runs from the over.

34th over: England 62-2 (Trott 28, Pietersen 29)

Ashwin takes the ball after lunch.

Big session for both sides, England and Pietersen in particular will look to kick on, while India will no doubt feel that a couple of wickets and they are in with a good chance of winning this Test and leveling the series.

Pietersen flicks one away to deep backward square for a single.

LUNCH ON DAY ONE: ENGLAND 61-2

View from Sportsmail's cricket writer and editor of Wisden, Lawrence Booth in Nagpur:

'That was a bizarre session, in which England’s early nerves were assisted by India’s eggs-in-one-basket selection. If Ishant Sharma had been granted a fellow seamer to help him exploit a pitch of variable bounce (most of it low), England might have been in deeper trouble than 61 for 2 after both openers had fallen with 16 on the board.

At lunch, they were grateful to have faced as many as 25 overs of spin, many of them met with a dead bat as England focussed on not making a mess of winning their first toss of the series.

It really was slow going. Nick Compton nibbled at one he ought to have left, even if he might have been unfortunate to get one of the few deliveries which didn’t die a sorry death on the way through to MS Dhoni.

And Alastair Cook, tied down by Pragyan Ojha’s left-arm spin and a 7-2 leg-side field, was definitely unlucky to be given out leg-before by umpire Dharmasena to a ball that was clearly missing off stump.

If Cook’s 1 off 28 balls – following 548 runs in the first three Tests – said something about the mood of the morning and the state of the pitch, then Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen were generally content to bide their time. It may be the only match-winning template available as England go in search of their first series win in India for nearly 28 years.'

Looking to make his mark: Kevin Pietersen will look to build after lunch

Looking to make his mark: Kevin Pietersen will look to build after lunch

33rd over: England 61-2 (Trott 28, Pietersen 28)

This should be the last over before lunch.

Pietersen gets a single. Trott then ducks to avoid a bouncer, but again it does not bounce particularly high.

One from the over, and that is lunch.

32nd over: England 60-2 (Trott 28, Pietersen 27)

Trott sees off a maiden from Ashwin.

31st over: England 60-2 (Trott 28, Pietersen 27)

Sharma comes back into the attack before lunch.

No slips in play. No real surprise given the lack of bounce in the pitch.

He bowls a maiden with his first over back.

30th over: England 60-2 (Trott 28, Pietersen 27)

Change of bowling for India, and it is their best player from the last test, Ravichandran Ashwin, to take over with the ball.

Trott paddles one away for a single. Pietersen drives one to long-on for a single.

Trott then hits a couple off the final ball of the over.

29th over: England 56-2 (Trott 25, Pietersen 26)

Trott works one away on the half-volley wide past Ashwin for three.

28th over: England 53-2 (Trott 22, Pietersen 26)

Jadeja stays on and bowls another maiden, this time to Pietersen.

27th over: England 53-2 (Trott 22, Pietersen 26)

Chawla to Trott and it is another maiden.

26th over: England 53-2 (Trott 22, Pietersen 26)

Pietersen looks in the mood now, he punches the ball through cover-point for another FOUR.

25th over: England 49-2 (Trott 22, Pietersen 22)

Pietersen starting to show his power, brilliant shot for FOUR over mid-on, really nice shot from the England batsman.

He's done it again, another boundary, as Pietersen once again clears mid-on for FOUR, no fuss from KP.

Single off the final ball and Pietersen keeps the strike. Nine from the over.

24th over: England 40-2 (Trott 22, Pietersen 13)

Pietersen finally finds the gap from the final ball, off the front foot and through cover point for three.

23rd over: England 37-2 (Trott 22, Pietersen 10)

Pietersen walks down the wicket and works one away to long-off for a single. One from the over.

22nd over: England 36-2 (Trott 22, Pietersen 9)

Trott facing Jadeja, and it is yet another maiden. Trott won't mind this, but you get the feeling that Pietersen at the other end could get frustrated, that is no doubt India's plan.

21st over: England 36-2 (Trott 22, Pietersen 9)

Bowling change for India, Piyush Chawla comes into the attack.

First run for a while. Trott pushes one away for a single.

20th over: England 35-2 (Trott 21, Pietersen 9)

This time it is the turn of Pietersen and Ojha, but the result is the same, another maiden.

19th over: England 35-2 (Trott 21, Pietersen 9)

Jadeja to Trott and it is another maiden. India keeping the runs down well.

18th over: England 35-2 (Trott 21, Pietersen 9)

Pietersen is having no real problem with this left arm spin so far, just struggling to beat the field at the moment. Another maiden.

17th over: England 35-2 (Trott 21, Pietersen 9)

Really nice shot from Trott, down the wicket, takes it on the half-volley and drives it between the stumps and mid-on for FOUR.

16th over: England 31-2 (Trott 17, Pietersen 9)

Ojha makes a big appeal against Pietersen, but there was a big inside edge. And then just a few balls later he goes up for another appeal, but Pietersen is so far down the wicket again there is no way it could be given out. Maiden.

15th over: England 31-2 (Trott 17, Pietersen 9)

Trott sees off Jadeja's first over after drinks. Maiden.

14th over: England 31-2 (Trott 17, Pietersen 9)

Trott sweeps one away over square leg for FOUR. Single off the final ball of the over as India look for a run-out, but Pietersen is home comfortably.

End of the first hour, so time for drinks.

13th over: England 26-2 (Trott 12, Pietersen 9)

Bowling change for India, and MS Dhoni is going for two left arm spinners as Ravindra Jadeja replaces Sharma.

Pietersen looks in the mood as he comes down the wicket again and plays one off the pads to midwicket and England run three.

Trott then pushes one to short leg for a single and then KP gets his first boundary of the morning. Pietersen comes down the wicket and lofts the ball back over the bowlers head for FOUR.

12th over: England 18-2 (Trott 11, Pietersen 2)

Ojha to Pietersen and there is another big appeal from the fourth ball as the ball hits the pads. But the England batsman is half way down the wicket when he lets the ball hit his pads. No way he could be given out coming that far down. Pietersen then takes a single.

Out in the middle: Jonathan Trott came in at No 3 earlier than he would have hoped after Nick Compton's dismissal

Out in the middle: Jonathan Trott came in at No 3 earlier than he would have hoped after Nick Compton's dismissal

11th over: England 17-2 (Trott 11, Pietersen 1)

WICKET: Cook LBW Sharma 1

Another big appeal from Sharma and this time umpire Kumar Dharmasena raises his finger. But it looked to be a poor decision. It was hitting him outside the line and did not look like it was going to hit the stumps. Very poor call from Dharmasena, not that you will hear too many Indians complain, they have dismissed England's talisman cheaply.

Kevin Pietersen is the new man for England and he will have to adjust to this pitch which seems to be dying a death out there.

He pulls one away from the final ball to keep the strike.

10th over: England 16-1 (Cook 1, Trott 11)

Trott sweeps Ojha away past short fine leg for FOUR. He is playing well, despite that scare in the last over.

9th over: England 12-1 (Cook 1, Trott 7)

Trott plays one fine down towards fine leg, good stop by Ojha on the boundary.

Trott then ducks to avoid a Sharma bouncer, with the pitch and its uneven bounce that one went through at about waist height.

Big, big appeal from Sharma. It was a length ball that was nipping in and it beat the inside edge, and hits Trott in front or just outside off as the umpire shakes his head. Probably just the correct decision, but it was very close.

8th over: England 9-1 (Cook 1, Trott 5)

India bring a leg slip in for Cook, the England skipper defends the over away.

Maiden over from Ojha.

7th over: England 9-1 (Cook 1, Trott 5)

First boundary of the day to Trott and it is a beautifully timed shot back down the ground past the stumps on the half volley for FOUR. It has been a careful start from England so far.

6th over: England 5-1 (Cook 1, Trott 1)

Cook gets off the mark with a shot to deep midwicket. Trott then gets off the mark with a single to mid-on.

5th over: England 3-1 (Cook 0, Trott 0)

WICKET: Compton c Dhoni b Sharma 3

Breakthrough for India early on. Sharma gets Compton to play at one and nicks off the edge and it is a straight forward catch for Dhoni behind the stumps, replays showed Sharma was very close to bowling a no ball, but it was ok – just. England are one down.

Jonathan Trott is the new man in the middle.

Wicket maiden for Sharma.

4th over: England 3-0 (Cook 0, Compton 3)

Compton defends the first five ball of the over. He then hits the final ball towards mid-on and takes a single to keep the strike.

3rd over: England 2-0 (Cook 0, Compton 2)

Compton works one away off the pads for a single down the leg side. Cook sees off the the remaining five balls of the over, and is still to get off the mark.

2nd over: England 1-0 (Cook 0, Compton 1)

Left arm spinner Pragyan Ojha takes the new ball at the other end.

First run of the morning as Compton pushes the ball to mid-on.

Cook then fends the remaining balls away. Just the one run from the over.

1st over: England 0-0 (Cook 0, Compton 0)

Only one seam bowler in the starting XI, and he, Ishant Sharma, opens up for India.

Low bounce from this first over, and it is a maiden first up.

Captain marvel: Alastair Cook has guided England to a 2-1 lead

Captain marvel: Alastair Cook has guided England to a 2-1 lead

3.57am: Earlier, Joe Root was handed his first Test cap by former batsman Paul Collingwood, big five days for the 21-year-old at No 6 for England.

3.55am: View from Sportsmail's Lawrence Booth in Nagpur via Twitter:

'England will miss Finn, but with Bresnan they have a shorter tail. In Mumbai, last four fell for seven, in Kolkata for 13…'

3.50am: We are just ten minutes away from the start of play and Alastair Cook and Nick Compton opening up for England. Hopefully from the England point of view they will start better than the second innings in the last Test where they found themselves 8 for 3.

3.45am: If England manage a draw then they will win the series 2-1 for the first time since 1984/85, if they win the game then they will win 3-1 for the first time ever.

3.35am: Couple of changes for England. Steven Finn misses out due to a bad back and Tim Bresnan returns. And as Sportsmail's Paul Newman revealed here, Joe Root comes in for his debut in place of Samit Patel.

3.30am: England have one the toss and will bat.

3.25am: The one thing England have not managed to do so far is win the toss, that is coming up. Can Cook win his first toss as England captain

3.15am: Good morning and welcome to the first days play of the fourth and final Test between India and England.

It has been some series so far, with India winning the first Test with ease and looking like they would stroll to a comfortable series win. But Alastair Cook and England had different ideas and fought back brilliantly to win the next two tests to take a 2-1 lead.

They now stand on the brink of a the first series win in India for 28 years.

Field of dreams: England have the chance to secure a famous series win in Nagpur

Field of dreams: England have the chance to secure a famous series win in Nagpur

Picture Dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from the fourth Test in Nagpur due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Michael Laudrup said Swansea were pressurised by the prospect of semi-final tie during Boro win

We felt the tension: Laudrup's Swansea were pressurised by the prospect of a semi-final tie during Boro win

|

UPDATED:

23:39 GMT, 12 December 2012

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup
admitted that the prize of a Capital One Cup semi-final meant his
players felt the tension as they edged past npower Championship side
Middlesbrough.

The Swans reached only a third
semi-final in top-flight cup competitions in their 100-year history
thanks to an 81st-minute own goal from Boro's Seb Hines that secured a
1-0 victory at Liberty Stadium.

It put Swansea into the last four
alongside Bradford – memorable conquerors of Arsenal – and Aston Villa,
while Chelsea meet Leeds in the remaining quarter-final next week.

Tense: Laudrup believes the prospect of a semi-final played on the minds of his team

Tense: Laudrup believes the prospect of a semi-final played on the minds of his team

'It was a very tight game,' Laudrup said. 'It wasn't a brilliant game to watch for the neutral, but it was a tight cup game.

'Everybody had the right attitude,
everybody wanted to win, but I think they wanted it too much (in the
first half). When you want something too badly, you can't do exactly
what you usually do.

'Middlesbrough put pressure on us,
but in the second half we came out and played much, much better. We were
more relaxed and took control of the game.

'It wasn't a game with a lot of great
chances. At Crawley earlier in the competition, we were 2-1 down and
won in the last minute, and the Liverpool game was tight. It happens a
lot in cup games.'

Despair: Seb Hines (left) holds his head in his hands as he deflects the ball past Jason Steele to score an own goal

Despair: Seb Hines (left) holds his head in his hands as he deflects the ball past Jason Steele to score an own goal

Not without a fight: The Championship side pushed their Premier League opponents all the way at Liberty Stadium

Not without a fight: The Championship side pushed their Premier League opponents all the way at Liberty Stadium

Swansea resume league business with a
trip to Tottenham on Sunday, but they can head to north London elated
at securing a first semi-final appearance in a major cup competition
since 1964.

Laudrup added: 'It's fantastic to reach a semi-final.

'I asked all the players before the game if any of them had played in a cup final, and no-one had.

'When you are three games from a final you get tense, and that is what we saw tonight.

'Everyone can be proud we are in the
semi-finals, but when you are there you want to go the next step and be
in the final. Whoever we play next, it will be very special.'

Middlesbrough went close a few times but couldn't find a breakthrough

Middlesbrough went close a few times but couldn't find a breakthrough

Middlesbrough must now pick
themselves up for Saturday's home clash against Wolves, but they will
only have one full day of preparation after a 320-mile journey home from
south Wales.

'Cup competitions are about getting through to the next round, and we didn't manage that,” Boro boss Tony Mowbray said.

'It was a tough game, fine margins. I
could easily be sitting here having won 1-0, or having lost 1-0. Credit
to them. They are in the semi-finals of the cup and good luck to them.

'We gave a decent account of ourselves. It was a game we could have won. I don't think there was any time when they cut us open.

'I think the team can take some heart
that if we can get out of this division we are in, we can come into the
Premier League and be positive.

'There is no respite for us, really.
We will try to do a session in the morning before travelling back, then
we have one day's preparation and go again against Wolves, who were
obviously a Premier League side last year.

'It's a big ask, but we keep going.'

Martin Samuel: Has Platini just torpedoed European Football with his 2020 vision?

Has Platini just torpedoed European Football with his 2020 vision

|

UPDATED:

23:12 GMT, 6 December 2012

It is not a grand plan. That’s the first thing you need to know. Michel Platini’s scheme to hawk the 2020 European Championship around the continent, a nomadic mish-mash of flights and fixtures, is not some brilliant idea he has spent years fine-tuning.

He couldn’t keep his mouth shut. That was the problem. The president torpedoed UEFA’s own bidding process for 2020 and was left with two choices: a co-hosting arrangement between Georgia and Azerbaijan, or potentially playing second fiddle to the Olympics in Turkey. Nobody else wanted to know.

So, UEFA’s executive committee developed a brilliant alternative with Platini’s guidance: a Euro for Europe.

All aboard: Michel Platini's bold vision for Euro 2020 has fired a torpedo into the heart of European Football

All aboard: Michel Platini's bold vision for Euro 2020 has fired a torpedo into the heart of European Football

Matches across the continent, fans scurrying from one country to the next at huge expense. How far, who knows Locations We’ll get back to you. A blueprint Now, where did I put that fag packet

The bidding to host the 2020 European Championship opened on March 21 with a final decision expected later next year or in early 2014.

So, plenty of time for executives to consider the available options, visit the sites, study infrastructure issues and factor in the needs of the fans.

Except on March 23, two days after a 20-month bidding process began, Platini announced he would be voting for Turkey. At that point, nine other bidders had shown interest: Germany, Holland, Belgium, Czech Republic/Slovakia, Azerbaijan/Georgia, Serbia/Croatia/Bosnia-Herzegovina, Romania/Bulgaria and Romania/Hungary.

Overnight, enthusiasm evaporated. As other countries did not fancy spending millions on a doomed campaign, host interest quickly dwindled.

Then Platini discovered that Turkey was also bidding to welcome the world to an Olympics in Istanbul in 2020, and were quite well fancied to succeed. Why this was a surprise, who knows

As a leading sports administrator it
shouldn’t really have escaped Platini’s attention that Istanbul had
also tried to host the Games in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. Maybe he
could have recalled the location of the 2005 Champions League final: the
Olympic Stadium, Istanbul.

Something funny going on: If only Platini hadn't let slip he'd vote for Turkey ...

Something funny going on: If only Platini hadn't let slip he'd vote for Turkey …

That Turkey’s constitution incorporates part of the Olympic charter was a sign they were keen on the idea, too.

Indeed, in accepting Istanbul’s candidacy, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge announced that only the Olympic aim, not the 2020 European Championship bid, had official backing from the Turkish government.

From that point, Platini’s baby was in trouble. The host application process closed on May 15. Panicking, with so few takers, Platini extended it.

No doubt he has spent the last six months trying to drum up interest, without success. Yesterday’s decision was the act of a desperate man.

That only Turkey opposed the scheme shows how spectacularly he has undermined the host process.

This Euro for Europe is said to be a
one-off. If it were a good idea, it would have been announced as a
permanent arrangement. It is a stopgap, a fudge, a face-saving exercise
for a clown who is on the brink of ruining what many regarded as the
greatest football tournament, better even than the Champions League or
World Cup.

Indeed if this were all a mad wager, a drunken bet struck after a night on the hard stuff, it would just about make sense.

Spanish style: The 2012 champions faced challenges in almost every game, something unlikely to happen when the tournament expands for France 2016

Spanish style: The 2012 champions faced challenges in almost every game, something unlikely to happen when the tournament expands for France 2016

Spanish style: The 2012 champions faced challenges in almost every game, something unlikely to happen when the tournament expands for France 2016

Platini meets a fan raving about the 16-team European Championship finals. Loving its intensity, its high standard, the immediacy of its challenge. It is bomb-proof, he says. Nobody, not even a complete idiot, could make it fail. Platini slams €10 on the counter, and eyes him blearily. ‘Wanna bet’ he says.

And here he comes now, riding a giant missile like Major Kong in the film Dr Strangelove into a tournament that was practically perfect before he arrived.

The next European Championship, in France in 2016, will be the first held to the format that is Platini’s other grand design: 24 qualified teams.

We all know the problem here. What made the old European Championship, the one that breathed its last in Kiev on July 1 with a magical performance from Spain, so wonderful was its streamlined quality. Every team was useful, each opponent a threat. Competitors hit the ground running, or were eliminated trying.

This summer, the first round of matches pitted England against France, Germany against Portugal and Spain against Italy. When Platini spoke of his expanded competition he flagged up names like Norway and Scotland as if these nations would be a positive addition.

Already, there are problems selling the television rights for the qualification process, because when almost half of Europe makes it through to the finals, the number of dead rubbers and pedestrian contests between nations whose route is as good as guaranteed will increase.

Steve McClaren’s woeful England would almost certainly have made it to the finals had the 2008 tournament featured 24 teams, meaning the Wembley loss to Croatia would have been met with a shrug.

Spare a thought: The 2020 format means more airports, more queues and greater expense for fans

Spare a thought: The 2020 format means more airports, more queues and greater expense for fans

Spare a thought: The 2020 format means more airports, more queues and greater expense for fans

There will be a lot of shrugging in 2016; probably until the competition eliminates eight of its 24 qualifiers — yes, it will be harder to get knocked out than go through — and so of the old urgency returns.

At least in 2016, though, fans will navigate one country, with a decent road and rail network, making for coherent travel plans. Add another four years and who knows where everyone will be. If it’s Tuesday it might be Reykjavik, Wednesday Rotterdam, Thursday Manchester, Friday Madrid.

There will be no sense of being at the hub of the action, just a long list of trains, boats and planes. Soulless airport lounges and dashes to the next destination.

Platini thinks the fans can exist on a diet of cheap flights and cheaper hotels, not that he will be in the bundle for boarding at Stansted too often.

Wherever the matches end up, you can guarantee Platini will be travelling in the style to which he is accustomed, untouched by his own lunacy or by the rotten idea generator that passes for insight in the offices of UEFA.

‘Some important decisions have been taken,’ said general secretary Gianni Infantino. Indeed they have. UEFA have decided you don’t matter; they have decided to sweep up the president’s mess yet again; and they have decided to ruin another edition of what was the greatest football tournament of them all. What wonderful decision- makers they are.

Wouldn’t it be amusing if the fans decided to leave them alone in the easyJet queue, to sit this one out by themselves

Manchester United and City posters ahead of the derby

Welcome to Manchester's new poster boys! Ahead of Sunday's big derby, check out this brilliant collection… and see how they have immortalised Maradona, Pele, Messi and Ronaldo

PUBLISHED:

11:11 GMT, 6 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

14:56 GMT, 6 December 2012

Sunday's derby between Manchester United and City brings together some of the world's best players on the same pitch – Robin van Persie and Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and David Silva to name just a few.

And in the build-up to the title tussle at the Eithad Stadium, Sportsmail is showcasing these superb pieces of art that celebrate those involved in the big match.

Van Persie, Rooney, Tevez and Silva are among the Manchester stars immortalised in these stunning pieces from Bosnian designer Zoran Lucic.

He doesn't stop at Manchester, however. Lucic has also designed posters for the game's greatest names – and you can see the best of them below.

Lucic's series – Sucker for Soccer – will form part of an exhibition called Fantasista to be held in London next year. Click here for more details.

Robin van Persie

David Silva

Head to head: Robin van Persie and David Silva will square up in Sunday's derby at the Etihad Stadium

Carlos Tevez

Wayne Rooney

Friends reunited: Carlos Tevez (left) and Wayne Rooney once played together in red… but these days they line up on opposing sides

Safe hands: Joe Hart, one of the world's best goalkeepers, will line up for City on Sunday

Safe hands: Joe Hart, one of the world's best goalkeepers, will line up for City on Sunday

Nemanja Vidic

Ryan Giggs

Red legends: Nemanja Vidic (left) and Ryan Giggs have both experienced plenty of Manchester derbies during their years at United

HERE'S SOME UNITED LEGENDS IMMORTALISED BY THE ARTIST…

Eric Cantona

Roy Keane

Red Devils: Eric Cantona (left) and Roy Keane both captained United under Sir Alex Ferguson

Duncan Edwards

Dennis Viollet

Heroes: Duncan Edwards (left) and Dennis Viollet are also part of the United legends depicted in the series

Denis Law

Bryan Robson

Stars of the show: Denis Law (left) and Bryan Robson

Bobby Charlton

George Best

Busby Babes: Sir Bobby Charlton (left) and George Best are two of Manchester United's greatest ever players

AND HERE'S SOME OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST PLAYERS ON SHOW…

Ronaldo

Pele

Diego Maradona

Zinedine Zidane

Ferenc Puskas

Johan Cruyff

Romario

Gerd Muller

Dennis Bergkamp

Write caption here

MESSI AND RONALDO ARE BATTLING FOR BALLON D'OR… BUT WHO'S GOT THE BEST POSTER

Lionel Messi

Cristiano Ronaldo

Write caption here

Gareth Bale should have been sent off for reaction to diving at Fulham – Graham Poll

Bale is not yet in Ronaldo's class (for diving) but he should have been sent off at Fulham

|

UPDATED:

08:21 GMT, 3 December 2012

Gareth Bale is unquestionably a brilliant player. He is a superb athlete who makes and scores goals for Tottenham and Wales.

As a result he is understandably a marked man – but by opponents or referees

His fourth caution for simulation in two seasons makes him the worst offender in the eyes of referees but his manager claims he is being unfairly victimised as his reputation is going before him.

Sarcastic: Gareth Bale was booked for diving against Fulham

Sarcastic: Gareth Bale was booked for diving against Fulham

More from Graham Poll…

Graham Poll: Sportsmail's expert guide to the referees in charge of this weekend's big games
30/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the referees in charge of the big midweek games
27/11/12

Graham Poll: Foy should know there are consequences for ignoring dissent… just ask Bernie Angell
25/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the refs in charge for this weekend's big games
23/11/12

Graham Poll: Throw the book at Chelsea after false Clattenburg claim
22/11/12

Graham Poll: Adebayor had to go, but 'Jekyll and Hyde' Suarez should also have seen red
18/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the refs in charge for this weekend's big games
16/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the refs in charge for this weekend's big games
09/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

I was called by a Spurs fan who claimed
that Bale’s caution for diving on Saturday at Fulham was a scandalous
decision. I watched the highlights with interest.

Irrespective of whether you think the decision right or wrong, I think all would have to agree that at the pace it was played and the amount of contact with the opponent being questionable, it was a very difficult decision.

Andre Villas-Boas raised a fair and valid point when he said that Bale has suffered a lot of injuries and often tries to avoid contact as the pace he plays at leaves him susceptible to knocks even after slight contact. It is also very difficult for him to keep his balance at such electrifying pace.

Referees will be looking for unnatural falls and the way Bale goes down is dramatic and often not consistent with the amount of contact.

There are obvious comparisons with former Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo, who in his early days at Old Trafford also used to hit the turf on a regular basis.

Having refereed both, I have to say that they are different players at different points in their careers. Ronaldo was new to English football, having come from Portugal where players going to ground is an accepted practise – he thought that was right. Bale understands the Premier League and the expectations within it.

Referees need to study the DVDs of Bale very closely and think about their approach towards him. Why, for example, would he dive in a neutral position in midfield

Tumble king: Cristiano Ronaldo, now at Real Madrid, used to hit the turf with regularity while at Man United

Tumble king: Cristiano Ronaldo, now at Real Madrid, used to hit the turf with regularity while at Man United

Could it be that he is wary of getting
injured and is pulling out of challenges – not to ‘con’ the referee into
giving a free-kick, but to avoid injury

Is he appealing for the free-kick or just getting up and on with the game After all, when a referee is unsure there is nothing wrong with playing on in such a situation.

Perhaps a meeting between a senior referee and Bale and his manager would help each other see the opposing viewpoint. At that meeting, I would hope that the referee’s side would point out that whatever the decision, Bale should not applaud sarcastically as he did on Saturday. That should have resulted in his dismissal for a second caution.

Good week for… Mark Clattenburg

He made a brilliant and vital decision at the Emirates on Saturday. As Oliver Giroud appeared to go clean through, Chico Flores made a great tackle and clipped the ball away from the Frenchman, who then went to ground. Without seeing the contact, Clattenburg would have had to give a free-kick and send Flores off. His communication was excellent and explained the reasons for his decision clearly.

Good week: Mark Clattenburg had a tricky call to make and acted appropriately

Good week: Mark Clattenburg had a tricky call to make and acted appropriately

Bad week for… Platini and co (again!)

A pulsating first half at Reading was almost spoiled because there is still no goal-line technology in place. Robin van Persie ‘scored’ Manchester United’s fifth goal of a crazy half but it was not given due to the pace of the ball. There’s no blame on the assistant or referee because it is almost impossible to say for CERTAIN when watching live that the ball was over the line. It ‘probably’ was or ‘I think it was’ is not enough. When will this crazy situation be resolved

Gareth Bale should have been sent off – Graham Poll

Bale is not yet in Ronaldo's class (for diving) but he should have been sent off at Fulham

|

UPDATED:

23:01 GMT, 2 December 2012

Gareth Bale is unquestionably a brilliant player. He is a superb athlete who makes and scores goals for Tottenham and Wales.

As a result he is understandably a marked man – but by opponents or referees

His fourth caution for simulation in two seasons makes him the worst offender in the eyes of referees but his manager claims he is being unfairly victimised as his reputation is going before him.

Sarcastic: Gareth Bale was booked for diving against Fulham

Sarcastic: Gareth Bale was booked for diving against Fulham

More from Graham Poll…

Graham Poll: Sportsmail's expert guide to the referees in charge of this weekend's big games
30/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the referees in charge of the big midweek games
27/11/12

Graham Poll: Foy should know there are consequences for ignoring dissent… just ask Bernie Angell
25/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the refs in charge for this weekend's big games
23/11/12

Graham Poll: Throw the book at Chelsea after false Clattenburg claim
22/11/12

Graham Poll: Adebayor had to go, but 'Jekyll and Hyde' Suarez should also have seen red
18/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the refs in charge for this weekend's big games
16/11/12

Sportsmail's expert guide to the refs in charge for this weekend's big games
09/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

I was called by a Spurs fan who claimed
that Bale’s caution for diving on Saturday at Fulham was a scandalous
decision. I watched the highlights with interest.

Irrespective of whether you think the decision right or wrong, I think all would have to agree that at the pace it was played and the amount of contact with the opponent being questionable, it was a very difficult decision.

Andre Villas-Boas raised a fair and valid point when he said that Bale has suffered a lot of injuries and often tries to avoid contact as the pace he plays at leaves him susceptible to knocks even after slight contact. It is also very difficult for him to keep his balance at such electrifying pace.

Referees will be looking for unnatural falls and the way Bale goes down is dramatic and often not consistent with the amount of contact.

There are obvious comparisons with former Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo, who in his early days at Old Trafford also used to hit the turf on a regular basis.

Having refereed both, I have to say that they are different players at different points in their careers. Ronaldo was new to English football, having come from Portugal where players going to ground is an accepted practise – he thought that was right. Bale understands the Premier League and the expectations within it.

Referees need to study the DVDs of Bale very closely and think about their approach towards him. Why, for example, would he dive in a neutral position in midfield

Tumble king: Cristiano Ronaldo, now at Real Madrid, used to hit the turf with regularity while at Man United

Tumble king: Cristiano Ronaldo, now at Real Madrid, used to hit the turf with regularity while at Man United

Could it be that he is wary of getting
injured and is pulling out of challenges – not to ‘con’ the referee into
giving a free-kick, but to avoid injury

Is he appealing for the free-kick or just getting up and on with the game After all, when a referee is unsure there is nothing wrong with playing on in such a situation.

Perhaps a meeting between a senior referee and Bale and his manager would help each other see the opposing viewpoint. At that meeting, I would hope that the referee’s side would point out that whatever the decision, Bale should not applaud sarcastically as he did on Saturday. That should have resulted in his dismissal for a second caution.

Good week for… Mark Clattenburg

He made a brilliant and vital decision at the Emirates on Saturday. As Oliver Giroud appeared to go clean through, Chico Flores made a great tackle and clipped the ball away from the Frenchman, who then went to ground. Without seeing the contact, Clattenburg would have had to give a free-kick and send Flores off. His communication was excellent and explained the reasons for his decision clearly.

Good week: Mark Clattenburg had a tricky call to make and acted appropriately

Good week: Mark Clattenburg had a tricky call to make and acted appropriately

Bad week for… Platini and co (again!)

A pulsating first half at Reading was almost spoiled because there is still no goal-line technology in place. Robin van Persie ‘scored’ Manchester United’s fifth goal of a crazy half but it was not given due to the pace of the ball. There’s no blame on the assistant or referee because it is almost impossible to say for CERTAIN when watching live that the ball was over the line. It ‘probably’ was or ‘I think it was’ is not enough. When will this crazy situation be resolved

John Fashanu: MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon should get along

Fashanu: I understand the emotions, but let's have some peace and love in the FA Cup

|

UPDATED:

20:50 GMT, 1 December 2012

Wimbledon legend John Fashanu has
called for 'peace and love' to break out between bitter rivals MK Dons
and AFC Wimbledon at their FA Cup second-round tie.

Fashanu, a key member of Wimbledon's
FA Cup-winning side in 1988, has defended the existence of MK Dons, a
team dubbed Franchise FC by many Wimbledon fans who accuse them of
'stealing' their old club when, in an unprecedented move in English
football, they were relocated to Milton Keynes and renamed nine years
ago.

Existing fans formed AFC Wimbledon as
a non-League club in 2002 and, while some will boycott the tie
altogether, others will attend the game in contamination suits to
underline their continuing contempt for Milton Keynes, who incorporated
the original 'Dons' nickname into their official name.

Different times: Wimbledon players celebrate their incredible 1988 FA Cup win

Different times: Wimbledon players celebrate their incredible 1988 FA Cup win

AFC's directors will keep away from the MK boardroom, while MK manager Karl Robinson said his scouts have been asked not to attend AFC home games in the build-up to the match.

Yet against this highly charged backdrop, Fashanu has admitted he embraces both clubs and defended his long-time chairman Sam Hammam, who sold Wimbledon to Pete Winkelman, who then moved them 60 miles north.

'I have to tread very carefully because I love the Dons and I love AFC Wimbledon,' said Fashanu. 'If AFC can beat MK it will be hard to know whether to laugh or cry. It's going to be so emotional for anyone and everyone connected to the Crazy Gang.

Legend: John Fashanu in action for Wimbledon

Legend: John Fashanu in action for Wimbledon

'All I hope is that we get to see a brilliant game and that afterwards, no matter who has won or lost, that there might be some peace and love between both clubs.

'MK Dons have a right to be where they are. Hard as it might be for some to stomach, Sam Hammam did what was necessary. He couldn't go any further in Wimbledon, he had hit a brick wall. This was the man who spent millions of his own money to keep Wimbledon going. He bankrolled the club and paid everyone huge salaries given the crowds we used to get.

'Wimbledon were a family club with unity and love for each other. That never changed for me even when they became the MK Dons. I'd never tell the fans what they should do or whether they should boycott the game. Only the individual can make that call. It's understandable people feel this way but it's also a huge shame.'

Fashanu, 50, will watch the contest on television in Nigeria, where he now works in business.

'It is a juggernaut of a tie. They have so much in common and, despite all the problems, will forever be linked in history,' said Fashanu, who will open a 50million football academy in London next weekend. 'It's going to be explosive.'

AFC Wimbledon are currently managed by former player Neal Ardley and now play their football only one division behind League One MK Dons after five promotions in nine seasons.

Much maligned: Former Wimbledon chairman Sam Hammam

Much maligned: Former Wimbledon chairman Sam Hammam

Former Wimbledon director and lifelong fan Peter Miller, who grew up in a flat overlooking the club's original ground at Plough Lane, says those AFC supporters who attend will boycott any supplementary spending on food, drinks, merchandising or programmes.

'I will be there but many who have travelled the length and breadth of the country are boycotting the game,' said Miller. 'A few won't even watch it on television and even the directors are split.

'Such is the resentment against everything the MK Dons represents that our supporters have been asked not to put money into their coffers by buying programmes or using any of their food stalls.'

What's in a name: The MK Dons' stadium

What's in a name: The MK Dons' stadium

Pete Winkelman, the MK Dons chairman, has admitted that he is 'not proud' of the way football came to Milton Keynes, having done the original deal, built the new stadium and developed the surrounding land.

But he insisted the club would not relinquish their 'Dons' name.

'I do understand that on this special occasion, this historic occasion, this first meeting, that AFC Wimbledon officials would rather sit with their own supporters,' he said. 'If there is a replay, I will do the same.

'But I was disappointed to hear about the boycott, I hope that doesn't happen. Boycotting your team or leaving your team alone is perhaps the worst way of voicing your disapproval of what went on.

On the up: AFC Wimbledon celebrate promotion from the Blue Square Premier League

On the up: AFC Wimbledon celebrate promotion from the Blue Square Premier League

'I've been very clear about this. I'm a custodian of the club and the only way our name could ever change is if our supporters demanded it. I take responsibility for the club getting here, but now it's here it's actually the responsibility of all of us. And I think it's incredibly clear, and clear in every conversation I have, that we are the MK Dons, we're going to stay the MK Dons, and in the future we're going to be the MK Dons.'

Although there is a tradition for sports clubs to change location for business reasons in America, the story of the Dons remains unique in English football.

Former player Wally Downes, now assistant manager at West Ham, said: 'I am not looking forward to the game. It's AFC Wimbledon against Franchise FC. MK Dons are in a position they didn't earn, they didn't even inherit it, they just bought it. Of the two teams, one is a proper football club and one is a fraud club. I can see why AFC fans would boycott the game.'