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Aston Villa keep tabs on Heerenveen"s prolific hitman Finnbogason as Bent nears exit

Aston Villa keep tabs on Heerenveen's prolific hitman Finnbogason as Bent nears exit

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UPDATED:

22:40 GMT, 12 December 2012

Aston Villa are monitoring the impressive form of Heerenveen striker Alfred Finnbogason.

Manager Paul Lambert has been alerted to the performances of the Iceland forward, 23, who has scored 12 goals in 14 Eredivisie games this season.

A wanted man: Alfred Finnbogason is attracting the attentions of Aston Villa

A wanted man: Alfred Finnbogason is attracting the attentions of Aston Villa

Finnbogason only joined Heerenveen from Belgian side Lokeren for a bargain 1million in the summer but has blossomed under the tutelage of their coach, Holland strike legend Marco van Basten.

Heerenveen have a good record for developing strikers to sell on at a profit and may be willing to listen to offers.

Days are numbered: Darren Bent's unhappy Aston Villa stint is drawing to a close

Days are numbered: Darren Bent's unhappy Aston Villa stint is drawing to a close

Lambert needs more options with Darren Bent likely to leave in January once his hamstring injury clears up.

Villa have also shown interest in Celta Vigo striker Iago Aspas but he is considered too expensive. Swansea and Arsenal have also enquired.

Davis Love in contention at McGladrey Classic after round one

Englishman Owen and Ryder Cup captain Love start brightly at Sea Island

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UPDATED:

05:53 GMT, 19 October 2012

Hard work paid off for England's Greg Owen as he opened with a first round of 64 in The McGladrey Classic on Thursday.

Owen chipped in for birdie on the 11th, his second hole, and carded five more in a flawless six-under-par round at Sea Island Golf Club.

That left him two shots off the pace set by American duo Bud Cauley and Marco Dawson, with US Ryder Cup captain and tournament host Davis Love one behind Owen after a 65.

Good start: Greg Owen hits his drive off the ninth tee during the first round of the McGladrey Classic

Good start: Greg Owen hits his drive off the ninth tee during the first round of the McGladrey Classic

'I'm working really hard this week and it's starting to pay off,' said Owen, who had to go through the qualifying school to get back on the PGA Tour.

McGladrey Classic Leaderboard

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The Mansfield golfer is 93rd on the money list after playing last season on the second-tier Web.com Tour, when he admitted he was very disheartened with his game.

'I struggled the last four, maybe five years,' Owen said. 'This year I just played really solid. I've putted better, I've holed out better. And (hopefully) there's still more to come.'

Back to the day job: Davis Love III putts on the 15th green

Frustration: Gary Christian reacts to missing a birdie putt on the 16th

Back to the day job: Davis Love III putts on the 15th green on his return to the PGA Tour (left) while Gary Christian reacts to missing a birdie putt on the 16th (right)

Strong iron play was the key to Owen's round, with his longest birdie putt coming from just 11 feet.

'If the wind blows and the sun comes out this afternoon those greens could get really quick,' Owen added.

'You've got to hit golf shots. You've got doglegs either way. You've got to hit fairways and place the iron shots in a position where you can have a putt for birdie.'

Love admitted he was in need of some extra stimulation after the rigours of being Ryder Cup captain at Medinah and tournament host this week.

Life's a pitch: American Ryder Cup player Zach Johnson chips to the 15th green

Life's a pitch: American Ryder Cup player Zach Johnson chips to the 15th green

'The only adjustment I've made is more Red Bull to keep my energy up,' Love told PGATour.com.

'After the Ryder Cup I've been playing these last two weeks and I'm ready to play. The responsibilities, the parties and all that are a lot of fun, but when I get up in the morning I can tell I'm not getting a whole lot of rest.

'But I'm feeling good. I'm excited to play.'

Lance Armstrong latest: Brian Smith told cyclist he"d never take drugs and was sacked

Brian Smith: I told Lance I'd never take drugs… two weeks later I was sacked

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UPDATED:

23:10 GMT, 11 October 2012


Few years back: Brian Smith in his Motorola days

Few years back: Brian Smith in his Motorola days

It was the autumn of 1994 and I had joined Lance Armstrong on a training ride on the banks of Lake Como.

We had enjoyed a successful season as colleagues on the Motorola team. I was certainly feeling I’d done pretty well in my first year there. I’d won the British title and just completed my first grand tour at the Giro d’Italia. I’d also won the first European race of the season for Motorola. I’d made a contribution. Proved myself to be a good, solid pro.

But Lance wasn’t happy. He’d won the world road race title the previous year but was getting beaten. There were guys in the peloton he just couldn’t live with and what you have to understand about Lance is that he is a winner. He has to win and he could not handle losing.

That year Evgeni Berzin won the Giro and Marco Pantani emerged on the scene, winning a couple of stages.

So, as we’re riding side by side, the conversation turns to the subject of performance-enhancing drugs. He wants to know what I think. Did I think everyone was on them Was the only way to beat them to join them Would I take them

My dad was a Scottish international cyclist and before I turned pro he sat me down and made me promise that I would never fall into that world, that I would never take drugs.

I told Lance the story and told him I could never let down my dad. I’d rather fail as a cyclist than do that. We rode on.

Two weeks later, I was called to a meeting with Jim Ochowicz, who played a big part in Lance’s career and at the time was Motorola team manager. Jim told me I would not be getting a new contract for the following season. I was out.

Conversation: Armstrong asked Smith if he'd ever take drugs

Conversation: Armstrong asked Smith if he'd ever take drugs

I will never know what Lance was getting at that day. Was he seeing if I would be part of his ‘team’ or was I simply one of a number of people he was sounding out

But I have often wondered if saying yes to drugs on that ride would have made all the difference. Would he have kept me on the team Would I have had a different career Would I have been more successful, in terms of results as well as financially I certainly don’t think it helped me, saying no to Lance that day.

In David Walsh’s book, L.A. Confidentiel, he had a testimony from Steven Swart, who is a good friend and was still on the Motorola team in 1995. He claimed in Walsh’s book that the doping started at Motorola in 1995 and he was ostracised by the sport as a result. The power of Lance.

I made a living out of cycling and continue to do so. I’m the general manager of the Endura Racing team and I work as a commentator for Eurosport, ITV and Sky. I also got to ride in the Atlanta Olympics.

Shame: The revelations have stunned the cycling world - but some, like David Walsh, already had their suspicions

Shame: The revelations have stunned the cycling world – but some, like David Walsh, already had their suspicions

But my one great regret is that I never rode the Tour de France. I never raced in the biggest sporting event in the world.

I always knew riders were doping. But even I didn’t realise the full extent of the cheating that has been exposed by the astonishing evidence which USADA has published.

I feel I was cheated out of a ride on the tour and cheated out of a better living — and I’m no different to any rider at that time who took the decision not to dope and was not as successful as they should have been as a result.

As Lance was coming into the sport, cycling was starting to boom. There was serious money to be made and all those who went with Lance made serious money.

I’ve read the testimonies of his 11 team-mates and that’s fine. But they also made serious money and I don’t see any of them handing it back. I don’t see any of them handing back their big houses.

Escape: Armstrong's doping was not caught for many years

Escape: Armstrong's doping was not caught for many years

Christian Vande Velde has admitted to cheating as part of Lance’s gang but I don’t see him losing the big house on the golf course in Girona. These people made a lot of money cheating the sport and cheating people out of it.

A few years ago I set up the Braveheart Foundation and we support young Scottish cyclists financially. I have sometimes questioned whether I’m doing the right thing, encouraging young kids to go into cycling when it could end with drug abuse. I’ve wondered how I might feel if my two boys want to go into professional cycling.

But there are positives to come from all of this and we have a much cleaner sport today. I have no doubt that, in Bradley Wiggins, we have a clean Tour de France champion.

But on the road to this point there have been casualties. For me, it will always go back to that bike ride in Como.

Huddersfield 2 Watford 3: Deeney keeps his cool to seal stunning fightback

Huddersfield 2 Watford 3: Deeney keeps his cool to seal stunning fightback

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UPDATED:

17:23 GMT, 29 September 2012

Huddersfield squandered the chance to go top of the npower
Championship as Troy Deeney's late penalty earned Watford a dramatic
win.

Oliver Norwood's stunning free-kick handed the hosts, unbeaten in
six, the advantage, but Simon Grayson's men were stunned by a
second-half fightback from their struggling visitors.

Just cool: Watford's Troy Deeney (right) celebrates his winner

Just cool: Watford's Troy Deeney (right) celebrates his winner

MATCH FACTS

Huddersfield: Smithies, Hunt, Peter Clarke, Gerrard, Dixon, Norwood (Arfield 79), Clayton (Scannell 72), Southern, Ward, Novak, Beckford (Lee 79). Subs Not Used: Bennett, Woods, Wallace, Spencer.

Goals: Norwood 25,Lee 84.

Watford: Almunia, Cassetti, Neuton, Hall, Pudil, Hoban, Hogg, Abdi (Yeates 76), Chalobah (Smith 81), Deeney, Forestieri (Murray 90). Subs Not Used: Bond, Iwelumo, Forsyth, Doyley.

Booked: Cassetti,Smith.

Goals: Forestieri 68, Hall 83, Deeney 87 pen.

Att: 14,564

Ref: Gary Sutton (Lincolnshire).

Udinese loanee Fernando Forestieri netted his first goal for the club, Fitz Hall put the Hornets ahead and although substitute Alan Lee levelled, Deeney – making only his second appearance since being released from prison – kept his cool to win it from the spot.

The home side handed a debut to on-loan Leicester striker Jermaine Beckford and looked threatening early on, Keith Southern's header was destined for the back of the net only for Piccoli Neuton to clear off the line.

The Hornets' first chance arrived from a corner which was delivered by Forestieri and headed over by fellow Italian Marco Cassetti.

And they pressed again minutes later as Forestieri danced his way past Peter Clarke and hit a superb curling effort just wide of the far upright.

But it was the Terriers who broke the deadlock, and in some style too. Almen Abdi fouled Beckford and Norwood stepped up to steer home a breathtaking free-kick from 30 yards out.

It was the midfielder's third goal in as many matches, having only scored three in his fledgling career prior to that run, and it took his side temporarily top of the pile.

As the home fans rejoiced in that fact, Deeney, who served three months for affray, almost curtailed their celebrations but his header cleared the bar.

Forestieri should have sparked his team back to life early in the second half but he miscued wide when well placed.

Cool head: Deeney scores from the penalty spot

Cool head: Deeney scores from the penalty spot

The miss nonetheless served as encouragement to Gianfranco Zola's side and they drew level after 68 minutes when Forestieri's shot deflected off Clarke and crept past Alex Smithies.

Beckford's underwhelming afternoon was brought to an end 11 minutes from time as he made way for Lee but it was the away side who struck next before the veteran striker could make his mark.

Hall turned home substitute Mark Yeates' cross from close range and an upset was on the cards.

Lee, however, had other ideas and having replaced the man who made all the headlines pre-match, he looked set to have written one of his own when he netted a bullet header with six minutes left.

The final say went to Watford, though, when Cassetti was fouled in the box and Deeney converted the subsequent spot-kick for his first goal of the season.

Chavez Jnr faces losing 2m purse after failing drugs test after Martinez defeat

Chavez Jnr faces losing 2m Martinez purse after testing positive for cannabis

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UPDATED:

10:30 GMT, 20 September 2012

Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr could lose his $3million (1.9m) purse after testing positive for cannabis after his unanimous points defeat to Sergio Martinez last weekend.

The son of the Mexican legend lost his WBC middleweight title in Las Vegas, coming alive only in the last round he dropped Martinez.

But the Argentine recovered to hear the final bell and inflict a first defeat on Chavez Jnr.

In the dock: Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr (left) tested positive for cannabis

In the dock: Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr (left) tested positive for cannabis

'Julio Cesar Chavez Jr will have the opportunity to
explain the situation to the Nevada State Athletic Commission,' said a
spokesman for Top Rank, who promote the fighter.

Nevada boxing chief Keith Kizer confirmed one of the 32 fighters who were in action in Vegas last weekend tested positive for a banned substance, but refused to confirm his identity.

Winner: Sergio Martinez recovered from a knockdown to beat Chavez Jnr

Winner: Sergio Martinez recovered from a knockdown to beat Chavez Jnr

Chavez Jnr is no stranger to controversy having served a seven-month ban for testing positive for a banned diuretic after his 2009 win
over Troy Rowlands, which was changed to a no-contest.

He was also arrested on drink-drive charges in January and struggled to make the weight for his February bout with Marco Antonio Rubio.

Liverpool sell Alberto Aquilani to Fiorentina

Aquilani's Mersey hell finally over as Liverpool agree deal with Fiorentina for Kop flop

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UPDATED:

12:10 GMT, 3 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle says the Serie A club has signed Alberto Aquilani from Liverpool.

The Italy international failed to settle on Merseyside after moving there from Roma in 2009 fora fee of 20million.

Thanks for nothing: After three miserable years, Alberto Aquilani has left Liverpool

Thanks for nothing: After three miserable years, Alberto Aquilani has left Liverpool

Aquilani had two loan spells away from the club, first at Juventus and then last season at AC Milan.

The 28-year-old has, though, spent the pre-season with Liverpool, but has flown back early from the club's tour of North America to complete his move to La Viola.

Also in Italy, newly-promoted Sampdoria will start its first season back in Serie A with a one-point penalty for match-fixing after its plea bargain was accepted on Friday.

Serie B club Bari has been deducted five points and fined 68,000. Atalanta defender Andrea Masiello has been banned for 26 months for offences during his time at Bari.

Former teammates Alessandro Parisi, who is now with Torino, and Marco Rossi, now at Cesena, have been suspended for 24 months and 20 months, respectively.

More to follow….

Manchester United must "pay a little more" to land Lucas Moura after Sao Paulo confirm 29m snub

Man United must 'pay a little more' to land Lucas after Sao Paulo confirm 29m snub

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 20 July 2012

No go: United have had a fresh 30m bid rejected for Lucas Moura

Brazilian club Sao Paulo confirmed they have rejected Manchester United's 29m offer for midfielder Lucas Moura (pictured right).

United representatives met with Lucas's family and his agent Wagner Ribeiro on Tuesday night and are keen to tie up a deal.

Sao Paulo director Marco Aurelio Cunha said: 'Manchester United made a very important offer of 29m, but they would need to produce a little more. For us, only Neymar (in Brazil) is worth more.

'We do not need the money. The Brazilian economy is good, television pays us and we cannot complain.

'For us, it is still better to have a good player than lots of money in the bank.'

Mark van Bommel announces international retirement

Van Bommel hands the baton to Holland's next generation after announcing international retirement

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UPDATED:

17:25 GMT, 20 June 2012

Mark van Bommel has retired from international football following Holland's early elimination from Euro 2012, the Dutch football association have confirmed.

The 35-year-old midfielder said it was time to make way for the next generation after the Oranje lost all three group matches at the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.

Last time out: Mark van Bommel (right) won the last of his 79 caps in the 2-1 defeat to Germany

Last time out: Mark van Bommel (right) won the last of his 79 caps in the 2-1 defeat to Germany

'I don't want to retire,' Van Bommel said. 'Maybe there will a moment that the coach needs me in the future and then I will be available but for now it is time for talented young players.'

Van Bommel made his Netherlands debut in 2000 and won 79 caps, playing in two World Cups and one European Championship.

After helping the team reach the last 16 at the 2006 World Cup the midfielder announced that he would not be available for the national side as long Marco van Basten was coach.

The end of an era: Van Bommel and Arjen Robben applaud the fans after Holland's defeat to Portugal

The end of an era: Van Bommel and Arjen Robben applaud the fans after Holland's defeat to Portugal

But after Van Basten stepped down following Euro 2008, Van Bommel returned under new coach Bert van Marwijk – who is also his father-in-law – and played a key role in helping the Dutch reach the 2010 World Cup final.

Van Bommel has joined PSV Eindhoven for next season after a seven-year stint abroad playing for Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AC Milan.

Euro 2012: John O"Shea to be fit for Ireland

O'Shea winning race to be fit for Euro 2012 despite pulling out of friendly

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UPDATED:

07:44 GMT, 29 May 2012

Ireland stalwart John O’Shea is ready to declare himself fit for the Euro 2012 finals even though he has pulled out of a friendly in Italy on Tuesday.

The Sunderland defender has told manager Giovanni Trapattoni he is unwilling to risk his achilles injury in the warm-up match in Pistoia against a Select Tuscan XI.

But O’Shea, who worked alone with the Irish physios in Tuscany on Monday, is confident he is on target to be fit for next month’s European Championship finals.

Plenty to ponder: Giovanni Trapattoni (left) with assistant Marco Tardelli

Plenty to ponder: Giovanni Trapattoni (left) with assistant Marco Tardelli

Euro 2012

And although Trapattoni wanted the former Manchester United utility man to play on Tuesday, he has already pencilled him in for Monday’s final friendly against Hungary in Budapest.

Trapattoni said: 'John O’Shea is very happy. I would like him to start tomorrow but he prefers Monday against Hungary. We have time to decide.’

The Italian coach must name his final 23 for the tournament on Tuesday and it is still anticipated that Hull defender Paul McShane, who again sat out training with a sore heel, will be the unlucky man to miss out.

But with O’Shea and the latest worry Darren O’Dea also missing Monday’s session in the afternoon heat in Montecatini, McShane will remain with the squad until Hungary, just in case.

Trapattoni tried to name a starting line-up for Tuesday's game but the details were sketchy as he contemplates a number of aches and strains within the squad.

But it would appear to be Westwood, Foley, Dunne, Kelly, Ward, Hunt, Green, Gibson, McGeady, Cox and Walters. It is subject to change before and during the game.

In training: Ireland step up their Euro 2012 preparations in Italy

In training: Ireland step up their Euro 2012 preparations in Italy

The Ireland manager is confident his opponents, who are made up of players from nearby Serie C sides, will not repeat the anguish of a decade ago when Jason McAteer was injured in a routine game against locals in Izumo.

The blow, which came from a Cameroon defender, forced him to miss the opening match of the 2002 World Cup Finals, against Cameroon.

Trapattoni said: 'I chose coaches Aldo Firicano and Ennio Pellegrini who are friends of mine so it is ok. I have told them we need only a friendly.’

Trapattoni was in light-hearted mood as he entertained Italian and Irish journalists after the open training session. And he looked in his element again when he and his players were officially welcomed to the city by dignitaries at a lengthy ceremony last night.

Yet earlier in the day he had expressed his sincere sadness at the arrests in the Italian training camp by police investigating match-fixing allegations.

Race is on: Ireland's players are fighting for a starting spot next month

Race is on: Ireland's players are fighting for a starting spot next month

Lazio captain Stefano Mauri and former Genoa midfielder Omar Milanetto were among 14 people held for questioning.

Juventus coach Antonio Conte and Italy defender Domenico Criscito have also been questioned by police and Criscito has been excluded from the Italians’ Euro 2012 squad.

Trapattoni was quizzed at length about the controversy when he appeared before the cameras in the afternoon but ignored it when he greeted a large audience in front of the famous Montecatini spas.

He said: 'When John Delaney came to me I asked him if he chose me because I was born on St Patrick’s Day. I told him I don’t do miracles, only the players do miracles.’

Simon Cox wants West Brom talks over summer exit

Fed-up Cox demands Baggies talks as Irish striker fears for Euro 2012 spot

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UPDATED:

10:45 GMT, 17 April 2012

Wantaway Simon Cox is planning to discuss his future with West Brom after making only six Barclays Premier League starts this season.

Cox is hoping to be part of the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 squad despite his lack of first-team action at the Hawthorns.

The striker's contract runs out this summer, although the club can take up a 12-month option should they desire.

'Apart from throughout January, when I played four or five games on the bounce, it has been horrible,' said the 24-year-old.

Heading off: Simon Cox is frustrated by a lack of first-team football with West Brom

Heading off: Simon Cox is frustrated by a lack of first-team football with West Brom

'You have just got to stick with it and now we have reached 40 points, hopefully I can get a bit more game time.

'We will sit down and discuss it. The club have the option to take up a further year of my contract at the end of this season.

'For me it is about waiting for the end of the season to come, waiting for the Euros and seeing if I am picked in the Ireland squad.

'If I am, I'll go out there and see what I can do and then see what the club's decision is. I'll see whether they want to keep me or whether I move on.'

Euro star: Cox hopes to be part of Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland European Championship squad this summer

Euro star: Cox hopes to be part of Giovanni Trapattoni's Republic of Ireland European Championship squad this summer

Cox is grateful for Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni for continuing to involve him despite his lack of domestic action.

'When the squad is selected for the Euros, I hope to be in it and, via the conversations I have had with Giovanni and Marco Tardelli (assistant manager) they seem happy with what is happening with me,' he added.

'Sometimes you can't complain when the team are winning games but in terms of Ireland I have to thank Giovanni because every time he has picked me in the squad, I have not been playing at Albion.

'It is hard for him to see what I can do on a weekly basis and I do have to count my blessings everytime he picks me for the squad.'