Tag Archives: centurion

Arsene Wenger expects Jack Wilshere to become an England centurion

Bale is the flavour of the month… But Wilshere will be an England centurion, claims Wenger

By
Jim Van Wijk, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

22:50 GMT, 2 March 2013

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UPDATED:

09:40 GMT, 3 March 2013

No pressure: Jack Wilshere is expected to win 100 caps, according to Wenger

No pressure: Jack Wilshere is expected to win 100 caps, according to Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is in no doubt midfielder Jack Wilshere can outlast the hype and go on to earn a century of caps for England.

Wilshere, 21, returned from more than a year out injured in October, but is already being heralded as an integral part of the future hopes of both club and country.

Arsenal head to Tottenham on Sunday, where they will come up against in-form Welshman Gareth Bale, who has drawn comparisons with Europe's best after his match-winning performances this season.

Wenger believes his own talented midfielder has everything ahead of him.

'Bale is the flavour of the moment. When you look at Wilshere, who will deny that this guy will get 100 caps for England Nobody, if he has no injury,' said Wenger.

'My worry is not to compare Wilshere with anyone else. My only worry when you are a footballer player of that talent is to become as good as you can become.

'That is the only thing that is of interest to me. I leave the comparisons to other people. My job is to get the best out of him.'

Talking a good game: Wenger (left) and Wilshere (right)

Talking a good game: Wenger (left) and Wilshere (right)

Wenger feels it is sometimes overlooked just how much Wilshere has achieved since arriving at the club aged nine.

'You tend to forget how old he is when you see him play. You never come out of a game and think 'this guy is 21 years old'. He's at a stage where the others have not started,' said Wenger.

'You think of Jack (as) an established player in the Premier League and at international level, that is still something special.'

Wenger feels Wilshere will develop into Arsenal's natural leader. He continued: 'Jack breathes football. He doesn't talk too much, but he understands everything.

On the run: Wilshere (right) takes on Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger

On the run: Wilshere (right) takes on Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger

'What he has exceeded is the speed of his physical fitness in the game. Honestly, I never expected that.'

Wilshere has yet to score in the Premier League this season, but Wenger feels that the goals will soon come.

'I believe it's part of his development to play a bit more advanced,” the Arsenal boss said.

'In some games, he is more comfortable deeper. I believe he has a little dribble that can get him through in the final third and the finishing will come.

'He's a bit in a situation like (Cesc) Fabregas was for a while. He said to me “but I cannot score goals', however you could see that it would come.

'Jack doesn't talk about it, but who doesn't want to score goals He is more a team player than a goalscorer.

'He will never be a goalscorer, but he can be capable to score.'

Arsenal head across north London defending a five-match unbeaten run, with three victories on the bounce, as they look to move back to just one point behind their rivals.

Wenger accepts there are no longer any margins for error if his team at to secure another top-four finish.

'It is still open, but I am realistic and we cannot drop points,' he said.

'One or two of the other teams will always win over the weekend. If we drop points we can fall quickly behind.

'So there are two things we cannot do – drop points and also speculate over the weaknesses of our opponents because that can be deadly as well.'

England v India report: Alastair Cook and Graeme Swann spoil great day for MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli

England had 99 problems then captain Cook struck! Dhoni just misses out on century as stunning run out helps tourists maintain slender advantage

By
David Clough, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

11:14 GMT, 15 December 2012

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UPDATED:

15:07 GMT, 15 December 2012

A last hour featuring four wickets helped England avoid an unwanted shut-out on day three of a finely-balanced final Test in Nagpur.

The tourists had toiled for 75 wicketless overs as India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and centurion Virat Kohli closed them down with some ease, but both had gone by the time stumps was called, along with Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla, giving England a greater belief that they can now secure at least the draw they need to win the series.

That landscape switch came after Dhoni (99) and Kohli (103) had taken it upon themselves to radically alter the equation themselves.

The fifth-wicket pair resumed on a
highly-vulnerable 87, yet by stumps their stand of 198 had underpinned
India's 297 for eight in reply to 330 all out.

England simply got nowhere for all but
the final hour of the day, on a dead pitch which has proved an aid to
stagnant cricket from the outset.

Until the first ball after evening
drinks, their bowlers – last previously successful nine overs before the
close yesterday – appeared destined to draw a blank for the entire day,
for the first time since Australia's Mark Taylor and Geoff Marsh
tormented the home attack at Trent Bridge 23 years ago.

Respite came at last when Graeme Swann
had Kohli lbw pushing forward in defence – and among four late wickets
for only 28 runs, Dhoni was run out by a direct hit from Cook at mid-off
as he tried to scamper his 100th run off Anderson (four for 68) in the
penultimate over before stumps.

Eyes on the prize: A brilliant late run out from Alastair Cook helped England maintain an advantage

Eyes on the prize: A brilliant late run out from Alastair Cook helped England maintain an advantage

Top partnership: Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli were in sensational form

Top partnership: Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli were in sensational form

Dhoni and Kohli were constrained, as were England's batsmen and India's top order before them, by the extreme conditions.

A perilous situation added to their
dilemma too; yet they dug in, and then branched out, faultless
application giving way to increasing fluency as India battled back into
contention.

Gradually, without compromising risk
avoidance, they pushed the run rate above two-an-over as England tired
in their thankless task to try to induce a mistake.

Dhoni, without a Test century for more
than a year, raised eyebrows when he promoted himself to number six
last night above debutant all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.

Tough: Graeme Swann and England's bowlers had to contend with a difficult pitch

Tough: Graeme Swann and England's bowlers had to contend with a difficult pitch

Frontline batsman Kohli had a top-score of 20 in six previous innings in this series.

But both excelled themselves here in critical circumstances.

Kohli completed his 289-ball hundred with his 11th four, on the back foot past cover off Swann.

Soon afterwards, the off-spinner finally got his revenge, as India nonetheless edged towards parity.

It had taken more than half an hour
for their first boundary off the middle this morning, a Kohli
cover-drive off Tim Bresnan to bring up three figures.

Before then, only Dhoni's edge past a vacant slip off James Anderson had counted four.

Anderson beat the bat or found the
edge a handful of times in his early spell, but there was nothing else
from pace or spin to raise England's hopes.

Each batsman passed his 50 with a four, Kohli's fourth driven off Monty Panesar and Dhoni's seventh square-cut off Bresnan.

They were rare shots in anger until after England took the second new ball.

The century stand arrived in 53 overs as India had to emphasise caution over adventure before they could dare to hope for more.

Runs eventually started to come more
freely, however – Dhoni hoisted Swann over long-on for a six, and took
toll of Bresnan in particular – and England's initial optimism turned to
frowns of frustration.

The nearest they came to a
breakthrough before tea were Bresnan's two lbw appeals, and a tough
one-handed return chance barely off the ground – all with Dhoni on 72 –
as the Yorkshireman's search continued for a first Test wicket since
August at Headingley.

By stumps, he was wicketless in his last 74.4 overs at the highest level.

England's collective drought was even longer, of course, until Kohli succumbed.

Anderson then also had Jadeja lbw from
round the wicket. and Swann bowled Piyush when he found sharp turn with
the last ball of the day.

It had seemed near inconceivable at start of play that India could somehow negotiate their way towards a series-levelling win.

Whether or not that is possible will
depend on how long it takes England to take their last two wickets, and
how many India can score at the same time.

Two quick wickets and a day at the
crease would put England in firm charge, but an Indian slog in the
morning and poor application from the tourists could see it swing the
other way.

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.

India v England second Test: Monty Panesar and Cheteshwar Pujara shine in Mumbai

Monty rips into India batsmen but England can't shift centurion Pujara yet again as hosts fight back on turning pitch in Mumbai

|

UPDATED:

11:32 GMT, 23 November 2012

Monty Panesar marked his Test return with four wickets but could find no way past Cheteshwar Pujara as the tireless India No 3 once again confounded England.

Without Pujara (114no), augmenting the unbeaten double-century he made in India's nine-wicket first Test victory, England would surely have bowled their hosts out cheaply on day one of the second at the Wankhede Stadium.

He survived while the rest of the top six faltered against Panesar (four for 94) on a spinners' pitch, and then shared consecutive 50 stands with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin (60no) to turn a vulnerable 119 for five into 266 for six by stumps.

The exact merit of that total will not be clear until England's batsmen have tried their hand on a surface sure to provide plenty of assistance for India's three specialist spinners.

But it was hard to escape the impression that Pujara had put India above par in a match likely to hurry to a conclusion inside the scheduled five days.

Spin king: Monty Panesar (left) ripped through India's top order on day one

Spin king: Monty Panesar (left) ripped through India's top order on day one

As in his tour de force 206 not out in
Ahmedabad last week, he appeared in control throughout on the way to a
near five-and-a-half hour century completed with a hook for his ninth
four in James Anderson's first over with the second new ball.

Panesar, back for his first Test in
eight months after a clamour for his inclusion here, bagged the prize
wickets of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar.

In his 100th Test, opener Sehwag
managed 30, and the great Tendulkar – perhaps playing on his home ground
at the highest level for the last time – just eight.

Anderson gave the tourists a near perfect start, in the first over of the match after India had won the toss.

Gautam Gambhir clipped him through
midwicket for four first ball, but England's premier pace bowler swung
the next past bat on to pad to win an lbw.

Alastair Cook took Anderson off after just three overs, however, and gave Panesar an early bowl.

England's slow left-armer began with a
nervy full-toss, which Sehwag duly clubbed wide of mid-on for four in
an over costing nine runs.

But his next was a maiden to Sehwag, and soon he got his man.

It was not prodigious turn that did
the trick, Panesar tending to operate at a full length and defeating
Sehwag in flight to bowl him off-stump off his pads as the batsman tried
to push to leg.

Scalps: Panesar took the prized wickets of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar

Scalps: Panesar took the prized wickets of Sehwag, Tendulkar and Dhoni

Tendulkar also lost his off-stump to
Panesar, but this time it was a perfectly-pitched delivery on middle and
leg that tempted the master batsman to aim towards mid-on and turned
enough to beat the slightly-closed face of the bat.

Pujara was just getting started, and Virat Kohli tried to follow his studied example.

But after taking more than an hour
either side of lunch to reach 19, the number five was not quite to the
pitch driving Panesar – and as the ball gripped again, he pushed a catch
low to cover.

Cook immediately reintroduced Graeme
Swann to bowl at left-hander Yuvraj Singh, and the ploy worked with an
off-break which beat the new batsman on the backward defence and
disturbed off-stump again.

Soon after Yuvraj's second-ball duck,
Pujara escaped a half-chance on 60 when Anderson could not cling on
one-handed diving low to his left at second slip off Panesar.

But he and Dhoni added exactly 50
until the captain was neatly caught low down at gully by Swann when
Panesar got one to leap and turn.

Form of his life: Cheteshwar Pujara hit his second century of the series in Mumbai

Form of his life: Cheteshwar Pujara hit his second century of the series in Mumbai

Pujara adjusted his own tempo once new
partner Ashwin revealed a counter-attacking instinct in his 67-ball 50
as Stuart Broad, off colour and missing from practice yesterday, leaked
runs just when England could least afford him to.

They were arguably unfortunate not to
dismiss Pujara in fluke circumstances on 94, when a pull at Swann
appeared to loop up off Cook's boot at short-leg into the hands of
midwicket.

The umpires interpreted ball first hitting ground from video replay evidence.

It would have been an ironic way for England to get Pujara out at last for the first time in the series.

Instead, at the close, they were still
searching for a way to dismiss him – after 719 balls, more than 15
hours and counting so far.

Martin Samuel: Premier League"s greedy owners the only winners

Greedy owners the only winners if you curb these players' wages

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UPDATED:

23:30 GMT, 18 November 2012

Nobody has ever bought a ticket to watch a bloke in a suit balance the books. Not that it wouldn’t be interesting.

Whoever managed to juggle Chelsea’s numbers so they bought the best part of a new team and still turned a 1.4million profit over the last financial year On paper, that must have been one hell of a show.

Same with the Arsenal board meeting in which chief executive Ivan Gazidis explained why he was worth a 24 per cent pay rise for selling Arsene Wenger’s captain at the end of every season. Now there is a world-class performer at the top of his game.

They're not here for you, Arsene: Ivan Gazidis and his equivalents across the land bring in the big bucks

They're not here for you, Arsene: Ivan Gazidis and his equivalents across the land bring in the big bucks

More from Martin Samuel…

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18/11/12

Martin Samuel: Double centurion Pujara is the new great Wall of India
16/11/12

Martin Samuel: Mental agility was the real skill as Ibrahimovic stunned England
15/11/12

Cutting aid to India Glad I'm not you, Justine
15/11/12

Martin Samuel: Little Master can bow out on his own terms
15/11/12

Martin Samuel: Mark Hughes was once tipped to follow Sir Alex into the United hotseat but now he's in a fight he can't afford to lose
13/11/12

Martin Samuel: Remember, sport isn't a special case when we honour our heroes
11/11/12

It shouldn't be taxing to make fairness work
08/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Sadly, the fans don’t agree. Players. That’s what they like. How quaintly retro of them. They don’t get that football’s modern world is all about leveraging the brand and maximising revenue streams, economic reality and financial fair play.

A paying fan wouldn’t have written the newspaper headline that described Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy as a genius at the weekend. Gareth Bale against Inter Milan two seasons ago. That was genius.

So when the Premier League chairmen sat down last week to consider next season’s 5billion television windfall, they wanted to prioritise the people who really deserved it.

Them.

Not players. Good lord, not sweaty old players. Having built the self-styled greatest league in the world on the talent of men such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, the owners have decided enough is enough.

They fear players will recognise some correlation between increased TV revenue and the stars the people are tuning in to watch. How presumptuous.

It would be like David Letterman thinking that what made the David Letterman Show special was David Letterman, and asking to be paid accordingly. Get real, Dave. Do you seriously think they’re watching it for you

Chairmen aren’t brave enough to explain this leap in logic to the players’ representatives. So what they will do is hide behind new rules.

We’d like to give you the money, they will say, but we can’t, you see. It’s the law. If it was up to us, well of course. There’s nothing we’d enjoy more than sharing our bounty with your client. But our hands are tied. We can’t even invest any of our own money these days. It’s just not allowed. Damn these rules. Damn these silly, silly rules. I don’t know why we voted for them.

Worth a pay rise Player of the year candidates Robin van Persie and Juan Mata wont get a cut of TV cash

Worth a pay rise Player of the year candidates Robin van Persie and Juan Mata wont get a cut of TV cash

Worth a pay rise Player of the year candidates Robin van Persie and Juan Mata won’t get a cut of TV cash

So who reaps the dividend Not you, that’s for certain. To date, there is no record of an owner saying he will use the double whammy of proposed spending restrictions and hugely increased revenue to suppress admission charges, cut prices in the club shop or end the tyranny of the new strip released every year. You still pay. They now don’t.

There are some very clever operators behind this, and a fair few dopes, too. The shrewd cookies are the elite clubs who have worked out that, far from benefiting all grades of the game, those at the top stand to profit greatly if spending is linked to income.

An existing club in the Champions League will have at least 30m more than a rival whose ambition it is to enter the top four.

It is no surprise that Manchester United and Arsenal are driving this proposal: the biggest grounds, the most consistent Champions League performers, they are as good as enshrining their right to have the most to spend.

The dopes would include those supporting the rule change at, for instance, West Ham or Tottenham. Why are clubs that are looking to grow limiting the ability to do so

We don’t want another Portsmouth or Leeds United, the mediocre minds insist. But why are the options competitive torpor or going skint Why can’t a club expand with optimism, ambition and calculated risk, without throwing the lot on red

At last week’s Premier League meeting, 16 of 20 clubs asked chief executive Richard Scudamore to press ahead with detailed proposals for financial restrictions. They can’t be trusted to simply show restraint; it has to be placed upon them by force.

Everyone's invited: As TV money tots up, still the stadiums are filled with expensive tickets

Everyone's invited: As TV money tots up, still the stadiums are filled with expensive tickets

'We are looking at financial fair play rules and introducing them for the good of everyone in the Premier League and for the good of the game,’ said Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins, who would obviously know what was best for the Premier League having been part of it for a mighty 18 months.

The real brains trust proposal comes from Sunderland owner Ellis Short, who wishes to limit annual increases to the wage bill, as a means of depressing salaries. So each club would only be able to increase wages by, say, five per cent each season.

Fine for Manchester United as five per cent of quite a lot is quite a lot more. And fine if you’ve already been throwing money up the wall like Chelsea, as you could continue to do so incrementally.

Yet what of the well-run club that had lived within their means, suddenly experienced a degree of success, and wanted to take a leap forward

Suppose West Bromwich Albion got into Europe and wished to invest in a bigger squad. They would be pegged at growth of five per cent. All Short is proposing is a way of saying ‘no’ to agents without getting into a heated argument.

The alternative is to grow a pair and pay only what you can afford, while respecting the right of all clubs to embrace ascent to the next level.

Resisting all this nonsense, bless them, are Fulham, Everton, West Brom and Manchester City, although Randy Lerner of Aston Villa has serious reservations, too, as do Chelsea, unless they can tailor the proposal to a way that leaves them unaffected.

Reaping rewards: West Brom's break-even model is perhaps the Premier League's most sensible

Reaping rewards: West Brom's break-even model is perhaps the Premier League's most sensible

City and Fulham rely on rich benefactors, while limits on owner investment would make Everton considerably less attractive to potential buyers. West Brom have a break-even model, and a damn good one, but chairman Jeremy Peace simply believes each club should run their business as they see fit. Like grown-ups.

‘It is not trying to restrict teams competing for players,’ said Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. No, it’s just trying to guarantee that, when they do, they’ve got less money than you.

‘We are trying to impose some parameters, so we don’t end up with a lot of clubs making annual and regular losses,’ added the man from the club who are 359.7m in debt, and based in the Cayman Islands.

So if fans aren’t due a rebate and the players don’t deserve a rise, who does

Step forward: Gazidis, Roman Abramovich, the Glazer family, Mike Ashley.

It’s Super Sunday, folks, live from the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers. That’s entertainment.

Overcrowding in the old Globe

Louis Burton, a French sailor competing in the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world yacht race, collided with a trawler 460 miles off the coast of Lisbon.

His accident came a day after compatriot Kito de Pavant was forced to retire after a trawler damaged his boat 80 miles from the Portuguese port of Cascais.

The Vendee Globe is a uniquely challenging event that makes incredible physical and mental demands of its competitors. Even so, not exactly Piccadilly Circus out there, is it

Purple pain

Memo to Stuart Lancaster and all at the RFU: if we can’t play like England’s rugby team, at least try to look like England’s rugby team.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT ITIt's the winning just by taking part

One of the important things in life is to know when you’ve won. The day AFC Wimbledon entered the Football League, having progressed through the pyramid system from their beginnings in the Combined Counties League, they won.

They overcame the idiocy of the Football Association commission that had branded their phoenix club not in the wider interests of football.

More importantly, they exposed the great lie at the heart of Peter Winkelman’s theft of the original Wimbledon. They proved that Milton Keynes could, after all, have earned its League club the legitimate way, with promotion through the many tiers of English football.

The right way: After Peter Winkelman stole their club, AFC Wimbledon rose from the ashes

The right way: After Peter Winkelman stole their club, AFC Wimbledon rose from the ashes

The right way: After Peter Winkelman stole their club, AFC Wimbledon rose from the ashes

Peter Winkelman

Winkelman did not have to steal Wimbledon and spirit it north as Milton Keynes Dons. With investment in Milton Keynes City of the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division, he could have grown his hometown club organically. He could have tried it the proper way, as AFC Wimbledon did.

And Wimbledon are still winning. When they play Milton Keynes Dons, as equals, in the FA Cup second round on December 2, that will be a small victory, too. As is the fact that every neutral fan in the country wants them to overturn big odds and win.

A decade ago, interest was scarce but now everyone seems to know the story of English football’s greatest injustice.

Wimbledon directors are not going into the boardroom at stadiummk, supporters have discussed taking food and printing an independent match programme to avoid giving the club they call Franchise FC money. Others will boycott the tie entirely.

All fine acts of protest. Wimbledon remain unshakeably atop the moral high ground. But they should know when they’ve won. Goodwill is easily surrendered if justified grievance becomes spiteful venom. Foul chants and abuse, collateral damage.

What the FA allowed to happen to their club should never be forgotten; but there are some good people at MK Dons now, too.

Dan Micciche, who runs the academy, is one of the most imaginative youth coaches in the country, and anyone below a certain age in the crowd will simply have grown up supporting the local team, not comprehending their horrible history. They were simply too young to appreciate the controversy surrounding Winkelman’s creation.

What is it boxing referees require A good, clean fight That is what the supporters of AFC Wimbledon must provide next month. Keep it dignified, keep it civilised.

They have considerably more to lose than a Cup tie, if they forget that this was their victory long ago, regardless of the result of a single match.

Not losing may not be enough for Rio, Roy

And very quietly, as we entered the winter hiatus, Montenegro took a two-point lead at the top of World Cup qualification Group H, as expected, by beating San Marino.

England are second on eight points. If Poland win their game in hand, they will have eight points, too.

/11/18/article-2234863-16079D7A000005DC-881_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”Exposed: England are in a fight to secure a place at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014″ class=”blkBorder” />

Exposed: England are in a fight to secure a place at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014

Put like that, trailing Montenegro, having won two games in four and even then only against San Marino and Moldova, doesn’t seem so hot.

Roy Hodgson is still unbeaten in competitive matches but this was always going to be his problem. Being good at not losing only gets a team and a manager so far and cannot be mistaken for winning.

England have gone out of World Cups unbeaten previously; technically, Hodgson was unbeaten at the 2012 European Championship, too.

Nobody is allowed to utter the name Harry Redknapp, because football’s confederation of bogus clever dicks are still pretending that England and Tottenham Hotspur are better off without him (and didn’t they look it on Saturday, when Emmanuel Adebayor got sent off and Andre Villas-Boas looked at his little book of brilliant tactical plans for 20 minutes as Arsenal scored three goals).

But the fact is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick was the least of England’s problems last week.

Second place could bring a play-off against the likes of Israel, Norway or Bulgaria but equally Portugal, Sweden, France or Belgium.

Meanwhile, the troublesome visit to Montenegrin capital Podgorica is two competitive games away. England improve under Hodgson in the second half of this season or their World Cup campaign ails, perhaps fatally.

Roy Hodgson plans England future

Roy has big plans for Smalling as Hodgson plots England's future

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 15 November 2012

Roy Hodgson bid farewell to his England players and will spend the next three months toying with names, combinations and tactical ploys while praying everyone stays fit and in form.

It is the lot of the international manager, all the more so when your pool of elite talent is a little on the shallow side and you’ve already dropped four points in qualification.

Hodgson cannot dare to think he might fail to qualify for the World Cup finals in Brazil in two years’ time and a qualifier against Group H leaders Montenegro in March already looms large.

Ton up: Roy Hodgson with new England centurion Steven Gerrard

Ton up: Roy Hodgson with new England centurion Steven Gerrard

Last year, when England visited the tiny Balkan republic for a Euro 2012 qualifier they managed just a draw after Wayne Rooney was sent off.

A similar outcome will be a serious blow to the current campaign but, after six months in charge, Hodgson reacted with defiance to a 4-2 defeat in Sweden.

‘I’m in a much better position when it comes to assessing players and knowing what I can get out of an England team than I was when I came into the job and straight off to the Euros,’ he said.

‘That was quite a conservative group we took there. If anything, we have become a lot less conservative and I think the players have responded very positively.’

Hodgson has called up 48 different players since taking control in May and has capped all but four.

One to watch: Chris Smalling is highly rated by England boss Hodgson

One to watch: Chris Smalling is highly rated by England boss Hodgson

Of six debutants in Stockholm, he singled out Leon Osman for praise and name-checked Chris Smalling, one of the players he has not been able to select because of injury but who returned for Manchester United last week.

‘There’s a lot of top-class talent coming back,’ said Hodgson. ‘There’s a boy at Manchester United called Smalling, who I’ve always thought is going to be a top-class centre half.’

The mere mention of Smalling, who Hodgson signed from non-League when he was Fulham boss and sold to Manchester United two years later, hints at concerns about central defence.

Smalling is only 22 and has played fewer than 50 games in the Barclays Premier League but the England manager has faith in youngsters, such as 17-year-old Raheem Sterling, who has been described by Steven Gerrard as a ‘phenomenal talent’.

Starlet: Raheem Sterling impressed on his England debut against Swansea

Starlet: Raheem Sterling impressed on his England debut against Swansea

Hodgson added: ‘In the past we seem to have been reliant on a group of players who had to play at all times and there’s not been a lot of support. Now there’s more competition and more help for the Gerrards and Rooneys.’

Rooney missed the Sweden game with an injury but Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s heroics prompted questions of how to coax more from England’s talisman.

‘We know the ability he has,’ said Hodgson. ‘But if he doesn’t have a good game a lot of questions are asked of him. That’s the responsibility he bears. Steven Gerrard has the same responsibility.’

Hodgson will select his next squad for a friendly against Brazil at Wembley in February before qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro, both away.

He has ruled out the idea of playing Sterling and Wilfried Zaha against San Marino in order to pin their futures to England.

Sterling was born in Jamaica and Crystal Palace’s Zaha, 20, was born in the Ivory Coast. Both made their England debut on Wednesday but can still change their minds about their allegiance because the game was a non-competitive friendly.

Steven Gerrard emulates Bobby Moore photo with schoolkids in Liverpool – EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE: On the eve of his 100th cap, Steven Gerrard shares special moment with pupils at his former school — emulating the famous picture of England's iconic captain Bobby Moore

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UPDATED:

22:58 GMT, 12 November 2012

Steven Gerrard was standing in the middle of a tiny school hall when the magnitude of what he was about to achieve struck home.

As he looked around, the memories came flooding back. Gerrard is on the verge of winning his 100th England cap but the morning he spent at Huyton-with-Roby Church of England Primary School put the journey to the top of his profession firmly into context.

This was where it had all began. There could have been no more fitting place, then, for him to mark the achievement of becoming England's sixth footballing centurion than by returning to his first school and recreating the iconic image of Bobby Moore in 1973, surrounded by 99 children, each wearing one of his international caps.

Stevie's a class act: Gerrard poses for this exclusive photograph for the Daily Mail with 99 children from his former school

Stevie's a class act: Gerrard poses for this exclusive photograph for the Daily Mail with children from his former school on the eve of his 100th England cap

Gerrard looked overwhelmed as the photoshoot began, even if the youngest members of the assembled children were blissfully unaware of who he was.

Others were so excited they chirruped the song the Liverpool supporters sing to him, minus the colourful language, of course.

'It was brilliant to go back,' said the England current skipper. 'When I was walking around and getting ready for the picture, it put my whole career into perspective.

If the caps fit: Bobby Moore poses in his England kit with 99 boys from the school opposite West Ham's Upton Park ground on the eve of his 100th game for his country in 1973

If the caps fit: Moore poses in his England kit with 99 boys from the school opposite West Ham's Upton Park ground on the eve of his 100th game for his country in 1973

'I went there when I was only four years of age and I couldn't help but think where I was then and where I have got to now, on the verge of 100 caps.

'It put everything into perspective. I couldn't help thinking how well things have gone and how lucky I have been. I had so many happy memories of being in school and it was just nice to go back and see what it was like again. It was really poignant.

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Hats off: The England and Liverpool captain poses a number of exclusive snaps taken by Daily Mail Chief Sports Photographer Andy Hooper

Hats off: The England and Liverpool captain poses for a number of exclusive snaps taken by Daily Mail Chief Sports Photographer Andy Hooper

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To cap it all: Gerrard with 99 pupils from his old school in Huyton

'I haven't been back for about seven or eight years, so part of the reason for wanting to have the picture taken there was to share it with the teachers and the children.

'That was the first place where I kicked a ball. None of my family would have thought then that I'd go on to play for England.'

Huyton-with-Roby was known as St Michael's Church of England Primary School when Gerrard attended. It has changed since he left in 1991, but Gerrard's impact since has been profound and in one hall there is 'an aspiration corner', where one of Gerrard's Liverpool shirts hangs.

Stricken: Steven Gerrard will have a scan on his knee after picking up an injury against Chelsea

Scare: Gerrard was given the all-clear to face Sweden after sustaining a knee injury in the draw at Chelsea on Sunday

Its aim is to inspire future generations and, judging by the reception he received, his inspirational qualities are not in question. The 30 minutes the 99 children spent with Gerrard, as the cameras clicked to get the perfect image before the heavens opened, will not be forgotten either – by him or the staff of his old school.

'I'm not keen on having my picture taken, but this was special,' said Gerrard. 'I had memories of being on the playground, playing football in the little halls or being stood outside the headmaster's office if I'd been naughty.

Back where it all began: Former England boss presents Gerrard with his first cap in 2000

Back where it all began: Former England manager Kevin Keegan presents Gerrard with his first cap in 2000

'I remember making the walk to school from the Bluebell Estate where I grew up and it would be nice to think that maybe some of the kids who do the same walk now could achieve something themselves in the future.

'If you believe in yourself, you can do it. 'I had not seen the original picture of Bobby Moore until I was asked to do this. I went online and as soon as I saw it, I was both flattered and delighted to have the opportunity. Bobby Moore is an England legend and an iconic figure, so to be asked to emulate that was overwhelming.

'As I said, I'm not the biggest fan of having my picture taken, but this was different. In years to come, it will be fantastic to look back on with my own family and children.'

Huddersfield 2 Wolves 1 – match report

Huddersfield 2 Wolves 1: Centurion Beckford seals the points for Terriers

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UPDATED:

16:32 GMT, 20 October 2012

Jermaine Beckford scored the 100th league goal of his career as he and and fellow loanee James Vaughan teamed up to help Huddersfield secure an impressive win over Wolves.

In what amounts to Simon Grayson's side's biggest scalp since their promotion in the summer, the Town forwards produced a brilliant first-half performance as they scored a goal each to put Huddersfield in command.

And even though their impact lessened as the game went on, the Terriers had enough of a start to hold on and move back into the play-off positions, despite Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's 63rd-minute goal for Wolves, whose three-game winning streak on the road came to an end.

Centurion: Jermaine Beckford scores his 100th league goal of his career

Centurion: Jermaine Beckford scores his 100th league goal of his career

MATCH FACTS

Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Peter Clarke, Gerrard, Woods (Dixon 90), Clayton, Southern, Norwood (Novak 73), Ward, Beckford, Vaughan (Lynch 80).

Subs Not Used: Bennett, Scannell, Arfield, Lee.

Booked: Vaughan, Clayton.
Goals: Vaughan 10, Beckford 27.
Wolverhampton: Ikeme, Foley, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Pennant, Davis (Edwards 46), Doumbia, Sako, Doyle, Ebanks-Blake.

Subs Not Used: De Vries, Stearman, Sigurdarson, Zubar, Batth, Forde.

Booked: Johnson.

Goals: Ebanks-Blake 63.

Attendance: 18,012

Referee: James Adcock

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The showings of Norwich man Vaughan and Leicester's Beckford were the reason for that, with both strengthening their case to earn a permanent deal, especially the latter – who enjoyed a landmark afternoon.

Having opened his account for them in their last game – a 1-0 win at Birmingham – his pace kept Wolves penned back for large parts of the game, allowing Huddersfield to dominate the play in front of them. That he also produced a stunning 27th-minute scissor-kick volley to score merely topped off his performance.

For as good as Beckford was, Vaughan was every bit as impressive. The former Everton striker was strong and clever in his hold-up play, while his back-post header following a brilliant Jack Hunt cross was in keeping with Beckford's clinical finish.

The duo had served Wolves enough warning inside the first 10 minutes, with Beckford getting in behind but scuffing a volley into the ground, and with Wanderers failing to push their defensive line up, they slipped behind 11 minutes in.

Hunt advanced down the right, Stephen Ward refused to come towards him and backed off, allowing Hunt to place a hanging cross to the back post where Vaughan was waiting and headed the ball back in the direction from which it came, leaving Carl Ikeme grasping the air.

Beckford would have doubled the lead in the 18th minute had his leg been an inch longer, allowing him to connect with Vaughan's brilliant cross, and it briefly looked like being a costly miss as Wolves got into the game, with Bakary Sako clipping the bar with a long-range free-kick.

But former Chelsea trainee Beckford would find the net shortly after, peeling off his marker to track the flight of Adam Clayton's cross before powering a quite brilliant right-footed volley beyond Ikeme from 12 yards.

Wolves were desperate for the half-time whistle to come and by the time it did they should have been further behind as Beckford worked Ikeme from the edge of the box and Vaughan twice fizzed shots wide – the latter a sitter after some neat play from Keith Southern.

The one-way traffic would continue after the break as Danny Ward failed to find an open goal following Ikeme's failure to take a ball on the edge of his box, with Wolves relying on hopeful punts forward which were regularly eaten up by Town defender Peter Clarke.

Back at the other end Ikeme shoved away Olly Norwood's free-kick and also smothered a Vaughan header before Wolves gave themselves a lifeline out of keeping with the game.

Sako worked his way down the left and squirmed a cross past the defences of Hunt and found Ebanks-Blake waiting at the near post, and he poked an effort under Alex Smithies.

Stake Solbakken's men suddenly had a purpose and Sako wasted a fine chance after cutting in and beating Hunt on the inside, while Ebanks-Blake had a shot deflected just over and Dave Edwards headed against the post from the subsequent corner, but beyond that they mustered little and Huddersfield held on.

Kevin Pietersen to play for Delhi Daredevils in Champions League

Pietersen begins build-up to England return with Delhi in Champions League

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UPDATED:

13:45 GMT, 12 October 2012

Kevin Pietersen aims to show England what they have been missing – and what they might soon be getting again – when he returns to action for the Delhi Daredevils in the Champions League Twenty20 competition in South Africa on Saturday.

The controversial 32-year-old batting star spent the past month commentating on the ICC World T20 tournament in Sri Lanka, but now it is time for him to get out in the middle again and do what he does best.

Delhi start the group stages at Centurion against the Kolkata Knight Riders, but how long Pietersen is with them could depend on the reintegration process he has agreed to prior to an England comeback.

Back in the fold: KP will soon begin his reintegration to the England team

Back in the fold: KP will soon begin his reintegration to the England team

In what he has called 'a horrible situation for all involved', Pietersen has not been part of the international set-up since it was revealed he had sent text messages to South Africa players during the summer series.

Last week the England and Wales Cricket Board released a statement saying Pietersen would undertake a programme of reintegration after which selectors 'will consider Kevin for future matches'.

He in turn stated: 'I'd just like to take this opportunity to apologise to my team-mates and all the England supporters.

'Thankfully we have drawn a line under it and it's time to move forward. Playing cricket for England is the pinnacle of any cricketer's career and I want an opportunity to do that again as soon as possible.

'Some of my proudest and best moments of my life have been in an England shirt and I want them to continue for as long as possible.

Net result: KP is likely to return for England in the New Year

Net result: KP is likely to return for England in the New Year

'I'm entirely committed to completing the reintegration process we have agreed over the coming weeks and resuming my England career in all formats, hopefully until the World Cup in 2015, as long as my body allows.'

England, now with Alastair Cook as Test captain in place of the retired Andrew Strauss, fly out in less than a fortnight for a tour of India and while Pietersen is not expected back for the four Tests and two Twenty20 games before Christmas, the five-match one-day series at the start of January is seen as a possibility.

Stuart Broad, captain of the T20 side unable to retain their world title, said earlier this week: 'The team have no issues with KP coming back if the management decide he's ready to.

'It's in their hands at the moment. There are some meetings going on behind closed doors and we're waiting to see the outcome of those, but from the team's perspective his integration will be easy.

'Ultimately we're playing cricket and we want guys who will score runs and take catches to help England win. Whatever's happened has happened.

'We pride ourselves on being a strong dressing room and I'm sure that if he came back for India or New Zealand, or whenever it is, that things will be fine within the team.'

Hampshire eliminated from Twenty20 Champions League

Mahmood's all-round class sends Hampshire crashing out of Champions League

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UPDATED:

14:52 GMT, 10 October 2012

Five wickets with the ball and an unbeaten 55 with the bat from Azhar Mahmood led Auckland Aces to a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Hampshire at Centurion to send the county side crashing out of the Twenty20 Champions League.

The triumph sends the New Zealanders into the group stage of the event as winners of Pool One, while Hampshire and Sialkot Stallions, who face off tomorrow in Johannesburg, are eliminated.

Hampshire's below par score of 121 for eight from their 20 overs never looked enough as Martin Guptill's 38 and Mahmood ensured the win with over five overs remaining.

Menace with bat and ball: Azhar Mahmood celebrates taking the wicket of James Adams as the Auckland Aces beat Hampshire

Menace with bat and ball: Azhar Mahmood celebrates taking the wicket of James Adams as the Auckland Aces beat Hampshire

After being put in by the Aces, Michael Carberry's knock of 65 was the only score of note for the English side with Sean Ervine's 16 the next highest total.

Hampshire made a fast start as Carberry cut Kyle Mills for six with just the second delivery of the innings but that was a rare high point as Azhar took control.

After James Vince smashed the Pakistani for six over long on before he mistimed to Andre Adams at mid-on trying to repeat the trick.

And another! Mahmood took five wickets as Hampshire posted an under-par score of 121-8 in their innings

Azhar Mahmood celebrates another wicket as the Auckland Aces beat Hampshire

Too good: Mahmood took five wickets as Hampshire posted an under-par score of 121-8 after being put in to bat by the Auckland Aces

Group winners: Andre Adams celebrates the wicket of Shahid Afridi as Auckland progressed top of their group

Group winners: Andre Adams celebrates the wicket of Shahid Afridi as Auckland progressed top of their group

Jimmy Adams and Shahid Afridi both went for ducks to Azhar before Sean Ervine became Ronnie Hira's first victim, skying to long on to leave Hampshire in trouble at 64 for four at the start of the 12th over.

Glenn Maxwell hit two fours off Azhar before he went to Hira forcing Liam Dawson and Carberry to rebuild rather than attack.

Dawson (11) then Dimitri Mascarenhas fell in the 18th before Carberry's attritional knock ended midway through the final over for a run a ball 65.

Hitting out: Michael Carberry's knock of 65 was the only score of note for Hampshire

Hitting out: Michael Carberry's knock of 65 was the only score of note for Hampshire

Michael Carberry batting for Hampshire

Knowing they had a low total to chase Auckland made a measured start with Guptill and Lou Vincent pushing their score onto 50 from their first six overs, before Vincent went for 19 off the bowling of Wood.

That brought in Azhar who was in no mood to hang around , smashing a six of Chris Wood in the last ball of the seventh and off Dawson in the 10th.

Guptill went the next ball off Afridi, but Azhar continued to attack reaching his half century with a six in the 14th over before hitting the winning runs in the next over.

James Anderson set for England Twenty20 return against South Africa

Anderson set for England T20 recall with paceman Finn suffering due to back injury

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UPDATED:

12:01 GMT, 6 September 2012

James Anderson is poised for a return to 20-over cricket after being called into the England squad for the NatWest Twenty20 series against South Africa as cover for Steven Finn, who has a stiff back.

Pace bowler Anderson, 30, has not played for England in the shortest form of the game since his appearance against South Africa in a match at Centurion in November 2009.

He is not part of the England squad for the ICC World Twenty20 which starts in Sri Lanka later this month.

Twenty20 vision: England fast bowler James Anderson

Twenty20 vision: England quicks James Anderson (above) and Steve Finn (below)

Stiff back: Steven Finn sat out England's 50-over defeat on Wednesday

Finn did not feature in the final one-day international against the Proteas yesterday because of his back problem.

The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed the news of Anderson's call-up on Thursday morning.