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Euro 2012: Ashley Young says England are ready for France

We're ready for France, insists Young ahead of England's Euro 2012 opener

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UPDATED:

13:55 GMT, 9 June 2012

Ashley Young says England are full of confidence heading into their Euro 2012 opener with France on Monday.

New boss Roy Hodgson has begun his regime with 1-0 victories at Norway in Oslo and Belgium at Wembley, with Young scoring the decisive goal against the former.

Listen up: Ashley Young leaves the England team hotel in Krakow on Saturday morning

Listen up: Ashley Young leaves the England team hotel in Krakow on Saturday morning

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And the Manchester United star thinks the way England approached those games has given the squad cause for optimism ahead of their Group D opener with Les Bleus in Donetsk.

'Everybody in the squad is feeling confident ahead of that game and I’m sure if we can go out there and create the displays we’ve shown in the last couple of games, we can go out there and get a good result,' Young said at Saturday’s press conference.

'If you look at the two games we’ve had under him (Hodgson), the organisation has been different to previous games and I think it’s helped.

'The two 1-0 wins were good wins, especially the way we kept our shape and managed to get ourselves forward and get the goals. I think it’s going to be important to do that on Monday.'

Relaxed: Ashley Young was in confident mood at his England press conference

Relaxed: Ashley Young was in confident mood at his England press conference

Young revealed midfielder James Milner and full-back Martin Kelly missed this morning’s training session with minor ailments.

But everyone else participated in the closed-doors training session, including striker Jermain Defoe, who returned to the England squad after going back home on Thursday morning following the death of his father.

'It was a normal training session,' Young said. 'We went out and worked on a few things. It’s about preparation for the game on Monday and we prepared in the right way.

'Milly’s got blisters and Martin Kelly had a bit of a migraine last night but they were the only two that didn’t take part. Everyone’s fully fit for Monday and looking forward to the game.'

Young was quick to point out the team are working towards one common goal and there are no egos within the camp.

Ready: Young believes England have momentum going into their opening match

Ready: Young believes England have momentum going into their opening match

'Everybody’s helping each other out,' he said. 'Everybody talks to each other, whether you’ve got something to say, whether you’re a youngster or a senior then you’re able to say it. We’re a team and we want to go forward and everybody’s pushing in the right direction.'

The 26-year-old former Watford and Aston Villa midfielder highlighted Wayne Rooney’s contribution.

The striker is banned for the first two games of the European Championship but Young insists his presence in the camp is a positive one.

'He’s a world-class player and it’s disappointing not to have him for the first two games but we’ve got to get on with it,' added Young.

'He’s been in the squad, keeping everyone happy, and that’s the importance of having him round even though he’s not playing the two games.'

Euro 2012: England open training session with no penalty spots

Spot of bother England open doors to training HQ… but lack of penalty marks could leave fans fearing over Euro 2012 shootouts

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UPDATED:

10:56 GMT, 8 June 2012

England opened the doors to their training HQ today – but let's hope they don't face any penalty shootouts at Euro 2012.

Despite rebuilding their Hutnik base into an ultra-smart training centre, the pitch is missing one crucial thing: penalty spots.

Given England's poor performances when
it comes to shootouts, we can only hope that Roy Hodgson will soon be
ordering the small circles to be painted on.

Heading out: The England players walk out for training with mascots

Heading out: The England players walk out for training with mascots

Meet and Greet: The England players meet local fans

Meet and Greet: The England players meet local fans

The time is now: England open the doors to their training session

The time is now: England open the doors to their training session

Former England captain and BBC presenter Gary Lineker said on his Twitter account: 'Come on Roy, make them practice pens. 20 a day minimum. Can't do any harm. You never know!

'Never understood this 'it's different under pressure so pointless to practice' argument. Then why do golfers practice putting for hours

'For those remotely interested, I hit between 30 and 50 pens a day in training at tournaments. Guarantees nothing but has to help.'

Man of the people: Steven Gerrard poses for photos with the Polish Police

Man of the people: Steven Gerrard poses for photos with the Polish Police

The key men: Captain Steven Gerrard and manager Roy Hodgson talk during training

The key men: Captain Steven Gerrard and manager Roy Hodgson talk during training

England's squad – minus grieving Jermain Defoe – were put through their paces in Krakow ahead of Monday's Group D opener against France.

Before training got underway the players each walked out with a local child all wearing England shirts and then the players unveiled a banner – written in English and Polish – which read: 'Thank-you for our warm welcome in Krakow'.

Watching on: The media and the fans watch the England players during a training session at the Stadion Suche Stawy

Watching on: The media and the fans watch the England players during a training session at the Stadion Suche Stawy

Giving the orders: Roy Hodgson with coaches Ray Lewington and Gary Neville talking to the squad

Giving the orders: Roy Hodgson with coaches Ray Lewington and Gary Neville talking to the squad

Going through the paces: England players warm up during their open training session in Krakow

Going through the paces: England players warm up during their open training session in Krakow

Defoe is back in London after his father's death from throat cancer but Hodgson is hopeful the rest of his 21 available players – Wayne Rooney is suspended for the first two matches – will be fit to face the French in Donetsk.

The session was much lighter than the one on Thursday when the troops were pushed hard.

Ashley Cole, Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, James Milner, Scott Parker, John Terry and Theo Walcott all warmed up with the team and then left the main session to do some gym work.

Showing them how to do it: Hodgson (left) with the attacking players during training

Showing them how to do it: Hodgson (left) with the attacking players during training

Getting there first: England's Danny Welbeck jumps for the ball during training

Getting there first: England's Danny Welbeck jumps for the ball during training

Rooney and Danny Welbeck showed they were in good form with some good finishing which drew applause from the watching crowd.

Rooney and goalkeeper Joe Hart will be part of an England grpup that will visit the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz later.

Final preparations: England players get ready for their opening game with France

Final preparations: England players get ready for their opening game with France

Hodgson is keen to have as many players as possible go but, aside from Hart, he does not want his likely starters against France to visit because of the lengthy time involved.

The remaining members of the squad are expected to tour Oskar Schindler’s factory, which has been turned into the museum of wartime Krakow.

Decrease in racism cases at football matches

Improvement in racist behaviour at football matches despite high-profile incidents

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UPDATED:

22:42 GMT, 27 April 2012

The John Terry flashpoint has focused attention on racism and hate crime inside football grounds but such cases are falling according to Crown Prosecution Service figures acquired by Sportsmail.

This season, there have been 13 cases of racist or indecent chanting at a football match have reached the first stage of the court process, compared with 18 last season, 20 in 2009-10 and 22 in 2008-09.

Only last month, the CPS's lead chief prosecutor Nick Hawkins called for clubs to be heavily punished and forced to play games behind closed doors if their fans are guilty of indecent chanting.

Flashpoint: John Terry and Anton Ferdinand clashed at Loftus Road

Flashpoint: John Terry and Anton Ferdinand clashed at Loftus Road

The downward trend, however, suggests the efforts of clubs and football authorities to eradicate such behaviour are working or the problem lies with forcing through these particular prosecutions.

The latest Home Office figures also report football related disorder is at an all-time low.

Gareth Bale perfect for Barcelona, says Dani Alves

Bale fits the bill for Barcelona as Alves insists Spurs winger would sizzle in Spain

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UPDATED:

11:33 GMT, 17 April 2012

Dani Alves would love Tottenham winger Gareth Bale to join him at Barcelona.

Alves plays right-back for the Catalan giants and believes Bale would be perfect on the opposite flank at the Nou Camp.

The Brazilian said: 'He is a player I love to watch. The idea Bale has of football is really quite similar to the Brazilian perspective.

Wanted man: Gareth Bale has caught the attention of Barcelona's Dani Alves

Wanted man: Gareth Bale has caught the attention of Barcelona's Dani Alves

'He is a full-back in the Brazilian style. In Europe they play more defensively so they tend to play him as a winger, but in my team he would be a full-back. He is a spectacular player.

'Bale is very good as a winger but I would have him at the back. At Barcelona he would be a full-back.'

Bale has been heavily linked with a move to Barca and the Primera Liga outfit have watched the Welshman in action for Spurs.

But just playing well is not enough to earn a switch to the European champions.

Come on over: Alves (right) would welcome Bale to Barcelona

Come on over: Alves (right) would welcome Bale to Barcelona

Alves, in London for a Champions League semi-final clash with Chelsea, told The Independent: 'Barca always sign players who they know will fit into the team. It's never a case of, “Oh he's playing well. People are talking about him a lot so let's sign him”.

'Barcelona look at everything. They ask themselves if the player can fit “here, here and here” and if they decide that yes, he would fit “there, there and there”, then they make their move.'

Alves signed for Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and has won the league three times, one Copa del Rey and two Champions League titles.

But he refused to rule out a move to England, saying: 'You always have to leave the doors open because we don't know what is going to happen tomorrow.

'I am at the best club in the world but you stay open to things because in football you serve a purpose for as long as you are delivering and, if the coach no longer needs you, then you don't serve a purpose anymore and you have to look elsewhere.'

Jack Wilshere struggling for Euro 2012

Wilshere struggling to make Euros after Wenger admits comeback not likely this season

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 13 April 2012

Jack Wilshere's chances of making Euro 2012 are fading fast after Arsene Wenger admitted the midfielder is unlikely to play this month.

The Arsenal manager set Wilshere an end-of-April deadline to make his return from injury. But, when asked whether his hopes had waned, Wenger admitted: ‘You’re not far (wrong). We are now in mid-April and the European Championships start in the middle of June.

Crocked: Wilshere was first injured playing for England back in June

Crocked: Wilshere was first injured playing for England back in June

‘Jack’s not played the whole season and anyone who knows what is required at the top level, in terms of intensity, knows time is getting short now.’

The Frenchman revealed that the midfielder is still continuing his rehabilitation in the gym and has yet to make his return to first-team training. And, with just five games left in the Premier League season, it is looking increasingly likely Wilshere will not play again until next season.

‘Jack is making slow progress, we will not risk him,’ said Wenger.

Slow progress: Wenger won't risk Wilshere

Slow progress: Wenger won't risk Wilshere

Wilshere suffered a fractured right ankle in pre-season, an injury that required surgery. Arsenal medics hoped to have the 19-year-old midfielder back by February – but Sportsmail exclusively revealed he suffered a stress fracture to his right heel in January that would almost certainly rule him out for the season. The club refused to give up hope and even lined up a string of behind-closed-doors matches to help ease him back.

Wenger admitted the midfielder is frustrated by his problematic recovery, saying: ‘Jack is mentally strong but what is holding him back is that he can’t play football, so he can’t be happy.’

FA technical director role in reach for Gareth Southgate

Southgate closing in on FA promotion with technical director role in his sights

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 4 April 2012

Gareth Southgate's chances of securing the technical director’s job at the FA have been enhanced by a fact-finding mission he took to Brazil last week.

The FA insist appointing the right man will be ‘an open process’ with candidates worldwide invited to apply. But they have big plans for Southgate, already head of elite development.

They see him as their ‘Michel Platini’,
said one FA source, and he impressed officials in Brazil with the way
his reputation in the game opened doors.

Top job: Gareth Southgate is favourite for the coveted FA technical director role

Top job: Gareth Southgate is favourite for the coveted FA technical director role

There is, of course, a purely technical side to the position with the new National Football Centre at St George’s Park a big part of that. But Southgate is a former manager and international centre half, and he has obtained the highest coaching qualifications — the FIFA Pro Licence.

Southgate has yet to apply, but the support he has within the FA makes him a clear favourite for a position of huge importance.

FA general secretary Alex Horne said: ‘The role will be crucial as we strive to improve the technical ability and knowledge of our players and coaches.’

Rangers administrator calls for potential buyers to validate interest

Show me the money! Rangers administrator calls for potential buyers to prove their interest

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UPDATED:

11:41 GMT, 11 March 2012

Rangers administrator Paul Clark has revealed takeover interest from America and the Far East and called for all potential buyers to 'put their money where their mouth is'.

Mass redundancies were prevented on Friday when all players accepted wage cuts of up to 75% for the rest of the season while Mervan Celik and Gregg Wylde left voluntarily.

Bids are being invited in a bid to save the stricken Scottish champions and Clark is eager to identify 'serious' suitors as soon as possible.

Proof: Administrator Paul Clark wants interested parties to show what they could bring to Ibrox

Proof: Administrator Paul Clark wants interested parties to show what they could bring to Ibrox

Clark said: 'What we want is to have only serious bidders left by the end of the week.

'So anybody who has just been talking – and there are a few out there who have done a lot of talking – we want to seek them out and, as it were, put their money where their mouth is.

'Let's get them round a table so we know how many parties we've got. I don't care how many bidders we end up with but I want to know who they are, what they are and what their worth is, so then we can have more serious conversations about achieving the end goal which is to get Rangers under new ownership.

'This is the problem we have got, we have one or two parties prepared to talk to the media and then you have other parties who have been quietly and slowly and diligently getting on with their business behind closed doors outside of the glare of the media and we are taking them just as seriously as anybody who is on the front page of the newspapers saying, 'I'm going to buy Rangers, you just watch'.

Future: The administrators want the best party to secure the club's future

Future: The administrators want the best party to secure the club's future

'If somebody wants to involve the media, that's fine. And if they become the owner then they can sit on the front page of all the papers saying, 'I did it'. But don't be surprised if that owner isn't one of the people who is media friendly.

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Cuts: The squad agreed to a pay chop

'I've got two calls to two different parties over the weekend. We have an online data room for those parties so they can go in and take information over and above what we've told them in our meetings.

'You've got different people asking different questions. We hope and believe that a new owner will be installed before the end of the season so that it's not us in charge at season's end. That's our objective.

'What we've done so that people realise they need to speed themselves up is to say that on Friday we want to receive absolute proof of your funding so we understand who you are and which camp you are in because some people have feet in various camps.

'We want to know who exactly has your money. More importantly, we want some form of indicative bid, so that will distil down however many parties we have got at the moment to the final few.'

Carlos Tevez welcomed back by Manchester City fans in reserve clash

Tevez welcomed back by fans at reserve clash in first City show since going AWOL

Carlos Tevez has finally made his first public appearance for Manchester City in over five months in a reserve clash against Bolton.

The Argentina striker, who returned to England last month after going AWOL in his homeland following a fall-out with boss Roberto Mancini, is attempting to prove his fitness ahead of a first-team comeback.

He's back: Carlos Tevez in action during the Manchester Senior Cup match at Ewen Fields, Hyde

He's back: Carlos Tevez in action during the Manchester Senior Cup match at Ewen Fields, Hyde

Committed: The Argentina striker goes in for a tackle with Bolton's Adam Blakeman (left)

Committed: The Argentina striker goes in for a tackle with Bolton's Adam Blakeman (left)

Tevez has already had one reserves outing – behind closed doors – in the match against Preston at City's Carrington training base.

The former Manchester United and West
Ham striker may have been worried about what reception he would get
after so publicly snubbing Mancini.

Warming up: Carlos Tevez before the match

All smiles: Tevez with City assistant manager Brian Kidd

Warming up: Tevez on the ball and enjoying a joke with with City assistant manager Brian Kidd (right and below)

Friendly: Tevez shakes hands with Kidd

But Tevez got a 'decent reception'
from the big crowd gathered to see his long-awaited return, according to
City's official Twitter feed.

The 28-year-old forward started the
match, a Manchester Senior Cup semi-final, up front alongside 19-year-old Harry
Bunn, the son of former Oldham hitman Frankie.

Tevez looked lively from the start, spinning away from his marker before firing over the bar early on.

He then came close to scoring with a 25-yard free-kick in the first half but was thwarted by Bolton keeper Jay Lynch.

More to follow.

On the ball: Tevez (left) in action during his first public appearance for City since his return to England

On the ball: Tevez (left) in action during his first public appearance for City since his return to England

Carlos Tevez plays for reserves in Manchester Senior Cup

Tevez's latest mission: Help the reserves into Manchester Senior Cup final!

The Manchester Senior Cup – is this what Carlos Tevez imagined when he finally secured his way back into Manchester City

The Argentina striker, who returned to England last month after staying in his homeland following a fall-out with boss Roberto Mancini, is attempting to prove his fitness ahead of a first-team comeback.

On his way back: Carlos Tevez (right) trains alongside Mario Balotelli

On his way back: Carlos Tevez (right) trains alongside Mario Balotelli

But he can forget the glamour of playing at Bayern Munich for now, because on Tuesday night he is at Hyde for the reserves clash against Bolton.

At stake is a place in the Manchester Senior Cup final – and you can bet Tevez hopes he isn't still playing for the stiffs if they manage to progress.

Tevez will start up front at the non-league ground with 19-year-old Harry Bunn, the son of former Oldham hitman Frankie.

Tevez has already had one reserves outing – behind closed doors – in the match against Preston at their Carrington training base.

Norwich 2 Bolton 0: Tyrone Mears bright spark for Owen Coyle

Mears provides Coyle with ray of light after Bolton's dismal showing at Norwich

There were not many positives for Owen Coyle to take following Bolton’s deserved 2-0 defeat by Norwich.

His team were outplayed, outthought and outfought at Carrow Road and went back into the relegation zone as a result of the loss.

But there was one bright spot for Coyle. Full back Tyrone Mears played his first game for Wanderers after six months out with a broken leg and acquitted himself fairly well in a rather abject Bolton back four.

Welcome return: Tyrone Mears (left) made his comeback from injury

Welcome return: Tyrone Mears (left) made his comeback from injury

His manager is just glad of his return and said: ‘It’s great to have Tyrone back. He sustained a broken leg in the summer and he’s worked hard to get back to a good level now. Gretar Steinsson had a hamstring injury and Joe Riley has hurt his groin and had to miss out so Tyrone came in.

‘He’s played three or four reserve matches and a couple of behind-closed-doors games. But it’s playing in the Barclays Premier League – that really brings you on and he’ll improve because of the outing today. If there is a positive to come out of the game it’s having Tyrone back.’

Work to be done: Norwich outplayed Bolton to record a fine win

Work to be done: Norwich outplayed Bolton to record a fine win

There certainly were not many more good things for Coyle to take from the game and it makes next week’s home clash against Wigan even more important.

The Bolton manager added: ‘Every game in the Barclays Premier League is a big game. When you’ve just lost then the next game becomes even bigger. That’s par for the course. That’s when you deal with pressure, as you call it. That’s football pressure and that’s why we love being in this game. We’ll look forward to the game next week and make sure we get back to our very best.’

Norwich v Bolton