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England training at St George"s Park: Joe Hart and Roy Hodgson ahead of San Marino

I've not been brilliant, says England keeper Hart… but U17s disagree as Sportsmail joins juniors to beat lockdown and take sneak peak at Hodgson's training sessionWatch video of youngsters at the senior squad's trainingPlus watch Scott Parker's and Joe Hart's press conferences

, as Ben Foster returned to the England fold to challenge for the No 1 jersey.

And although he welcomes the return of West Brom’s Foster after a two-year break from international football, Hart is determined to try and keep hold of the goalkeeping jersey.

'Is Foster good enough to push me Yes, but I’ve felt that every time I’ve come away with England,’ said Hart. 'My job when I was first involved was to really push hard. We all train like we are going to play and push each other and it’s really good.

Senior moment: England's U17s watch Roy Hodgson's squad train ahead of their qualifier against San Marino on Friday

Senior moment: England's U17s watch Roy Hodgson's squad train ahead of their qualifier against San Marino on Friday

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NextGen: England U17s squad members

NextGen: England U17s squad members from left – Connor Ogilvie (Tottenham), Alex Gilliead (Newcastle), Alex Kiwomya (Chelsea), George Green (Everton), Bryn Morris (Middlesbrough)

VIDEO: England U17s watch Roy Hodgson's behind-closed-doors session…

How the stand: England's group

How the stand: England's group

'If anyone of the three played, then we’d be in a strong position.'

However, Hart will not give up his position easily.

He said: 'I’m in that privileged spot at the moment. I didn’t dream of this spot because I didn’t think it would happen.

'I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do, I love it, I’ll keep working and training hard if there are no keepers or 1,000 keepers.

Group H: Fixtures

Group H: Fixtures

'That No 1 spot is one I want to keep and last summer (Euro 2012) was a real high point in my career.
“It was one of the best footballing things I’ve done. To play in a tournament like that is a dream.'

Hart concedes himself and City have struggled to maintain last season’s standards, but he still refuses to give up the title to Manchester United.

He said: 'My season has not been brilliant. It’s had its good times but it’s football. It’s what I love doing.

'I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been tough, things haven’t always gone my way. I’m enjoying the fight and getting back in there.

'Sometimes you take knocks, that’s football, you take opinions, but you’ve got to be strong.

'I feel strong, good, that I’m doing the right things and hopefully I can have a good end to the season.

'I understand you have your great nights and sometimes things don’t go the way you want. That’s the way it is.

Playing for keeps: England's goalkeepers (from left) Joe Hart, Fraser Forster and Ben Foster during a training session in Burton Upon Trent

Playing for keeps: England's goalkeepers (from left) Joe Hart, Fraser Forster and Ben Foster during a training session in Burton Upon Trent

'I’m my strongest critic but I would never bury myself. It’s pretty obvious when you make a mistake as a keeper, you don’t need to dwell on it too long. It’s out there.'

Hart added: 'With City, it’s not been last year that’s for sure. It’s been tough. We are not in the position we want to be in.

'We remain focused and hard on the case of what we need to do. We are still in one cup, a little further away than we would like to be in terms of the league.

'But we need to nail down that second spot and in doing that it will push us to really go for the title as well.

'You can’t not go for it. It’s a long way off but we’ve got an awful lot to fight for and it’s a big couple of months for us.'

Meanwhile, the World Cup fires are burning brightly for Scott Parker now he has finally recovered from the achilles injury that threatened his international future.

The Tottenham man returned from Euro 2012 requiring surgery on a long-term problem.

Joe Hart on Rio Ferdinand's England absence and the return of Ben…

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VIDEO: Scott Parker on his delight to be back fit and firing…


Great Scott: Parker (second right), Tom Cleverley (right), Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole (left) warm u

Great Scott: Parker (second right), Tom Cleverley (right), Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole (left) warm up at St George's Park ahead of the World Cup qualification double-header

The boss: England's manager Roy Hodgson

The boss: England's manager Roy Hodgson

The operation kept him out until December, but after making 13 successive starts for Spurs, Parker is feeling good again.

And he is starting to train his sights on the greatest show on earth in Brazil next year.

'Now I am amongst it again, the fire rumbles in my belly to get there for Brazil,' said Parker.

'I have not had many massive injuries in my career but the ones you do have give you that hunger again.

'I need to take things one step at a time but, now I am in the squad, if I get my chance I need to take it.'

Midway through his first major tournament last summer, Parker did outline a theory that it could be his last.

Still only 32, it seemed an extreme assessment given his status as England’s most natural defensive midfielder.

Yet part of Parker’s thinking may have been formulated by the knowledge his troublesome Achilles injury, which flared up towards the end of last season, was going to need sorting out.

And, as the former West Ham man is acutely aware, nothing can be taken for granted in the recovery stages from such significant surgery.

'I didn’t really have any pain during Euro 2012 but there was a slight problem with my Achilles during the summer and in the end I needed to have an operation,' said Parker. 'And if you ask any player when they have been out for some time, doubts do cross your mind about when you are going to come back.

'There are long days when you are feeling unfit and everything seems a struggle. Then negative thoughts do set in.

'But once you are out of pain and on the road back towards playing again, your focus changes.'

Although Parker has not featured for his country since that disappointing penalty shoot-out defeat by Italy in Kiev last June, the experience of being in Poland and Ukraine has fuelled a passion to be part of another major tournament with England.

'I had a fantastic time at the Euros,' he said. 'It was a great experience for me and it did explode at quite a late age but I would love to be involved in a World Cup squad.

'A lot can happen between now and then. If I can stay fit and maintain my form hopefully I will have a chance.'

FA to appeal against UEFA bans for Stephen Caulker and Tom Ince

FA to fight UEFA bans handed to Caulker and Ince after U21 play-off in Serbia

PUBLISHED:

18:49 GMT, 8 January 2013

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UPDATED:

02:14 GMT, 9 January 2013

The Football Association have confirmed they have officially appealed against UEFA's bans against Steven Caulker and Tom Ince over England Under 21's heated European Championship play-off against Serbia.

Spurs defender Caulker was given a two-match ban and Blackpool winger Ince a one-match suspension after clashes between players and coaching staff at the end of the match in Krusevac in October.

FA general secretary Alex Horne said last month the FA intended to appeal against the bans.

Fight the ban: The FA have confirmed they will fight the bans handed to Steven Caulker and Tom Ince

Fight the ban: The FA have confirmed they will fight the bans handed to Steven Caulker and Tom Ince

He said then: 'It is the FA's vehement belief that its players and staff acted correctly in the face of provocation, including racist abuse and missiles being thrown.

'We are therefore surprised to see that two of our players have been given suspensions.

'We shall await UEFA's reasoning but it is our intention, at this stage, to support our players and appeal these decisions.'

UEFA ordered Serbia to play their next under-21 international behind closed doors following racist chanting and violent scenes during and after the clash.

The FA had reported the racist abuse to UEFA plus a number of other incidents. Full-back Danny Rose, who was dismissed after the final whistle for kicking the ball away in anger, complained he had been particularly targeted.

Nasty scenes: Players and coaching staff from both sides clashed after the final whistle

Nasty scenes: Players and coaching staff from both sides clashed after the final whistle

Rose claimed he was subjected to monkey chants throughout the match and as he left the pitch.

The Serbia FA was also fined 80,000 euros (65,000) 'for the improper conduct of its supporters during and at the end of the match, as well as for the improper conduct of the Serbia players at the end of the game'.

Serbia fitness coach Andreja Milunovic, who attacked England officials, was banned for two years, the second of which is suspended for three years. Serbia assistant coach Predrag Katic was also banned for two years, the final six months of which suspended for three years.

Four Serbia players were also banned – Goran Causic for four matches, Ognjen Mudrinski and Filip Malbasic for three and Nikola Ninkovic for two.
The punishments meted out were widely condemned in some quarters at the time, while UEFA announced it would appeal against all the sanctions imposed by its control and disciplinary body in relation to the match.

Ban: Serbia have been ordered to play their next game behind closed doors

Ban: Serbia have been ordered to play their next game behind closed doors

Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of football's anti-discrimination group Kick It Out, said last month: 'Kick It Out shares the concerns of many in football that abuse aimed at black players isn't taken seriously enough.

'This is a paltry slap on the wrist and again we haven't seen decisive action from UEFA.'

Sports minister Hugh Robertson, who had written to UEFA president Michel Platini demanding tough action for the racist abuse, expressed his disappointment.

Robertson said: 'I am disappointed in the punishment that has been awarded to the Serbian FA given the widespread racist abuse that England's Under-21 team suffered that night. Racism is completely unacceptable and we need tough sanctions to help combat it.'

Piara Powar, executive director of European anti-discrimination body FARE, also believed the punishment should have been more severe.

Powar said: 'We are disappointed in the totality of the sanction handed out to the Serbian FA. The original offences warranted a more severe collective punishment than a ban on spectators for one match.

'This is a moment in which leadership to challenge discrimination is needed from all authorities. This sanction falls short of that objective.

'We fully acknowledge the unilateral action taken by the Serbian FA in suspending players and sacking coaches in the wake of the match, but they need to demonstrate a wider commitment to educate their supporters and work towards tolerance.'

UEFA appeal against own punishment for Serbia for racism against England

Embarrassed UEFA appeals against its OWN sanctions on Serbia for racism in England U21 match

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UPDATED:

14:03 GMT, 26 December 2012

UEFA have appealed against the sanctions its control and disciplinary body imposed on Serbia following the incidents in the U21 Euro 2013 play-off match against England in Krusevac on October 16.

Michel Platini, president of the European football governing body, was embarrassed by the leniency shown towards Serbia who were only fined 65,900 for the racist behaviour of their supporters.

In addition to the fine issued on December 13, the Serbian U21 side was ordered to play their next match behind closed doors.

Appeal: Michel Platini was embarrassed by the leniency of UEFA's sanctions

Appeal: Michel Platini was embarrassed by the leniency of UEFA's sanctions

Four players were given suspensions between two and four games and two coaches were also banned.

Danny Rose, who was dismissed after the
final whistle for kicking the ball away in anger, complained he had been
subjected to monkey chants throughout the match and as he left the
pitch.

Astonishingly, England players Steven Caulker and Tom Ince were also hit with suspensions by the Control and Disciplinary Body.

An official statement by UEFA read: 'As per the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, the UEFA disciplinary inspector has the right to open disciplinary investigations and to lodge appeals against decisions taken by the Control and Disciplinary Body.

'Having reviewed the motivated decisions for the sanctions imposed in this specific case, which have also been provided to all parties, the UEFA disciplinary inspector felt it necessary to immediately confirm his intention to appeal on UEFA's behalf.'

Shocking: England players including Danny Rose (left) were racially abused

Shocking: England players including Danny Rose (left) were racially abused

In what could prove to be a ridiculous twist, the UEFA disciplinary inspector could appeal against UEFA's appeal.

Tuesday January 8 is the date which the inspector must appeal by, and is also the same deadline which the FA must adhere to if they are to appeal against the sanctions against the England players.

Although issuing a larger fine may well be the outcome of the appeal, a more stringent and effective punishment could be the docking of points for future qualification campaigns.

After the initial punishment was issued PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said: ‘This is a totally inadequate fine which sends a very poor message out to the football world.

‘I intend to write to Michel Platini
expressing our dissatisfaction and will be asking UEFA to exercise its
powers to appeal against the wholly disproportionate punishments imposed
against Serbia.

‘In addition, we will strongly support the FA in their appeal against the decision to suspend Steven Caulker and Thomas Ince.’

Angry: Rose squares up to Serbia player Milos Ninkovic

Angry: Rose squares up to Serbia player Milos Ninkovic

FA general secretary Alex Horne had condemned the sanctions, which he deemed to be too lenient given the nature of the incident.

'We are disappointed with the sanctions levied by UEFA with regards to the racist behaviour displayed towards England's players,' Horne said earlier this month.

'Let's be clear, racism is unacceptable in any form and should play no part in football.

'The scenes were deplorable and we do not believe the sanction sends a strong enough message.'

Serbia have a history of similar incidents. In 2007, when they met England at this level at the finals in Holland, Nedum Onuoha was subjected to racial abuse.

Their players also brawled with England at the final whistle, charging at England’s bench after Matt Derbyshire made it 2-0.

UEFA fined them around 16,000 at the time, but then after an appeal, doubled it.

List of punishments issued for events during the game
The Serbia Under 21 nation team ordered to play their next UEFA competition home match behind closed doors.
The Football Association of Serbia was fined 80,000 euros.Serbia fitness coach Andreja Milunovic was suspended from all football-related activities for two years, the second of which is suspended for a probationary period of three years.
Serbia assistant coach Predrag Katic was suspended from all football-related activities for two years, the final six months of which are suspended for a probationary period of three years.
Serbia's Goran Causic suspended for four UEFA national team competition matches.
Serbia's Ognjen Mudrinski suspended for three UEFA national team competition matches.
Serbia's Filip Malbasic was suspended for three UEFA national team competition matches.
Serbia's Nikola Ninkovic was suspended for two UEFA national team competition matches.
The disciplinary proceedings opened against Serbia player Aleksandar Pantic were dismissed.
The FA has received a warning for improper conduct by its team (more than five cautions).
England's Steven Caulker suspended for two UEFA national team competition matches.
England's Thomas Ince suspended for one UEFA national team competition match.

Neil Lennon believes Celtic can beat Juventus in Champions League

Lennon plans to add to Barcelona heroics with Turin takeaway after drawing Juve

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UPDATED:

23:40 GMT, 20 December 2012

Celtic boss Neil Lennon is dreaming of more Champions League glory after drawing Juventus in the last-16 of Europe’s elite club tournament.

Lennon admits that Juventus will privately be pleased to have drawn their Scottish counterparts. But he believes that his Celtic team have the potential to go even further.

Asked if he’d thought about a run to the quarter-finals, Lennon said: 'Of course. This is the furthest we have progressed as a club in this format and it is a huge incentive for the players to eclipse that. This is their time.

Waiting patiently: Neil Lennon (right) watches intently the Champions League draw intensely

Waiting patiently: Neil Lennon (right) watches intently the Champions League draw intensely

Keep your feet on the ground for now: Celtic train before their SPL clash with Ross County

Keep your feet on the ground for now: Celtic train before their SPL clash with Ross County

'They can’t do it after the event. We know they are going to be two monumentally difficult games. But why not

‘They have taken their opportunities up to this point. We have two more games to grasp the nettle.

‘I think Juventus will be really respectful of us but, behind closed doors, they will fancy it. Do we fancy it

‘Over two games, anything can happen. The first game here will be pivotal in terms of getting any sort of result. But what I do feel is that we are capable of scoring away from home; we have proved that. So 0-0 at home, would that be a good result

Tinsel TV: Lennon (left) believes Celtic can cause a shock against Juventus

Tinsel TV: Lennon (left) believes Celtic can cause a shock against Juventus

‘The way we are playing away from home I don’t see why not. If we can match what we did in Moscow and the Nou Camp, then we should be OK.’

The away win over Spartak Moscow in Group G, along with the narrow defeat by Barcelona in Catalonia, were seen as proof of Celtic’s ability to hurt teams on the break.

With Juve going to Glasgow on February 12 before the return leg in Turin on March 6, Lennon feels his team have a chance to cause another shock.

Shaun Murphy beats Ali Carter to reach UK Championship final

Murphy in remarkable fightback to get Carter and book place in final

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UPDATED:

23:04 GMT, 7 December 2012

Shaun Murphy staged one of snooker's great fightbacks on Friday night to leave Ali Carter stunned and book a place in Sunday's final of the williamhill.com UK Championship.

It looked to be Carter's match when he led 8-4 in the best-of-17 contest, but Murphy played like a player transformed after the mid-session interval, with breaks of 76, 49, 105 and 78 forcing a decider.

Murphy had said after Thursday's victory over 17-year-old Luca Brecel that a dressing-room rocket from his manager Brandon Parker had saved him from defeat, and whatever was said on Friday evening behind closed doors clearly also did the trick.

Slow start: Murphy found himself 8-4 down

Slow start: Murphy found himself 8-4 down

Murphy held his nerve in a tense final frame as breaks of 39 and 29 carried him through to a clash with Mark Selby or Mark Davis, a 9-8 winner.

Carter, who broke down in tears afterwards as he spoke about his continuing battle with Crohn's disease, said: 'Shaun's played unbelievably from 8-4 behind. I was in complete control. All credit to Shaun, I can't be too hard on myself.'

Speaking about his painful condition, Carter said: 'If I could pay to get rid of it, I would.'

Carter had been ahead in the decider, reaching 32 before missing a red with the rest. He dropped his head to the baize, knowing the error had presented Murphy with the chance to take frame and match.

Murphy reached 39 but left himself a difficult black. It was stick or twist time and the 30-year-old opted to stick, playing safe, armed with a seven-point lead.

It proved a judicious choice, for when another half-chance came along Murphy rifled in a tough red, especially tough given the circumstances, to the right-centre pocket. That gave him the platform on which to build the match-clinching break.

Get Carter: Murphy reeled in the Essex potter

Get Carter: Murphy reeled in the Essex potter

Murphy said: 'I don't feel that Ali lost it – I feel that I won it and I'm really proud.

'I was four down with five to play. It's pretty straightforward and you know where you stand with that.

'For the semis of the UK Championships, when I was all but dead and buried, that's got to be my best five-frame spell ever.

'I can't believe that I won the match. I felt he was going to paste me 9-4. I'm blown away.'

Murphy will be bidding for his second UK Championship title, having pipped Marco Fu to the trophy in 2008.

It will be the first all-English final in the UK Championship since Jimmy White beat John Parrott at Preston in 1992.

Carter has reaped the benefits of a diet low in gluten and wheat since admitting after a second-round exit to Mark Allen in York last December that he was considering retirement.

Final date: Murphy booked his place in Sunday's showdown

Final date: Murphy booked his place in Sunday's showdown

After almost a decade of battling Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel condition, Carter has struck on a diet that allows him to stay focused enough to remain a snooker force.

But the problem can only be managed rather than cured, and there are days when Carter suffers particularly badly.

On the table he looked untroubled for much of Friday's match, with afternoon breaks of 77 and 101 seeing him seize a 5-3 lead.

When Carter won three of the evening session's opening four frames, he was one away from the final and a 1/40 shot to win the match.

It looked hopeless for Murphy, but his belief never wavered.

The Manchester-based potter knew he could have played better early on, adding: 'I left it until the death until I started playing.'

Roberto Di Matteo promises changes after seeing West Brom extend Chelsea"s poor run

Di Matteo promises changes after seeing West Brom extend Chelsea's poor run

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UPDATED:

23:33 GMT, 17 November 2012

Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo is set to ring the changes and alter the formation of his side after their poor run of form continued with a 2-1 defeat at West Brom.

The Blues have taken only two points from their last four league games to leave Di Matteo rueing another bleak November for Chelsea.

Di Matteo was rational and calm when facing the media but it is understood he was furious with his players behind closed doors in the dressing room.

Peter Odemwingie scored the West Brom winner after Eden Hazard had cancelled out Shane Long's opening goal.

Breached: Shane Long (bottom left) scores past Petr Cech

Breached: Shane Long (bottom left) scores past Petr Cech

Chelsea dominated for long periods but Di Matteo was unhappy with the defending for both of the home side's goals and is set to shake his side up.

He said: 'It is a ground we find difficult, last season when we lost here, and now this season again. We know they are very good at home.

'But giving away goals like we did today makes if difficult to win the game.

'You have to score three goals to win then and our defending was very poor today.

'We didn't concede many chances but, the ones we did, we had to do better.

Chelsea have operated an attack-minded 4-2-3-1 formation under Di Matteo but that looks set to be reassessed.

At a loss: Chelsea have taken two points from a possible 12

At a loss: Chelsea have taken two points from a possible 12

Di Matteo said: 'This season we are playing a little bit different but we might have to go back (to a previous formation) to be able to win games, and make sure first and foremost we don't concede.

'Maybe it is the time where we might have to change a little bit in terms of our selection and the way we play.

'For some reasons, November for our club is a bad month and it seems the same again this year.

'We are disappointed and maybe it is time to look at things, maybe change it a bit and get a win.

'We will look at the set-up of the team and maybe sacrifice a bit the attacking options to go a little bit more defensive.'

Di Matteo made five changes but insisted: 'It was based on the midweek (international) games. The players were all over Europe and the world, long flights, five or six hours' time difference. They were not in a condition to start or last the game.'

Desperate times: Cech attempts to beat West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill

Desperate times: Cech attempts to beat West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill

West Brom boss Steve Clarke is not allowing himself to get too excited after his side climbed into fourth position.

He said: 'I'm delighted, a great three points, good attacking play, two fantastic goals, and dogged determined defensive play towards the end.

'Can we think of the Champions League I don't look that far ahead, I look from game to game.

'It is a great time to be at the club and if the supporters want to dream a bit, they can. But within the camp, we will keep our feet on the ground.'

Clarke paid tribute to Long after another fine performance following the death this week of his grandmother.

High praise: Long (centre) came in for praise from Steve Clarke

High praise: Long (centre) came in for praise from Steve Clarke

He displayed a T-shirt which said 'Rest In Peace Gran' after scoring his sixth goal of the campaign.

Clarke said: 'I've run out of words to describe his performances this season.

'Shane produced another fantastic performance in what has been a difficult week for him.

'He wanted to play. He is going back to Ireland tonight to be with his family for the next two or three days.'

Roberto Di Matteo talks up Radamel Falcao

Who wouldn't want Falcao Di Matteo talks up Atletico striker as Abramovich gives up on 50m Torres

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UPDATED:

14:55 GMT, 16 November 2012

Roberto Di Matteo admitted any manager would love to have Radamel Falcao in his team as Chelsea step up their interest in the Colombia and Atletico Madrid striker.

Roman Abramovich is ready to concede his 50million gamble on Fernando Torres has failed and the Blues owner will make funds available for Di
Matteo.

Manchester City and Real Madrid are also
interested in the 26-year-old forward, who scored a stunning hat-trick
against Chelsea in the European Super Cup.

See you soon Chelsea defender David Luiz could soon link up with striker Radamel Falcao
See you soon Chelsea defender David Luiz could soon link up with striker Radamel Falcao

Fernando Torres

Di Matteo said: 'Falcao is one of the best strikers,
probably, in European and world football. His ratio of goals per game is
quite impressive not just this season but over the last three years, at
Porto and Atletico Madrid. If you ask any manager, he'd have him in his
team.

'I know the window's nearing and there'll be a lot of speculation for our club, but whatever we do we'll keep it behind closed doors.'

Atletico’s prized asset is impressed by the Blues' ambition, saying: ‘Chelsea are champions of Europe and there is not much more to say than that. Even after winning the Champions League they still go and sign players of the highest quality. Their ambition is clear.

‘I would not be worried about the physical aspect of the Premier League. I have scored goals in Argentina, Portugal and now Spain. I am confident I can adapt my game to any league. I would welcome the challenge of the Premier League.

'I was also a big fan of Gianfranco Zola when I was growing up. I have watched the Premier League for a long time. There is so much quality and it is such an exciting league. Of course it is nice to think I might play in it.’

Financial difficulties mean Atletico will almost definitely have to cash in on the 26-year-old, if not in January then the end of the season. There is a 48m release clause in Falcao’s contract.

Chelsea will wait until the summer if necessary — such is the player’s loyalty to Atletico he would first like to help them secure Champions League football — but Abramovich’s desire to see him at Stamford Bridge is sure to spell the end for the misfiring Torres.

After Didier Drogba’s departure in the summer, Abramovich had hoped Torres would finally rediscover the form that persuaded him to smash the British transfer record to sign him from Liverpool in 2011.

Heading out: Fernando Torres has failed to impress again this season at Stamford Bridge

Heading out: Fernando Torres has failed to impress again this season at Stamford Bridge

But the 28-year-old has shown little sign of improvement, scoring only four Premier League goals this season and delivering another disappointing performance against Liverpool last weekend.

It has been mooted in Spain that Torres could return to his beloved Atletico, who sold him to Liverpool for 25m in 2007, as part of the deal that takes Falcao to London. Chelsea defender David Luiz would certainly welcome the arrival of Falcao.

Flying: Falcao has been in stunning form for Atletico Madrid after joining from Porto

Flying: Falcao has been in stunning form for Atletico Madrid after joining from Porto

Flying: Falcao has been in stunning form for Atletico Madrid after joining from Porto

After facing the Atletico star in the 1-1 draw between Brazil and Colombia in New Jersey on Wednesday night, Luiz said: ‘I’m happy when there are great names attached to Chelsea. He’s a great player. It would be a good choice for Falcao to come to Chelsea. All of the players would be happy.’

Bayer Leverkusen forward Andre Schurrle is a possible alternative but it is clear Falcao wants to move. In an interview earlier this week he told Radio Caracol: ‘The chance of playing in another league and for another club will come. I keep dreaming.’

Gareth Barry insists Manchester City not given up on Champions League

Barry insists Man City have not given up on the Champions League

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UPDATED:

18:58 GMT, 5 November 2012

Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry insists nobody in the dressing has lost belief in the club's Champions League quest.

The Barclays Premier League winners are in danger of early elimination for a second successive season after collecting just one point from their opening three Group D matches.

They now face Ajax in a must-win clash at the Etihad Stadium and Barry claims the team have rallied after losing 3-1 to the Dutch side in Amsterdam a fortnight ago.

Fully focused: Barry insists Man City have not given up hope in the Champions League

Fully focused: Barry insists Man City have not given up hope in the Champions League

The England midfielder said: 'The manager, after the Ajax game, when everyone was disappointed, still instilled us with belief that if we win the (last) three games, then we can go through.

'As players we believe in that too. While it is still possible to qualify – that is our aim – starting tomorrow night against Ajax, we are going to try for three points and go from there.'

Manager Roberto Mancini said after the defeat at the Amsterdam ArenA that his team now needed a 'miracle'.

Behind closed doors, the suggestion is that the messages from the top are different. Last season Mancini famously wrote off City's Premier League title chances after a defeat at Arsenal only for his team to recover from an eight-point deficit with six games to go.

Barry said: 'The manager has his own way of going about things.

Team meeting: Mancini gathers his players around at their Carrington training ground on Monday

Team meeting: Mancini gathers his players around at their Carrington training ground on Monday

Team meeting: Mancini gathers his players around at their Carrington training ground on Monday

'As a group of players we are going into this game, believing we can win them and we can win the Champions League.

'The manager has experience of winning things so you have to listen to what he is saying.'

City opened their latest European challenge with a 3-2 defeat at Real Madrid and then snatched a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund.

Barry, 31, said: 'We are finding it tough to put our finger on exactly why it has been tough.

'It is quite clear that we have not produced our best performances against the quality of opposition that are in the Champions League and, when it comes to these games, when you're not producing your best you get found out. That seems to be what has happened.

Hedging his bets: Joe Hart has a rummage around for a ball

Hedging his bets: Joe Hart has a rummage around for a ball

'I am sure if we could have held on in Madrid it would have set us up a lot differently to where we are at the moment.

'We have been punished on nights when we have not been top of our game.'

City have generally performed below their own high standards so far this season, even though they are still unbeaten in the Premier League and just two points off the top after 10 games.

Barry has little time for suggestions that there are ego clashes in the dressing room that could be affecting team spirit or performances.

He said: 'Ever since this club went through the change, it has had that thrown at it.

Do or die: City must beat Ajax on Tuesday night

Do or die: City must beat Ajax on Tuesday night

Do or die: City must beat Ajax on Tuesday night

'The big names have come in and whenever there are a few negative results, these things are thrown at the players – egos, people can't get on and whatever.

'But inside the dressing room we are close. We will put that right and make people quiet with performances and that is our target.'

Barry knows City have to throw caution to the wind against Ajax.

He said: 'We have home advantage and we have to make that pay. We want our fans right behind us.

'We need to start the game like we started the second half over there. We had a good 10-15 minutes before they got the second goal.

'We have to start like that and keep it up for the full 90 minutes. It is going to be a different game.'

Mark Clattenburg allegations: Arsene Wenger hits out at Chelsea

Wenger hits out at Chelsea for Clattenburg allegations and asks… where's your proof

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UPDATED:

14:10 GMT, 1 November 2012

Allegations: Clattenburg

Allegations: Clattenburg

Arsene Wenger has criticised Chelsea for making a public complaint about referee Mark Clattenburg and said the allegations have ‘little proof’.

Chelsea have formally accused the official of racially abusing John Obi Mikel during Sunday’s 3-2 defeat by Manchester United, but the Arsenal boss said he would prefer to see such matters dealt with internally. Clattenburg is also facing a police investigation after a formal complaint was made by the Society of Black Lawyers.

Wenger said: ‘I believe one of the best things in sport is it’s a battle when it is on. You can sort out the problems you had, especially in England, internally. If it comes to making the lawyers rich I’m not a fan of it.

‘One of the great things in sports as well is tolerance, forgiveness and explanation internally and I think it should stay like that. It can happen that a referee doesn't behave well, I do not say they are angels, but it is always better to sort it out in the room.’

‘I didn’t follow the whole (Chelsea) story completely (but) my opinion is just when I didn’t behave well I have an explanation with the referee at the end of the game or another day, rather than going public with little proof. I’m not in favour of making these things public.’

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In the spotlight: Chelsea have received widespread criticism for their treatment of Clattenburg

In the spotlight: Chelsea have received widespread criticism for their treatment of Clattenburg

Wenger, whose Arsenal side face United at Old Trafford on Saturday, admitted he has behaved inappropriately during high-profile matches but insisted disagreements should be resolved immediately after the game or at least kept behind closed doors.

Asked whether he had encountered such incidents with referees, the Arsenal boss said: ‘Yes. I must say, honestly, my complete deep feeling in that is that I, myself, was not always completely behaving very well in this situation because it’s always very heated but I am a deep supporter of doing that internally.

Straight talking: Wenger did not hold back

Straight talking: Wenger did not hold back

‘I think, for example, the last two nights (in the Capital One Cup) were great adverts of football and that’s absolutely fantastic.

‘We saw some quality games during the two nights. Maybe because the two teams do not want to play extra time and they do not want to go to penalties. The games were very specific.’

Speaking out: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce

Speaking out: West Ham boss Sam Allardyce

Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce has questioned the need for police to be involved in the Clattenburg case, claiming it is 'sad for football'.

The West Ham manager said he had never heard a referee abuse a player during his career and believes the alleged incident at Stamford Bridge is 'very strange'.

Allardyce said: 'It's very difficult for me to comment because you don't know the extent of what's supposed to have been said. That's critical for me.

'The situation is very difficult for everyone to sort out and when you get the police involved as well it really worries me about where we are going in the game.

'I think if every incident is going to be ending up in police hands it's going to be very sad for the game of football I general.

'Over the last however many years as a manager I've never heard one referee give a bad comment to a player. I find it a very strange thing that has been reported. Only the authorities can decide whether it has or hasn't happened.'

Allardyce conceded he traded strong words with referees when he was a player but added: 'That was never a problem in our day. There would always be industrial language between the pair of us. The whole game was different then.'

VIDEO: Wenger urges restraint over Chelsea referee comment

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Jack Wilshere wanted by England boss Roy Hodgson

Roy wants Wilshere for England as manager plans Reading trip to watch comeback Jack

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UPDATED:

17:40 GMT, 26 October 2012

Roy Hodgson is poised to watch Jack Wilshere in competitive action for the first time against Reading on Tuesday night.

The 20-year-old, who is expected to make his eagerly awaited comeback in Saturday's clash against Queens Park Rangers, is set to make his first start in Tuesday's Capital One Cup clash against the Royals.

Jack's back: Wilshere is poised to feature for the first time in 15 months against QPR on Saturday

Jack's back: Wilshere is poised to feature for the first time in 15 months against QPR on Saturday

And Sportsmail understands
the England manager is planning on attending the clash at the Madejski
Stadium to cast his eye over Wilshere next week.

England's next fixture is a friendly
against Sweden on November 14 and it remains to be seen if Hodgson, who
has already identified Wilshere as a key player in his England
blueprint, will select the Arsenal midfielder for the clash.

On the ball: The Arsenal midfielder has played four games for the north London club's second string

On the ball: The Arsenal midfielder has played four games for the north London club's second string

All smiles: Wenger shares a joke with first-team coach Neil Banfield during Friday's training session

All smiles: But Wenger will no doubt be concerned over Hodgson's interest in Wilshere

But with Frank Lampard likely to miss
the match with a calf injury, Wilshere could be in line for an instant
recall to the Three Lions set-up.

Wilshere has not played a competitive fixture for Arsenal for 17 months due to a string of ankle, foot and knee problems.

But the influential midfielder, who
was unused substitute in last weekend's shock defeat against Norwich,
has played in three Arsenal Under 21 matches and a specially-arranged
behind-closed doors friendly.

Arsene Wenger

Jack Wilshere

Have you heard the one about selecting Jack for England, Arsene: Hodgson will watch the Arsenal youngster against Reading on Tuesday