Tag Archives: hurdle

Cheltenham Festival 2013: Day one inspection at 10.30am due winter weather

Concern on day one at Cheltenham with early morning inspection set after parts of the course are left frozen by winter weather

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

07:04 GMT, 12 March 2013

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UPDATED:

08:15 GMT, 12 March 2013

Cheltenham will hold an inspection at 10.30am today ahead of what is predicted to be the coldest-ever start to the Festival.

Although the covers were put down at the track over the weekend, officials report the track to be frozen in a few places this morning after a wind chill of -12C overnight.

Over 55,000 spectators are expected to
attend the first day of the meeting when nine horses, including three
previous winners – Binocular, Hurricane Fly and reigning champion Rock
On Ruby – will line up in the Champion Hurdle.

Bleak: Cheltenham will host an inspection after temperatures plummeted to -12C overnight

Bleak: Cheltenham will host an inspection after temperatures plummeted to -12C overnight

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Clerk of the course Simon Claisse said: 'We are frozen in places but it seems to be small areas. We can't really tell the extent of the frozen areas until we start to take the covers up.

'If the weather does what we expect it to and the temperature gets up to 3C by 12 noon, we should be kicking off as planned at 1.30pm.

'The wind chill dropped to -12C overnight and it was still -9C at 5am today.

'The is sun is out now and if we get an hour or two of sunshine on it, it should start to move.

'If we get some cloud cover, the rate at which that will happen will obviously slow.'

Frozen: As many as 55,000 spectators are expected to arrive for the opening day of the Festival

Frozen: As many as 55,000 spectators are expected to arrive for the opening day of the Festival

Claisse says he remains 'optimistic' about the meeting going ahead as planned.

He told Channel 4's The Morning Line: '90 per cent of the course is fine but obviously we can't clear it as fit to race until it's 100 per cent OK.

'(The problem areas) tend to be on some of the take-offs and landings and some of the wider ground. We have got fresh ground seven or eight yards on the inside, but you just have to be a bit careful of a horse that's going wide.

'It's on those areas that were worn a little bit in October, November and December, that's where the frost has got in under the covers.

'We will look at everything we can possibly do to ensure the meeting goes ahead. If we have to, we will go round any fences or hurdles.

Covered up: Cheltenham remain confident that racing will go ahead on the first day of the Festival

Covered up: Cheltenham remain confident that racing will go ahead on the first day of the Festival

'We are not running on the cross
country course until 4pm this afternoon and the afternoon temperature is
4C or 5C, so it may take a little bit longer to get fit when the sun
comes out, but should be OK by 4.

'I remain optimistic but you just
never quite know what is happening with this weather. Our experiences
last night were beyond anything we've seen before.'

The process of lifting the covers is
expected to be completed by 1.15pm with the traditional curtain raiser,
the William Hill Supreme Novices Hurdle, due off 15 minutes later.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had a winning horse at Doncaster

Ferguson's nous extends from the pitch to the racecourse with win in Doncaster

PUBLISHED:

18:39 GMT, 1 March 2013

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UPDATED:

18:39 GMT, 1 March 2013

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was in the winner's enclosure at Doncaster after Empire Levant made a winning start to his career over fences in the 32Red Novices' Chase.

The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old was a 4-5 favourite on his first
appearance since failing to complete a hurdle race at Aintree in late October and was sent straight to the lead by Daryl Jacob.

Winners enclosure: Sir Alex Ferguson (left) with Empire Lavant and jockey Daryl Jacob after their victory at Doncaster

Winners enclosure: Sir Alex Ferguson (left) with Empire Lavant and jockey Daryl Jacob after their victory at Doncaster

Largely jumping quickly and accurately, all appeared to be going well for
favourite-backers until the grey made a real mess of the fifth fence from home, bringing him right back to the rest of the field.

However, he was good and neat at the remaining four fences in the home straight and found enough for pressure to hold off the determined Speed Steed by two and a quarter lengths.

Empire Levant is owned by Ferguson and Ged Mason and carries the colours of Grand National contenders What A Friend and Harry The Viking.

Sharing a joke: Ferguson and Jacob chat after the win

Sharing a joke: Ferguson and Jacob chat after the win

Australian Open 2013: Venus Williams wins first round

Venus powers through to continue fine form after recovering from illness

and improved her
ranking to No 24 by year's end.

Easy does it: Venus Williams cruised into the second round of the Australian Open with a comfortable win

Easy does it: Venus Williams cruised into the second round of the Australian Open with a comfortable win

Williams could meet Maria Sharapova in the third round at Melbourne Park and was pleased to have negotiated the first hurdle with the minimum of fuss.

The American said: 'It's nice to spend less time on court and not be in long sets.

'A win is a win no matter what it is, but it's nice when it's more routine.'

Good game: Williams shakes hands with Galina Voskoboeva and was watched by sister Serena (below)

Good game: Williams shakes hands with Galina Voskoboeva and was watched by sister Serena (below)

Serena Williams

There were also wins for in-form fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, sixth seed Li Na and home favourite Sam Stosur.

Radwanska, the winner of the warm-up events in Auckland and Sydney, looked in danger of dropping her first set of 2013 when Australian wild card Bojana Bobusic served for the opener at 5-4 but the Pole upped her level and rattled off the next nine games to go through 7-5 6-0.

Nervy moments: Agnieszka Radwanska overcame a sluggish start to beat Bojana Bobusic in straight sets

Nervy moments: Agnieszka Radwanska overcame a sluggish start to beat Bojana Bobusic in straight sets

Li, the runner-up here in 2011, eased past Kazakhstan's Sesil Karatantcheva 6-1 6-3 but Stosur was made to work harder by Chang Kai-Chen of Chinese Taipei.

Ninth seed Stosur has only managed to reach the fourth round of her home grand slam and had her nervy moments once again before securing a 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 triumph.

A new start for racing as Clare Balding is the new face of Channel 4

Channel 4 count on Clare class to clear the first hurdle with racing coverage

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 31 December 2012

A New Year and a new era for Channel 4 racing begin on Tuesday with a whimper and without the two most recognisable names and faces in the sport.

Frankie Dettori, who as a Flat jockey would in any case be on holiday at this time of the year, is banned for six months for a drug offence while John McCririck has been swept away by a broom wielded with perhaps hasty gusto by the incoming production company.

Love him or loathe him, ‘Big Mac’ boasts a profile few in horse racing can match.

Channel hopping: Clare Balding will front the racing on Channel 4

Channel hopping: Clare Balding will front the racing on Channel 4

The whimper for the relaunch of the sole remaining terrestrial coverage was guaranteed when Cheltenham postponed their New Year’s Day meeting on Monday due to waterlogged ground. Poor Clare Balding, and there has been no other occasion to think that this annus mirabilis.

Denied a proper ‘goodbye’ from her BBC racing role by the weather last week, she will be restricted to a Channel 4 ‘hello’ from Nicky Henderson’s stables in Lambourn and not from a race meeting.

Perhaps not the greatest omen. This is more a case of going through the top of the first fence rather than hitting the ground running.

La Balding will be fine. Better than that. She will be her usual excellent self, as less prejudiced observers recognised long before her unmitigated triumph at the Olympic Games.

Large than life: John McCririck will no longer be part of the Channel 4 racing team

Large than life: John McCririck will no longer be part of the Channel 4 racing team

A real pro, she thrives on good old-fashioned hard work, journalistic rigour and unbridled enthusiasm.

A small quibble. A little less of the breathless whispering, please.

Hushed tones have never been McCririck’s style and there was never any chance of this largest of larger-than-life characters going quietly.

‘It is clearly a case of age discrimination,’ the 72-year-old told Sportsmail. ‘It is illegal what they (Channel 4) have done. But what can you do I never missed a day’s work and I don’t think I was ever late. My ability is unimpaired. I am very sad.’

McCririck remains particularly aggrieved about both the manner of his dismissal and what he regards as some implied criticism. ‘Thirty years, no consultation and I am rung 30 minutes before a press release is distributed.

Missing face: Frankie Dettori will not be on Channel 4 as he is serving a six month ban

Missing face: Frankie Dettori will not be on Channel 4 as he is serving a six month ban

‘And they talk about looking for a more journalistic approach to the context. I won two British Press Awards and I was a former Campaigning Journalist of the Year. This was a deliberate attempt to humiliate and demean me. It is very hurtful.’

McCririck may come across as something of a dinosaur but he has never been frightened to get dirty at the coal face, asking the difficult questions, confronting the controversial issues and holding to account those deserving of close scrutiny.

Part of the team: Emma Spencer will be part of the Channel 4 team

Part of the team: Emma Spencer will be part of the Channel 4 team

He formed an odd but expert betting partnership with Tanya Stevenson, who will continue in her role. The problem for new producers IMG Sports Media is that they are following a hard act in Highflyer, who in 28 years won several prestigious television awards while establishing a deserved reputation for excellence.

This was never more evident than in last Saturday’s final programme from the old regime when three times racing writer of the year Alastair Down, John Francome and McCririck, the three main casualties of change, demonstrated sheer class with the most dignified of farewells.

Down, in particular, was at his lyrical and poetic best in talking about jump racing being ‘the very stuff of life’, ‘nourishment for the soul’ and a ‘magnetic pull stronger than the very poles’ against a pictorial background of wonderful memories from a high-quality back catalogue.

‘If the devil could cast his nets (he would catch) some wonderful people involved in making these programmes behind the scenes,’ Down said.

Line up: Channel 4 have taken over all racing coverage from the BBC

Line up: Channel 4 have taken over all racing coverage from the BBC

‘Haway the lads,’ the Newcastle United-supporting McCririck concluded as Stevenson moved to embrace the whiskered one.

It is doubtful whether his encouragement was intended for the lads, and lasses, who from today represent the terrestrial custodians of the Sport of Kings.

The public will be watching and so will racing.

Mark Selby reaches williamhill.com UK Championship final

Selby on top of the world after reaching UK Championship final

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UPDATED:

22:03 GMT, 8 December 2012

Mark Selby reached the top of the snooker world for a second time on Saturday night and pledged to take the pressure off himself this time around, starting with Sunday's williamhill.com UK Championship final.

Selby held the game's number-one ranking for 14 months between September last year and November this, losing it to Judd Trump when the Bristol potter landed the International Championship.

No pressure: Mark Selby at the table

No pressure: Mark Selby at the table

But with Trump falling at the first
hurdle in his defence of this title in York, Selby knew reaching the
final would put him back at the top of the ladder and he ticked that
achievement off on Saturday, completing a 9-4 victory over rugged
veteran Mark Davis.

He now meets long-time friend Shaun
Murphy in a final which will be his first ever UK showpiece, and he is
determined to learn from his previous reign at number one in order to
try and lift the trophy.

He achieved top billing last time with a win at the Shanghai Masters, but that was his last significant success.

His time in power was barren and he wants to avoid that happening again.

'It's a great feat to get back to
number one, there have only been nine number ones other than me,' he
said. 'Maybe when I was there before I put too much pressure on myself. I
need to learn from that and try and go out there and enjoy it tomorrow.

Going down: Mark Davis eyes up a shot in defeat

Going down: Mark Davis eyes up a shot in defeat

'I didn't come here this week with the aim of being number one. It's great that I am, but if I don't win tomorrow…'

Murphy and Selby are often off-the-radar players at events, despite their decorated resumes.

Here they have outlasted the more fancied Mark Allen, John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Trump.

As well as being evenly matched on
the baize, the two are good friends off it, and for Selby tomorrow will
be the realisation of a long-held dream.

'Me and Shaun haven't played each
other for a while but we have grown up together through the junior ranks
and always been good friends,' he said.

'I always said to him that it would
be great for us to play in a ranking final and now we are. For whatever
reason before it hasn't happened, so it will be good.'

Selby's top score today was a
second-frame 121, but he looked a little off it at the Barbican, taking a
long time to put his veteran opponent to bed.

He will need to be sharper against
Murphy – a man buzzing from a five-frame comeback against Ali Carter
last night – and he admits he has work to do.

Back on top: Mark Selby relishing a final berth

Back on top: Mark Selby relishing a final berth

'I was missing some easy balls today and I need to work on that tomorrow,' he said.

'I am definitely motivated. I didn't play fantastic and, although it was a good match of snooker, I need to play a lot better.'

Defeat marked the end of the road at
this tournament for Davis, a seasoned pro who at the age of 40 has
finally made a serious impact on the top level of the sport.

This was his third ranking
semi-final of the week but he failed to deliver performances like those
which saw him beat the likes of John Higgins and Matthew Stevens in the
earlier rounds.

'I was a little bit nervous but I
enjoyed it. In the first few I didn't quite get into position, but
getting a 70-odd settled me down. I played poorly tonight, though,' he
said.

'But I'm not going to let it affect me in a bad way. I've had a great week and beaten some top players.

'Even though I've been a pro for 21
years, there have been some new things for me and I know that I will
learn from it next time.'

Chelsea still haven"t sussed it out as they crash out of Champions League

Big-time Chelsea still haven't sussed it out after holders surrender Champions League at first hurdle

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UPDATED:

08:18 GMT, 6 December 2012

When the annual list of the biggest clubs in Europe is officially announced in February, Chelsea will be the fifth name on it.

Bigger than the 2010 winners, Inter Milan. Bigger than two-time champions Juventus.

Bigger even than AC Milan, the seven-time kings of Europe. Turnover reached record levels when the Blues won the Champions League for the first time, raking in 48.46million from the competition alone.

Unlucky: Fernando Torres scored two goals in Chelsea's victory but the holders went out

Unlucky: Fernando Torres scored two goals in Chelsea's victory but the holders went out

This embarrassing exit has left a gaping hole in their season. The European champions have been turned over, becoming the first defending champions in history to be bombed out before the draw for the second round.

That will take place in Nyon, Switzerland, on December 20 when the great and good of European football convene at UEFA HQ.

Chelsea will be nowhere near the main event. Instead it is Europa League football for them after their failure to get out of Group E.

It will not rest easily with Roman Abramovich, the man who fired Chelsea's winning manager Roberto Di Matteo and replaced him with Rafa Benitez.

At least Benitez has won a game, at the fourth time of asking, but there is a bigger picture here.

Absent: John Terry watched the match from the stands

Absent: John Terry watched the match from the stands

Good enough Now is the time for the likes of Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres to show their class

Good enough Now is the time for the likes of Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres to show their class

They really thought they had it cracked this time, especially after Didier Drogba struck the winning penalty against Bayern Munich back in May.

The official handover of the European Cup begins during a series of stuffy ceremonies in the week leading up to the final at Wembley on May 25.

They may as well take it to Switzerland in a couple of weeks time after they surrendered the Champions League just six months after winning it.

Stadium tour guides can still show giddy tourists the trophy but it will not be on display in that glass cabinet in the West Stand for much longer.

Emphatic: Chelsea won 6-1, but Juventus sealed their exit by beating Shakhtar

Emphatic: Chelsea won 6-1, but Juventus sealed their exit by beating Shakhtar

The club who broke the big cup over the summer and had to send it for emergency repairs are out after Shakhtar Donetsk were beaten by Juventus.

Chelsea did their bit with goals from David Luiz, two – yes, two – from Fernando Torres, Gary Cahill, Juan Mata and Oscar, but it came too late after defeat in Donetsk and that lamentable performance in Turin.

Years ago Chelsea's former chief executive Peter Kenyon claimed his big-spending club had to win the European Cup at least twice before they could be considered to be among the elite.

After last night's exit, there is clearly more to it than just money.

Petr Cech and Gary Cahill rue Shakhtar v Juventus result

Cech and Cahill rue Shakhtar defeat as European champions crash out at first hurdle

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UPDATED:

00:58 GMT, 6 December 2012

Chelsea duo Petr Cech and Gary Cahill were left to blame results against Juventus as the reason for the Blues becoming the first defending Champions League winners to fall at the group stage tonight.

Chelsea thrashed FC Nordsjaelland 6-1 to grab a first win of Rafael Benitez's reign, but it was not enough as Juve claimed a 1-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk.

'We knew that it could happen,' Cech told Sky Sports 2. 'We knew that if Donetsk didn't win then we would be out. Unfortunately that is the reality.

Out: Chelsea bowed out of the Champions League

Out: Chelsea bowed out of the Champions League

'We did what we could. We had a good performance and scored six goals.'

Chelsea's fate had rested in the hands of Shakhtar after a stuttering campaign that saw the Blues lose at Juventus as well in Ukraine.

Cech, however, believes the opening day 2-2 home draw with the Italian champions was the most damaging result, when his side squandered a 2-0 lead.

'You have results where we lost away to Donetsk and Juventus but I think the main difference was the draw against Juve at home,” said Cech, who saved a penalty tonight when the game was still goalless.

'We were 2-0 up and then ended 2-2. If you drop too many points in the group then you can't go through.'

Cahill echoed the thoughts of his goalkeeper, saying: 'The two results against Juve were damaging for us.

'I've just said that with 10 points sometimes you through but that was not to be in our group. We had to do more than that.'

Benitez admitted there was a hollow feeling in the Chelsea dressing-room afterwards but was determined to focus on the positives of his first win in charge.

Under-fire striker Fernando Torres scored twice in the rout with David Luiz, Juan Mata, Cahill and Oscar also getting on the scoresheet.

'I think always when you win it is a positive. When it is at home it is even better,' he said.

'The way we won, we had 32 attempts and 18 on target, is really good.

'When you win you have to be happy but at same time we are disappointed as we didn't progress.'

Dependent: Fernando Torres scored two goals, but results elsewhere ensure they finished third in the group

Dependent: Fernando Torres scored two goals, but results elsewhere ensure they finished third in the group

Another one: Torres, who has struggled for goals, put in his second for the night

Another one: Torres, who has struggled for goals, put in his second for the night

Benitez will now attempt to pick up the pieces of their failed Champions League defence with Chelsea dropping into the Europa League.

The Spaniard will also need to arrest a slump in league form that has seen them drop 10 points behind leaders Manchester United, starting with an away trip to Sunderland on Saturday.

'We have to play another competition but at least we showed the level and quality we asked for,' he said.

'We now have to think about Sunderland and the Europa League.

Misery: Juventus secured a win in Ukraine to ensure they finished top of the group

Misery: Juventus secured a win in Ukraine to ensure they finished top of the group

'But the game was so good today and we can see a lot of positives for the future. We pressed well, we created chances and scored a lot of goals.

'If you ask ask about Fernando also he scored goals.'

Asked about Torres' contribution tonight, Benitez added: 'He has to score. He was playing well and the team was helping him.

'If we create chances he will score goals.'

Wayne Rooney: Manchester United won"t make same Champions League mistake

We got punished last season, but we won't make the same mistake this year, says Rooney as United prepare for Cluj test

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UPDATED:

10:24 GMT, 1 October 2012

Wayne Rooney insists Manchester United won't make the same mistakes as last season as they prepare for their Champions League clash with CFR Cluj on Tuesday night.

The Old Trafford club crashed out at the first hurdle last year after finishing third in their group.

United travel to the Romanian champions knowing if they can return to England with maximum points, they will have one foot into the knockout stages as both sides won their opening games.

Wayne Rooney

Sir Alex Ferguson

All smiles: Rooney and Sir Alex Ferguson appeared in relaxed mood on Monday morning

Flying Dutchman: Robin van Persie lunges in for a tackle during a United training session on Monday morning

Flying Dutchman: Robin van Persie lunges in for a tackle during a United training session on Monday morning

And that at least would be one objective for the season completed after last season's unexpected exit at the group phase.

'The Champions League is completely different to the Premier League,' said Wayne Rooney, who came off the bench in United's 3-2 defeat against Tottenham on Saturday.

'If you are not at your best you get punished, which is what happened to us last season.

'We have to make sure that won't happen again this year so this is a big game for us.

'Hopefully we will get a win which will put us in a good position to go through so early on in the group.'

After transforming United's performance, if not the result, at Old Trafford on Saturday, Rooney's contribution against Tottenham must surely put him in line for a start.

The 26-year-old is certainly up for the challenge given how highly he still rates the Champions League experience.

'I still think it is exciting,' said Rooney. 'It is a great competition to be in.

'You look at the teams involved and it is a great challenge for everyone. It is something I love playing in.'

Sir Alex Ferguson received some welcomed news on Monday when Jonny Evans was able to train ahead of his side's Champions League encounter.

Who are Roo laughing at: Ferdinand was also present

Who are Roo laughing at: Ferdinand was also present

Centre of attention: Kagawa trains alongside his tea-mates at Carrington

Centre of attention: Kagawa trains alongside his tea-mates at Carrington

Evans needed to be helped off at the end of United's defeat at Old Trafford.

And whilst Sir Alex Ferguson claimed the Northern Ireland international was only suffering from a dead leg, with so many defenders already injured, there was a worry Evans was about to join the casualty list. It does appear he will be available, though, and Rio Ferdinand was also present.

Silvestre

Jonny Evans

Welcome back: Former Man United defender Mikael Silvestre and Jonny Evans are put through their paces

Antonio Valencia, who missed Saturday's game with an ankle injury, was missing from the open portion of training, though, as was midfielder Michael Carrick.

Ferguson has changed his side's European routine this season, meaning they will do all their preparatory work at home before flying to Romania this afternoon.

Scott Wootton and Michael Keane were also amongst those training with the first team this morning, suggesting at least one of the youngsters will make the trip.

Heather Watson loses to Mona Barthel at Bell Challenge

Watson bows out of Bell Challange at first hurdle after Barthel defeat

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UPDATED:

07:41 GMT, 11 September 2012

Heather Watson suffered another first round exit after being defeated in the Bell Challenge in Quebec, but the Brit gave third seed Mona Barthel a big scare.

Watson, who also fell at the first hurdle in the US Open in her last outing, won the first set on a tie-break before her world No 36 ranked opponent levelled proceedings.

Barthel then capitalised as Watson appeared to run out of steam in the decider, the German 22-year-old advancing courtesy of a hard-fought 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 win in two hours and 38 minutes.

End of the road: Watson suffered another first-round defeat

End of the road: Watson suffered another first-round defeat

Roy Hodgson says playing Moldova is like playing Brazil

It's just like playing Brazil! Hodgson warns England not to be 'foolish' against Moldova

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UPDATED:

18:26 GMT, 3 September 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Roy Hodgson has told his players they cannot afford to be complacent as they take on minnows Moldova in Friday's 2014 World Cup qualifier.

Moldova will be most familiar to England's players and fans from the World Cup qualifiers the countries played in 1996.

Those saw the Three Lions rack up easy 3-0 and 4-0 wins but Hodgson was so determined for his players not to take Friday's match lightly that he will order them to imagine they were playing Brazil.

Careful now: Roy Hodgson has warned his charges against complacency

Careful now: Roy Hodgson has warned his charges against complacency

He said: 'I know that outside of our little group who are preparing for the game, there will be a lot of thought that Moldova are not very special, not very strong, but we certainly don't go into the game with that thought at all.

'We go into the game knowing they had a draw and a narrow defeat against Holland in the last qualifying campaign.

'If we are not aware of the fact that this is a major hurdle of the 10 hurdles we have to jump over then we would be very, very foolish.

Hurdle: Hodgson says England will not get an easy ride

Hurdle: Hodgson says England will not get an easy ride

'And, certainly, my message to the
players is that, “I don't care if they are called Moldova. As far as I'm
concerned, they could be called Brazil and we have to produce a
performance to win us the game”.

'And if it turns out that perhaps they are not that good after all then I will be very happy.

'But I'm expecting them to be good and certainly watching the Moldova v Albania game then they know how to play football.'

Get ready: Hodgson instructs Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard

Get ready: Hodgson instructs Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard

That Albania match was Moldova's most recent, a 0-0 friendly draw last month.

Hodgson added: 'They are like a lot of those teams – they are in that area to the side of Romania, close to Georgia and those parts of the old Soviet Union.

'They are technical players, players who are basically unknown outside of eastern Europe.

'Very few, if any of them, play in Moldova – they play in Russia or Ukraine and in quite good teams.

Research: Lampard and Co will watch videos of their opponents

Research: Lampard and Co will watch videos of their opponents

'So they are obviously highly-respected players but, of course, for us they are going to be pretty much unknown and we are doing as much research and as much video-watching as we can to get some sort of handle to what they will be like.

'We have to come to terms with what's the stadium going to be like, what's the atmosphere going to be like, what's the pitch going to be like – and how good are these players and relate that to the players we choose and make sure they go into the game with the best possible preparation.'