Tag Archives: exertions

Andre Villas-Boas allays fears about Jermain Defoe burn-out as Spurs boss targets win at Southampton

Villas-Boas allays fears about Defoe burn-out as Spurs boss targets win at Southampton

By
Sportsmail Reporter

PUBLISHED:

14:29 GMT, 27 October 2012

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UPDATED:

14:30 GMT, 27 October 2012

Andre Villas-Boas has no concerns about Jermain Defoe burning out and instead believes the striker is thriving under the pressure of being Tottenham's main frontman.

The 30-year-old has flourished since the Portuguese's arrival as he has gone from a bit-part player under predecessor Harry Redknapp to the side's first-choice striker.

Defoe is also featuring regularly for England, but international football combined with Spurs' domestic and European exertions has raised questions as to whether he can cope with such demands.

The former West Ham man has featured in 15 matches for club and country in the past two-and-a-half months, but Villas-Boas insists he has no concerns about the striker.

Feeling the strain: Jermain Defoe has had a busy season

Feeling the strain: Jermain Defoe has had a busy season

'Let's compare it to last year. People were begging for chances and here they are,' the former Chelsea manager said.

'Obviously it is a different type of situation, but at this time of the season I am not worried yet.

'You take out the first three games of the season as they were separated by a week, there were international breaks when he played some of the games but not all.

'He still has power and energy in his legs. Also the possibility of him equalling Teddy Sheringham or overtaking him on the top 10 of Tottenham's goalscorers is something that motivates him.'

The pressure on Defoe's shoulders has been intensified by the lack of out-and-out attacking options at Tottenham, although the return to fitness of Emmanuel Adebayor will help lift the burden on the diminutive striker.

Weight on his shoulders: Defoe has been Spurs' attacking spearhead

Weight on his shoulders: Defoe has been Spurs' attacking spearhead

Villas-Boas hopes the Togo international will be available after back pain for the trip to Southampton, where several other key players are set to come back into the reckoning.

'Gareth Bale will definitely return and Adebayor we will have to wait and see,' he said.

'Mousa Dembele we will have to wait and see, although he is making good progress.

'We've recovered recently [Kyle] Naughton and Jake [Livermore] so it is opening up a bit for us in terms of people recovering. It gives us the ability to have some fresh legs against Southampton.'

Spurs will, though, definitely be without Scott Parker, Younes Kaboul and Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

Michael Dawson is also a doubt through illness, which will means much of the team that featured in Slovenia on Thursday evening will be utilised once again at St Mary's.

Spurs were held to a disappointing 1-1 Europa League draw at NK Maribor and now face the challenge of a quick turnaround to face Saints.

'I think we had one of our strongest performances against Aston Villa after a trip to Panathinaikos,' Villas-Boas said.

'This is a shorter trip, certainly we don't have the squad in-depth to give us the options other people might have.

'I think what we are trying to do is not just go through in a competition that means a lot to the club, but also educate the players on this intensity of matches that in the end is equal to any team playing in the Champions League.

'It is one day more, obviously, than the others and it is our preference to play on Sunday.

'By that previous example of Aston Villa, it leaves us in a comfortable position and hopefully it won't take its toll.'

John Terry will not be given a break despite ban – Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo confirms there will be no break for Terry despite Premier League ban

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UPDATED:

22:58 GMT, 21 October 2012

Roberto Di Matteo insists he has no plans to give John Terry a complete break from football while he serves his four-match ban for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.

Terry watched Chelsea beat Tottenham 4-2 from the stands on Saturday as he began the suspension that was imposed by the Football Association for his comments towards Ferdinand last October.

The 31-year-old has retained the Chelsea captaincy despite the FA's sanction, and he looks set to lead the Blues out in their Champions League group clash in Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday night.

No rest: John Terry will still feature in Chelsea's non-Premier League games

No rest: John Terry will still feature in Chelsea's non-Premier League games

Terry could be forgiven for wanting to take a break after such a tumultuous year, but when asked whether he had ever considered such an option, Di Matteo's response was blunt, and to the point.

'No,' said the Italian, who now hopes the club can move on from the matter.

'It has been a delicate issue and we are going to continue working with the authorities to eradicate discrimination.

'The board has made the final decision (to keep Terry as captain) and we can focus just on our football while keeping in mind that we have responsibilities to keep working towards a more respectful world.'

One player who Di Matteo did give a recent break to is Juan Mata.

The decision has proven to be a wise one, with the Spaniard taking his goal tally to six in five after bagging a quick-fire brace to swing the game in Chelsea's favour yesterday afternoon.

Di Matteo gave Mata two weeks off after his exertions with Spain at the European Championship and Olympics and the Italian is delighted that the move has paid off.

'He played in the Euros and the Olympic Games, so it was of vital importance that we gave him a break, mentally and physically,' Di Matteo said.

Decisions: Di Matteo will not give Terry a break

Decisions: Di Matteo will not give Terry a break

'It was a good decision from the way he is playing. This last international break, when he wasn't selected, has given him another little breather.'

To those who have watched Mata tear up the Barclays Premier League in recent weeks, his latest opportunity to rest must have come as something of a shock.

It is hardly a secret that Spain are blessed with a wealth of talent in midfield, but Mata can count himself mightily unlucky not to have received a call-up to La Roja's most recent World Cup qualifier against Belarus.

Mata himself appears unconcerned about the snub and insists his mind is totally dedicated to the task in hand at Chelsea.

'I don't know (whether anyone was watching from Spain). I just try to improve with every Chelsea game I play,' Mata said.

'I just wanted to do my best for my team and in this moment I am feeling really well.

'I had another chance for a goal but Fernando (Torres) was in a better position than me to score.

Magic Mata: The little Juan has been in astounding form

Magic Mata: The little Juan has been in astounding form

'But the most important thing for me was victory. Before the game we wanted to stay top of the league and we are still there.'

Gary Cahill put the Blues ahead with a powerful volley before William Gallas and Jermain Defoe turned the game on its head just after the break.

The match slipped away from the grasp of former Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas half-way through the second period, however, when Mata latched on to Gallas' poor clearance before making it 2-2 and then slipping past the Frenchman to rifle home Chelsea's third.

It was Mata's partnership with Oscar and Hazard again which caused the most destruction and Di Matteo has been extremely happy with how quickly the latter pair have settled in to English football following their respective arrivals from Lille and Internacional.

'We have been lucky with the way the players we signed have settled in to the club quickly and into the Premier League,' Di Matteo said.

'That's thanks to the players who were already here, particularly Oscar, as the Spanish and Portuguese players have helped him integrate quicker.'

Di Matteo was quick to play down talk of winning the Barclays Premier League despite yet another impressive win, adding: 'There has been a 10-12 points advantage that have been given up by teams (before).

'Our December schedule is crazy, so we have to wait to see where we stand then.'

Roberto Mancini warns Manchester City that West Bromwich are best in league

West Brom have been the best team in the Premier League, says Mancini as Man City prepare for big test

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UPDATED:

14:02 GMT, 19 October 2012

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes this weekend's opponents West Brom have been playing the best football in the country.

Mancini hopes his players quickly recover from their international exertions of the past fortnight to get ready for what he expects to be a challenging trip to The Hawthorns.

The Baggies have made a solid start in the Barclays Premier League under new boss Steve Clarke and are just a point behind Mancini's third-placed champions.

En guard! Mancini has been preparing his players for the clash with West Brom

En guard! Mancini has been preparing his players for the clash with West Brom

Mancini said: 'I should say many compliments to him (Clarke) because he has done a very good job until now.

'In this moment, I think West Bromwich is the team that has played the best football, so tomorrow for us it will be a tough game.

'It is always difficult, this game after the international break. Today is the first date we can work together.

'We need to think and we need to put everything we have into tomorrow's game because it will be very difficult. After that we think about the other games.'

City are unbeaten but yet to hit their stride this season, although they suggested better was to come with an emphatic 3-0 defeat of Sunderland in their last game a fortnight ago.

Mancini anticipates an entertaining contest with both sides keen to express themselves.

The Italian said: 'It is very important when there are two teams that play very good football, I think it is important for the supporters, for everyone.'

The international break has taken a toll on City with midfielders David Silva and Jack Rodwell suffering hamstring injuries representing Spain and England Under 21s respectively.

The problem for Silva, at least, may not be as bad as feared.

The 26-year-old pulled up after just 10
minutes of Spain's World Cup qualifying draw with France on Tuesday and
it was reported he could face a lengthy lay-off.

Final preparations: The City players are returning to domestic action after the break for international duty

Final preparations: The City players are returning to domestic action after the break for international duty

Final preparations: The City players are returning to domestic action after the break for international duty

But although he will also miss Wednesday's crucial Champions League encounter with Ajax, there is a possibility he could be back in action next weekend.

Mancini said: 'He is not ready for tomorrow, and will not be for the Champions League, but we hope for the next game against Swansea.'

There might also have been concerns about the condition of England players Joe Hart, Joleon Lescott and James Milner, who returned later than scheduled after their World Cup qualifier in Poland was put back a day.

But despite the disruption to his preparations, Mancini at least has no worries about their fitness.

The Italian said: 'The English players who played on Wednesday are tired but I am not worried, they have another day to recover.'

Mancini also has no fears about Hart's state of mind ahead of his return to domestic action.

Hart was at fault as Poland claimed their equaliser in the 1-1 draw against England in Warsaw on Wednesday. That came just a fortnight after Hart was widely hailed as the best goalkeeper in the world after a stunning display against Borussia Dortmund.

Winning ways: City beat Sunderland 3-0 in the last league encounter

Winning ways: City beat Sunderland 3-0 in the last league encounter

Praise be! West Brom have made an excellent start to the season

Praise be! West Brom have made an excellent start to the season

Mancini said: 'I think this is a situation that happens when you can play but usually Joe saves everything.'

There have been rumours in recent days suggesting midfield talisman Yaya Toure might want to leave the Etihad Stadium for a new challenge but Mancini was dismissive.

Mancini, speaking at his press conference to preview the West Brom game, said he believes the 29-year-old can continue to get the challenge he wants with City.

Mancini said: 'Every day we have a new challenge here. In two-and-a-half years we won the FA Cup, the Premier League, the Community Shield.

'Now we need to win other cups and other Premier Leagues. We need to work more for this challenge. I think Yaya thinks like me and the other players.

'I am happy Yaya wants a new challenge, I also want a new challenge. I want to win the next game, then the next game in the Champions League. We want to do everything together.'

Mancini also joked about the matter when asked about the challenge West Brom might pose.

He said: 'This is another big challenge for Yaya.'

Mancini has certainly welcomed suggestions Toure might want to sit out next year's African Nations Cup.

Toure's absence during last season's tournament in January and February coincided with the champions' worst spell of the campaign.

Mancini said: 'I didn't speak with Yaya about this. Hopefully we will speak in the next week. I hope he stays here but I don't know.'

Jamie Peacock says Leeds Rhinos Super League Grand Final win is best of his eight

Proud Peacock enjoys eighth wonder and colossus says Leeds win is best of the lot

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UPDATED:

19:29 GMT, 7 October 2012

Moments after collecting his eighth Super League winner’s ring, Jamie Peacock sat in the Old Trafford dressing room and declared it the best of the lot.

The former England captain, 34, remains a colossus for Leeds Rhinos. He was the only man to make more than 200 metres in a compelling Grand Final against Warrington, leaving his body covered in bruises.

But his grin was unmistakable. ‘It’s an overwhelming feeling when you win that way,’ he said of the 28-16 win. ‘It justifies all the self-sacrifices and all the difficult decisions we’ve made over the past eight or nine months.

‘You never want to be disrespectful to previous teams you’ve played with but this is the best win.

Serial winner: Jamie Peacock savours victory

Serial winner: Jamie Peacock savours victory

‘We didn’t come into the play-offs with any form. We got beaten by 12 men at Huddersfield (in the last league game of the season), and then we had to beat a great Wakefield side who were in form, go away to Catalan, win at Wigan and then beat a side we’ve never beaten before in a final.

‘To come from behind and have that belief shows a special group.’

Peacock’s exertions were just the tip of a collective effort from Leeds that confirmed their position as the best side British rugby league has produced since Wigan’s team of the late Eighties and early Nineties.

‘The belief in this group is very strong,’ said Peacock. ‘When you’ve been in this position before, it allows you to have faith in the person next to you and trust them in those situations. Our belief never wavered.’

Drive time: Peacock powers on

Drive time: Peacock powers on

Leeds hooker Rob Burrow paid tribute to the rampaging prop.

Burrow said: ‘JP gets more grey every day, but he seems to get younger each week with his performances. He commands respect, and Kev (captain Kevin Sinfield) is the same. You wouldn’t have anyone else captain the side and as assistant captain you’ve got JP — how can you get better than that’

Leeds pounded Lee Briers, with Carl Ablett given responsibility for targeting Warrington’s creative force when Wolves had the ball.

Ablett said: ‘I was just trying to get in his head, letting him know that I was there.’

The tactic left Sinfield clear to guide Leeds to another remarkable triumph. ‘There’s no better kicker under pressure in this country in either code,’ said Peacock.

‘He’s the greatest Leeds captain of all time.’

Fernando Torres says he is not tired

I don't need a rest! Torres insists he is fresh and ready to kick on with Chelsea

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UPDATED:

12:53 GMT, 30 September 2012

Fernando Torres insisted he did not need to be rested like Juan Mata after the pair combined again to fire Chelsea three points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

For the second successive game, Torres and Mata linked up to devastating effect as the European champions won 2-1 at Arsenal on Saturday.

As in Tuesday's Capital One Cup thrashing of Wolves, each set up the other's goal at the Emirates Stadium, Torres scoring from Mata's free-kick before earning the foul from which his fellow Spaniard netted the winner.

Fresh: Fernando Torres says he is not in need of a break

Fresh: Fernando Torres says he is not in need of a break

Mata's return to the side after being given a fortnight off following his Euro 2012 and Olympic exertions has reinvigorated both Chelsea and Torres.

Manager Roberto Di Matteo decided to give Mata a complete break amid fears he could suffer burn-out and the Italian may have similar concerns about Torres, who is the only player to have started every one of the club's games this season.

Tuesday's Champions League match against Nordsjaelland might be the ideal time to rest the 28-year-old if Daniel Sturridge is fit.

But, having spent much of last season kicking his heels on the bench, a siesta was the furthest thing from Torres' mind.

'I've been resting last season too many games, so I'm fresh now,' said.

'I'm feeling good and now we have a very important game against a great team.

'It's an important game for us in the Champions League because we didn't start with the three points.'

That was in Chelsea's Group E game against Juventus, which saw them blow a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2.

It was also the first match in which Di Matteo started all three of Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar in the same team.

He did so again on Saturday, despite question marks over whether the trio could function together as a unit – especially away from home.

Lie down: Torres says he did not play enough football last year

Lie down: Torres says he did not play enough football last year

Torres scoffed at the pundits who doubted the enterprise, saying: 'They are not experts.'

He added: 'If you have great players, you have to use them. That gives you more chances to score and to win.

'Arsenal are a great team in possession but we were not scared to keep the ball.

'Also, this is the best way to defend, and this is one of the main reasons why Chelsea are not conceding too many goals, because we have the ball and we do it with quality.

'So why can't all of these kinds of players play together'

Despite deserving to win, Chelsea's failure to punish Arsenal on the break allowed their opponents to go close to equalising more than once.

Torres was largely to blame, wasting several opportunities in an up-and-down performance that saw him score a brilliant goal, bully Laurent Koscielny all afternoon but still lack fluency in the final third.

Attack: Torres thinks all the creative players can be deployed at once

Attack: Torres thinks all the creative players can be deployed at once

He admitted: 'We created so many chances on the counter-attack. We couldn't score the third one and should have killed the game.'

Di Matteo was delighted with Torres' contribution and the increasing understanding between Mata, Hazard and Oscar.

But he added: 'We have not been together for much time and that shows sometimes, so it is just a matter of working on the training ground to try to improve.'

Di Matteo also played down his own side's title chances, saying: 'It's only six games into the league.

'But it gives you confidence and it gives you belief. And, going forward, hopefully it will give us a good lift.'

Hard to handle: Juan Mata was sublime on Saturday

Hard to handle: Juan Mata was sublime on Saturday

All the talk pre-match had been about how John Terry would react after being found guilty by an independent Football Association panel of using racist language towards Anton Ferdinand.

What slipped under the radar somewhat was Frank Lampard missing a third successive match – although he was injured on Tuesday night.

Lampard's lack of game time was a hot potato during the reign of Andre Villas-Boas last season.

Di Matteo said: 'It is always difficult to leave a player out.

'All the guys who started are internationals as well but, because we are playing so many games, there is room for everybody.

'That is the only way we can achieve anything, by using all of the squad.'

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini fears David Silva burn-out

Manchester City boss Mancini fears Silva burn-out

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UPDATED:

10:02 GMT, 25 September 2012

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has pleaded with Spain to help stop David Silva suffering from burn-out.

The Spanish forward has made a low key start to the campaign and been left on the bench three times.

Night off: David Silva at Alicia Keys' Manchester Cathedral concert on Monday night

Night off: David Silva at Alicia Keys' Manchester Cathedral concert on Monday night

Silva started Sunday's Premier League encounter against Arsenal but was far from his best in the 1-1 draw.

And Mancini feels the 26-year-old is still feeling the effects of his international exertions during the summer.

Silva's season ended on July 1 with victory in the Euro 2012 final but
he was then called up for an August 15 friendly in Puerto Rico, just
days after returning to pre-season training with City.

Struggle: Man City forward David Silva has been below par

Struggle: Man City forward David Silva has been below par

Mancini said: 'It is difficult for him – he is a human being and is probably not 100 per cent. We can only solve this problem by working harder – that's the only way to improve.

'I don't think he needs a rest. He played in the European Championship and after that he twice went travelling to Puerto Rico and to Spain to play Saudi Arabia.

'That may be the reason he was so tired – he is not fresh. Spain could help us with this.'

Close watch: City boss Roberto Mancini and David Silva

Close watch: City boss Roberto Mancini and David Silva

Two youngsters are hoping to make their debut for the Blues in Tuesday's Capital One Cup tie against Aston Villa.

George Evans, the 17-year-old son of former City player and physio Ronnie Evans has been called into the squad after impressing in pre-season. The England Under-19 midfielder, from Cheadle, is a lifelong City fan.

Another local lad, Stretford Grammar School pupil Jordi Hiwula, is also poised to get the call after starting the season with three goals in four games for the Under-21s.

Abdul Razak, Denis Suarez and Luca Scapuzzi could also be involved against Villa, while Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli are set to lead the line.

Injuries to Maicon, Micah Richards, James Milner and Samir Nasri mean that Mancini's original plan to change all 11 starters from Sunday's game may have to be shelved.

Mancini said: 'We will change all of the players if it is possible, but we have four players injured at the moment.

'It's the only English trophy I have not won, but we want to win the championship again. That is our target, and if we also win the League Cup, OK.

'But our target has to be the title.

'At the moment we have Richards, Maicon, Nasri and Milner all out injured, and they can't play. I hope we can have two or three young players.'

London 2012 Olympics: Mo Farah reaches 5,000m final

Farah on track for long-distance double as Brit secures place in 5,000m final

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UPDATED:

10:39 GMT, 8 August 2012

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LIVE RESULTS |
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MEDALS TABLE

Mo Farah booked his place in the final of the 5,000m after finishing third in Wednesday morning's heat.

Farah remains on track for a golden double after winning the 10,000m on Saturday night.

Farah's coach, Alberto Salazar, said on Tuesday he thought the 29-year-old had recovered well from his exertions in the longer race, but Farah was still made to work hard to advance in a time of 13 minutes 26 seconds.

On track: Mo Farah is safely through to the final of the 5,000m

On track: Mo Farah is safely through to the final of the 5,000m

Onwards and upwards: Mo Farah can look forward to a couple of days off before Friday's 5,00m final

Onwards and upwards: Mo Farah can look forward to a couple of days off before Friday's 5,00m final

'It was pretty difficult,' Farah told the BBC. 'I was a bit tired, it took a bit more out of me than I was expecting, but I'm really happy with where I am now and I've got a couple of days off.

'I kept getting caught, there was a lot of pushing and shoving going on, that's what happens in the heats. Hopefully it will settle down in the final.

'I'm going to go out and give it 110 per cent, that's all you can do. It just depends how my legs allow me (to run).

'I will have done 50 laps around that track [by the end of the 5,000m final] and it wasn't the easiest 10k, but I've got a great medical team. I'll be in good hands.'

Two good: Mo Farah is on course to win a second gold medal after reaching the 5,000m final

Two good: Mo Farah is on course to win a second gold medal after reaching the 5,000m final

Rough stuff: Mo Farah admitted there was a bit of pushing and shoving in the 5,000m heat

Rough stuff: Mo Farah admitted there was a bit of pushing and shoving in the 5,000m heat

Tactics and timing: Mo Farah made sure he did just enough to qualify for the final of the 5,000m final

Tactics and timing: Mo Farah made sure he did just enough to qualify for the final of the 5,000m final

Euro 2012: England players to begin training

Holidays are over! Hard work starts now for rested England stars

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UPDATED:

14:47 GMT, 22 May 2012

Roy Hodgson will have the chance to start working with the bulk of the England squad for the first time ahead of Euro 2012 when they report to their Manchester base on Wednesday afternoon.

Hodgson has had to wait three weeks since becoming manager to link up with new skipper Steven Gerrard and the majority of the players chosen to play at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

The conclusion of the Barclays Premier League season and the need for players to take a short break before the summer exertions has delayed Hodgson's involvement with the squad.

Chilling out: Wayne Rooney has been taking time out in Las Vegas

Chilling out: Wayne Rooney has been taking time out in Las Vegas

Euro 2012

It leaves the former West Brom boss just 19 days and two friendly internationals against Norway and Belgium to hone his plans before the Euro 2012 opener with France on June 11.

The players will undergo their first training sessions with Hodgson on Wednesday and Thursday before flying out to Oslo on Friday for the game with Norway the following day.

It is the first time they have been together since the 3-2 defeat by Holland at Wembley in late February – and it will be next week before a full compliment of players is at Hodgson's disposal.

Strike it lucky: Jermain Defoe has been relaxing in Cannes ahead of Euro 2012

Strike it lucky: Jermain Defoe has been relaxing in Cannes ahead of Euro 2012

The Chelsea contingent of John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Gary Cahill – plus stand-by player Daniel Sturridge – have been given extra time off after the club's Champions League heroics.

They will not report for duty until next Tuesday when England link-up at their accustomed Hertfordshire base ahead of the home clash with Belgium at Wembley on June 2.

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is also working to the same schedule after playing with a minor injury during the latter part of the campaign.

Double act: Manchester City's James Milner and Gareth Barry played golf

Double act: Manchester City's James Milner and Gareth Barry played golf

But in any case Rooney is suspended for England's opening two Euro games and his first chance to be involved in the tournament will be against Ukraine on June 19.

Hodgson has still to decide whether Rooney will play against Belgium given that he has to make alternative plans against France and then Sweden.

Andy Carroll, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck are the other striking options in the squad.

Main man: Roy Hodgson will work with the England squad for the first time

Main man: Roy Hodgson will work with the England squad for the first time

The main injury concern of the players reporting on Wednesday continues to be Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker.

Parker, who skippered his country against Holland, was troubled by an Achilles injury during the latter part of the domestic campaign and he will be assessed by the England medical team.

Hodgson was optimistic about his chances when he announced his squad a week ago but will not make a final decision until May 29 – the date the final Euro squad needs to be submitted.

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson is on stand-by should Parker be ruled out.

Victoria Pendleton misses out in keirin – World Track Championships

Pendleton fails to make keirin final as sprint exertions take toll on British star

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UPDATED:

11:13 GMT, 7 April 2012

Victoria Pendleton, fresh from her ninth Track Cycling World Championships title, failed to qualify for the keirin final.

The 31-year-old, racing in her final World Championships and with nine titles to her name, needed two opportunities to advance to the second round, before finishing sixth in the minor final to place 12th overall.

Australia's Anna Meares, beaten by Pendleton in the sprint semi-final yesterday, successfully defended her title.

Poised: Victoria Pendleton (left) came through the keirin at the second time of asking in Melbourne

Poised: Victoria Pendleton (left) came through the keirin at the second time of asking in Melbourne

In the non-Olympic 4km men's individual pursuit, Geraint Thomas clocked 4mins 17.265secs.

The
Briton was in the first heat and his early advantage lasted until the
fifth when New Zealand's Westley Gough clocked 4:17.001.

Rohan Dennis posted 4:16.051 in the penultimate heat to usurp Gough as leader.

Leading from the front: Laura Trott is in control of the women's omnium in Melbourne

Leading from the front: Laura Trott is in control of the women's omnium in Melbourne

Dennis' Australian team-mates Michael Hepburn and Jack Bobridge, the world record holder, then met in the final heat.

Hepburn claimed victory in 4:13.224,
with Bobridge clocking 4:14.783 to set up another meeting between the
pair later this evening.

Better luck next time: Geraint Thomas finished fifth in the men's individual pursuit

Better luck next time: Geraint Thomas finished fifth in the men's individual pursuit

Dennis will be targeting victory over Gough in the bronze medal ride-off in order for the hosts to claim a clean sweep of the podium.

Thomas was fifth and is now set to recuperate for tomorrow's Madison, which he is set to ride in partnership with Ben Swift.

Andre Villas-Boas was sacked too soon, says David Luiz

Villas-Boas was sacked too soon! Chelsea defender Luiz stands by former boss

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UPDATED:

08:36 GMT, 16 March 2012

Chelsea defender David Luiz believes Roman Abramovich was too quick to sack Andre Villas-Boas as manager.

Villas-Boas was axed after losing to West Bromwich at the start of March following the breakdown of his relationship with the senior players.

Luiz was close to the former Porto coach and in an interview with Brazilian TV he said: 'I'm really sad, as Andre was a really capable professional. Unfortunately, he didn't have the time to show his true value at Chelsea.

Loyal: David Luiz was close to sacked Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas

Loyal: David Luiz was close to sacked Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas

'He didn't have the chance. You cannot doubt a professional like him, who won five titles last season and was feted by everyone. But he didn't have enough time at Chelsea.'

Caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo has led the Blues to three straight wins since stepping up .

Luiz added: 'We are a united team but, unfortunately, we couldn't get the results that Andre deserved.'

Luiz is determined to play in Chelsea's FA Cup clash with Leicester, despite hobbling out of Stamford Bridge after the Champions League triumph over Napoli.

He could barely walk following Wednesday night's thrilling 4-1 extra-time win, having played the full 120 minutes of the last-16 second-leg clash.

But the defender, who arguably had one of his best games in a Chelsea jersey, insisted he did not need a rest for Sunday's cup quarter-final.

Gone: Andre Villas-Boas was shown the door after losing at The Hawthorns

Gone: Andre Villas-Boas was shown the door after losing at The Hawthorns

A limping Luiz said: 'It's my ankle. I hurt it when I got a kick but that's normal. This is football.

'I'll go to the training ground for treatment to help me for Sunday. I want to play.'

Chelsea could make wholesale changes after their midweek exertions, including resting captain John Terry, who failed to complete the Napoli match.

That was only the 31-year-old's second game back following his remarkable recovery from knee surgery but his leadership qualities have already shone through.

Three in a row: Roberto Di Matteo has made a flying start as interim boss

Three in a row: Roberto Di Matteo has made a flying start as interim boss

Luiz said: 'For Chelsea, it is important to have all the players back from injury.

'JT is the captain and a legend for the club. He is a fantastic player and of course it makes me happy when he plays.'

Another player deserving of a rest is Ramires, who never stopped running on Wednesday night.

Luiz said of his former Benfica team-mate: 'The last 20 minutes, it was impossible for some of us to walk and he was running box to box. This is Ramires. He is unbelievable. He is a fantastic player. I'm happy because he plays for my team.'