Tag Archives: optimism

Big Sam has big plans for Hammers, but new rules could mean it takes a while…

Big Sam has big plans for Hammers, but new rules could mean it takes a while…

By
Laurie Whitwell

PUBLISHED:

21:03 GMT, 5 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:03 GMT, 5 April 2013

Sam Allardyce has declared his desire to build the ‘best ever’ West Ham team – but warned supporters that Financial Fair Play rules mean it will be a long process.

Allardyce, in negotiations over the finer details of a new three-year contract, is already contemplating the calibre of player required when the club move into the 54,000-seat Olympic Stadium in 2016. But, he says, vast improvements will not come rapidly.

To the skies: Allardyce has big plans for West Ham, but holds fears at the same time

To the skies: Allardyce has big plans for West Ham, but holds fears at the same time

The West Ham boss, who was yesterday sporting four stitches above a bruised right eye after falling into a marble work surface at home, said: ‘There is a big motivation for everybody to get West Ham to be the biggest club it’s ever been.

'When you’ve decided to move into a fantastic venue the size of the Olympic Stadium, that demands you try and get the best you possibly can.’

But he added: ‘The days of huge money thrown at transfers look like they might be restricted. So the growth of West Ham might not be as quick as we would all like.

Grounds for optimism: The Hammers' move to the Olympic Stadium has brought new hope for the future

Grounds for optimism: The Hammers' move to the Olympic Stadium has brought new hope for the future

Grounds for optimism: The Hammers' move to the Olympic Stadium has brought new hope for the future

'Certainly me. We have to be very aware that we might not be able to be as free spending as perhaps we’d want.’

Premier League rules, voted in earlier this year, will limit the total amount of television money clubs can spend on players’ wages to 60million by 2016, as well as capping losses at 105million for three-year cycles.

Allardyce added: ‘What we’re telling the fans now is that it might be a problem, because we can’t spend it (the TV money).

'We’re not allowed to. In the end the fans will take a while to understand that. I certainly know the players and the agents will.’

Tenure: Allardyce has been in charge at West Ham since June 2011

Tenure: Allardyce has been in charge at West Ham since June 2011, and hopes for a healthy future at the club

Nacho Monreal – how did he fare on Arsenal debut?

How did Nacho Monreal fare on his Arsenal debut Sportsmail analyses his display

By
Sami Mokbel

PUBLISHED:

23:24 GMT, 3 February 2013

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UPDATED:

08:11 GMT, 4 February 2013

Nacho Monreal made a winning start to his Arsenal career as Lukas Podolski handed Arsene Wenger’s men a slender 1-0 win over Stoke.

So how did the 8.3million deadline day signing from Malaga, who is tipped to replace Kieran Gibbs as the club’s first-choice left back, cope in Saturday’s Premier League debut

Ball retention

Arsenal’s game is all about keeping the ball and Monreal will have no problem fitting into Arsene Wenger’s style. There was nothing extravagant about the Spaniard’s passing. He kept it simple, playing short passes inside to his centre backs or midfielders instead of attempting anything risky or penetrative.

His one-touch game is excellent and he looked comfortable in possession, but would you expect anything else from a Spain international

Team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain said: ‘He is very good on the ball, comfortable, technically brilliant and a very good defender.’

Comfortable: Nacho Monreal was happy to receive the ball to feet

Comfortable: Nacho Monreal was happy to receive the ball to feet

Going forward

The 26-year-old was sparing with his bursts forward, but when he did make a foray looked a real threat.

His pace over 10 to 20 yards had Stoke right back Ryan Shotton worried and his combination play with Jack Wilshere before putting in a cross that narrowly eluded Olivier Giroud will fill Arsenal fans with optimism.

Defending

Monreal will have more strenuous tests to come as Stoke struggled to carry a sustained attacking threat.

On the whole he was defensively sound. Competent in the air, particularly for a man under 6ft, and strong in the tackle, he knew when to clear or pick out a pass. Yet at times he allowed opponents too much space to cross.

Rearguard action: Nacho is little but a good addition to the backline

Rearguard action: Nacho is little but a good addition to the backline

Concentration

Intelligent enough to keep things simple on his debut. It was clear he was playing within himself, but there were a couple of lapses of concentration. The first came towards the end of the first half when, under no pressure, he let a routine pass slip under his foot and the ball rolled out. This was repeated in the last five minutes, with his side trying to protect their slender advantage, but this time the error occurred on the edge of his own box.

Physicality

Any fears Monreal would not be able to deal with the rough and tumble of the Premier League were dispelled during a bruising aerial duel with Jonathan Walters before half-time.

In going up for a header, the duo were involved in a nasty clash of heads. The Stoke forward needed treatment to a bloodied gash to his forehead.

Monreal remained on his feet, hardly flinching. ‘To see him win so many headers and hold his own was great to see,’ added Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Delighted: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is pleased Monreal has joined the squad

Delighted: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is pleased Monreal has joined the squad

England are Ashes favourites for good reason, admits Jason Gillespie

England deserve to be Ashes favourites, admits Aussie great Gillespie

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

10:30 GMT, 2 February 2013

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UPDATED:

11:45 GMT, 2 February 2013

Yorkshire coach and former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie believes England will deservedly start as favourites for their defence of the Ashes later this year.

England retained the famous urn with an emphatic 3-1 win in the five-match Test series on Australian soil in 2010/11, and have been tipped to dictate terms again when the famous rivalry resumes in July.

Gillespie, having been installed as Yorkshire's first-team coach in 2011, has been able to assess the hosts' preparations first hand, and believes English optimism is well-placed.

Jason Gillespie thinks England's Ashes victories give them the advantage

Odds on: Jason Gillespie thinks England's will be full of confidence

Gillespie took 65 wickets in 18 matches against England

Pedigree: Gillespie took 65 wickets in 18 matches against England

'They are incredibly confident over here but they deserve to start favourites, England, no doubt about it,' Gillespie told The Australian newspaper.

'I think potentially they could underestimate our bowling. I've been speaking about it quite regularly over here and saying, ''Don't underestimate the strength of Australia's pace bowling attack''.

'But England won't underestimate Australia. They're too clever for that and I know the England management has already been doing a lot of research.

'They've been planning and researching for a long time. I've got no doubt they'll be wary.'

Gillespie took 7/37 at Headingley on his first Ashes tour to England

Lethal: Gillespie took 7/37 at Headingley on his first Ashes tour

Gillespie, who claimed 259 wickets in 71 Tests for Australia between 1996 and 2006, expects England's well-established bowling attack to trouble a relatively inexperienced Australian batting line-up.

'England's bowling is very good at the moment,' he said.

'Coming up against the Australian batting order, they will rightly feel they're in the game. They feel they can put Australia under pressure and can have Michael Clarke coming in consistently very early, at two or three down for not very many.

James Anderson could prove to be the difference

Match-winner: James Anderson could prove to be the difference

'James Anderson is one of the best going around. He'll lead the attack, (Steven) Finn is a very good bowler, (Tim) Bresnan is a very good bowler, (Stuart) Broad has had a bit of an up-and-down time but he's also a very good bowler.

'Graeme Swann is one of the best spin bowlers in the world, if not the number one. Their batting is strong and they've got the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world (Matt Prior) so they're in a good place.'

WHO ARE THE LIKELY BOWLERS IN THE MIX

England: James Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar, Graeme Onions

Australia: Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Xavier Doherty, Jackson Bird, Steven Smith

Tattooed Leeds fan still sad even though his team beat Spurs

Afraid Spurs will nick a draw Tattooed Leeds fan is a picture of nerves in dying stages of FA Cup shock

By
Tom Sheen

PUBLISHED:

01:09 GMT, 28 January 2013

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UPDATED:

16:09 GMT, 28 January 2013

This Leeds fan looks as if he is used to a bit of needle but his pained expression shows his nerves in the final stages of the win over Tottenham at Elland Road.

The heavily tattooed supporter, who has a Leeds badge inked on the top right of his forehead, looked as if he expected Spurs to come back and grab a 2-2 draw.

Fortunately, this man did not have to face up to that as the hosts did manage to hold on and inked their name in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

A bit of needle: This tattooed Leeds fans watches the final stages of their win over Tottenham

A bit of needle: This tattooed Leeds fans watches the final stages of their win over Tottenham

DO YOU KNOW THIS FAN

We would like to get in touch with this Leeds fan before the next round against Manchester City. Is it you Do you know him Get in touch with us at: [email protected]

Maybe we'll be seeing this expression again as an away tie with the champions of England, Manchester City, awaits in the
next round.

But after knocking three Premier League sides out of cup competitions this season, he might be going to the Etihad full of optimism.

And if Leeds do win there, tat would be amazing.

Into the fifth round: Leeds will travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City

Into the fifth round: Leeds will travel to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City

Theo Walcott agrees deal to stay at Arsenal

Walcott finally agrees new deal at Emirates with forward set to stay at Arsenal until 2016

PUBLISHED:

12:19 GMT, 18 January 2013

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UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 18 January 2013

Theo Walcott appears to have ended the drawn out contract saga at Arsenal by agreeing a new deal that will keep him at the club until 2016.

After lengthy negotiations the England forward has finally agreed, in principle, a three-and-a-half year deal at the Emirates.

The 23-year-old is likely to join fellow Britons Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who all signed five-year extensions last month.

Finally: Theo Walcott has agreed a new deal with Arsenal after lengthy negotiations

Finally: Theo Walcott has agreed a new deal with Arsenal after lengthy negotiations

On alert: Arsene Wenger was concerned that another of his prized assets would leave the club

On alert: Arsene Wenger was concerned that another of his prized assets would leave the club

Walcott was expected to agree a deal
sooner, but he baulked at a deal worth 75,000 per week in
August as he held out for a contract closer to 100,000.

Arsene Wenger has seen some of his brightest
talents leave the Emirates in the past two summers.

Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri,
Alex Song and the Premier League's leading goalscorer this season Robin van Persie have
all departed and the Frenchman was desperate to keep Walcott
on board.

Wenger had
said that he was '99 per cent' certain that Walcott would agree terms
before the weekend, and it appears his prediction has come to fruition.

He told The Sun: 'I hope it will be signed before the weekend. There is a possibility. My optimism is at 99 per cent now.'

He added that he was concerned
Walcott would follow the other big names out of the club but it appears
he is set to stay in north London.

Wenger said: 'Yes I was scared at
some stage, that he could leave because it is like that with the
experience I have in negotiations.

'When things last too long, it is never a good sign. It took us some time to get where we want to get. It is still not finalised, but hopefully it will be done by this weekend.'

Walcott joined the Gunners in 2006, when Wenger signed the 16-year-old Southampton academy graduate.

The Englishman is Arsenal's top scorer this campaign with 14 goals in all competitions.

Problem solved: Arsene Wenger managed to convince Walcott to stay at the club

Problem solved: Arsene Wenger managed to convince Walcott to stay at the club

Crisis averted: Samir Nasri moved to Manchester City

Crisis averted: Cesc Fabregas joined Barcelona in 2011

Crisis averted: Samir Nasri (left) moved to Manchester City and Cesc Fabregas (right) left for Barcelona in 2011

Big loss: Robin van Persie left Arsenal last summer for Manchester United

Big loss: Robin van Persie left Arsenal last summer for Manchester United

Manu Tuilagi convinced England can beat New Zealand

It's now or never! Tuilagi convinced England can get a result against the All Blacks

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UPDATED:

16:15 GMT, 29 November 2012

Reasons to be cheerful: Tuilagi

Reasons to be cheerful: Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi hopes that a gruelling season will take its toll on New Zealand when they face England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The All Blacks play the last game of a four-match tour of the northern hemisphere which has come straight off the back of a six-match Rugby Championship series and the intense Super Rugby competition that all of their squad were involved in during the summer.

The All Blacks have Andrew Hore missing through suspension and Dan Carter has had to pass a late fitness test on a troublesome calf – add to that a sickness bug that has swept through Steve Hansen's squad and England have plenty of reasons for optimism despite having lost their last two fixtures against South Africa and New Zealand.

Asked if now was the best time to be play New Zealand, Red Rose centre Tuilagi said: 'I hope so. They're coming to the end of their tour and will be tired.'

Saturday's game is England's last fixture before next year's Six Nations, and Tuilagi realises the need to take momentum into the tournament. 'It is very important to finish on a high,' added the 21-year-old.

'To get a win against New Zealand, the
best team in the world, that would be a dream ending for us and it would
be a great way to get the momentum going again heading into the Six
Nations.'

Close call: England lost to South Africa by just one point

Close call: England lost to South Africa by just one point

Tuilagi's optimism is born from an improved performance by Stuart Lancaster's side in last week's agonising 15-16 loss to the Springboks.

Although profligacy remains an issue, England dominated the game for the long periods against the No 2 ranked side in the world and Tuilagi revealed that the camp are feeling much more positive than they did after the dismal defeat to Australia the previous week.

'It feels a little bit better than last week, but we're frustrated still,' he added. 'We went toe to toe with the second best team in the world, but we don't want to be a team that is satisfied by losing by one point, we want to get that win and we couldn't ask for a better team to get it against than New Zealand.

'The last two games have been really frustrating, we've played really well but just haven't finished the opportunities we have created. But we have been working really hard on that in training and now we have a great challenge in front of us to try and put that right.

Starting role: Tuilagi lines up in the centres alongside Brad Barritt

Starting role: Tuilagi lines up in the centres alongside Brad Barritt

'We've looked at the video (of the South Africa game) and we believe we played very well. We fronted up, we were disciplined, we were strong at the breakdown and at the scrum. We just need to keep on doing those things well and improve against the All Blacks.

'All the boys are looking forward to it. We have got a chance to show that we can beat the best side in the world.'

Tuilagi shot to stardom after making a blistering start to his England career last year in the build up to and during the World Cup. He has become one of the first names on the team-sheet for England but Saturday will be the first time he has faced the world's best side. It is a challenge he is looking forward to.

'I'm very excited,' Tuilagi enthused. 'It will be the first time I have played against the All Blacks and I just can't wait to play.'

And what about facing the formidable haka 'We will just stand up there and smile,' Tuilagi said. 'It's a great tradition for rugby and for New Zealand but all you can do is respect it and accept the challenge they're putting in front of you.'

Grin and bear it: Tuilagi says he will smile through the haka

Grin and bear it: Tuilagi says he will smile through the haka

The challenge directly in front of Tuilagi will be the most revered centre pairing in world rugby – Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Commentators have expressed concerns over the ability of England's midfield partnership of Tuilagi and Brad Barritt to stand up to the world's best, but Tuilagi is looking forward to the challenge and insists he and Barritt are up to the task.

'Playing New Zealand is exciting whoever is wearing that All Black shirt, but to come up against the likes of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith would be the ultimate challenge as a centre,' Tuilagi added.

'For me personally, I love playing with Brad. He is a fantastic player and I love playing outside him. I don't have to worry about him because I know he is always going to be there for me, so being there at 13 outside him is what you want.'

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Patrick Collins: Football must raise its sights above the gutter

Football must raise its sights above the gutter

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UPDATED:

21:16 GMT, 22 September 2012

When the fans come bustling down Anfield Road on Sunday lunchtime, they will carry a conventional cargo of emotions.

Liverpool against Manchester United
always provokes acute anticipation, extravagant optimism and a
lip-biting dread of defeat. But this contest holds a sharper, more
worrying significance.

It asks questions which invite disturbing answers.

Remember them: Tributes left at the Hillsborough Memorial outside the football ground at Anfield

Remember them: Tributes left at the Hillsborough Memorial outside the football ground at Anfield

And the most important questions concern the fans themselves.

Over the past week, the various
parties have behaved impeccably. The players at large, and the captains
in particular, have demonstrated intelligent responsibility.

The two managers, Brendan Rodgers and Sir Alex Ferguson, have preached sensitive restraint.

The executives of both clubs have
worked to lower the temperature. In short, all that could be done has
been done. Now they are at the mercy of their followers.

More from Patrick Collins…

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15/09/12

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08/09/12

Patrick Collins: A silver smile shows Simmonds will always be a true champion
08/09/12

Patrick Collins: Big-spending elite must heed Wenger's demand for sanity
01/09/12

Patrick Collins: Strauss is in no mood to toast the Absent Friend
18/08/12

Patrick Collins: Venomous and vacuous footballers are their own worst enemies
18/08/12

Trust the politicians to try to grab a share of Olympic glory
11/08/12

Patrick Collins: Trust the politicians to try to grab a share of Olympic glory
11/08/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

For passions have been running high on Merseyside since the publication of the independent Hillsborough report.

Disgraceful revelations have made an entire community newly aware of how viciously their dead were defamed.

For their part, United's followers
retain the folk memory of Munich '58, of the icy runway and the February
dusk and of how glorious promise was erased in a catastrophic
convulsion.

So the questions come crowding in.

What if a handful of fools from either camp should seek to sabotage today's encounter

What if their chants, songs and poisonous jeers should reduce the contest to a squalid exchange of tribal invective

Suddenly, what was once dismissed as discourtesy would become a matter of genuine depravity.

And, given the scrutiny this match will receive, how could the game at large show its face in the wake of such shame

Of course, this is not a new dilemma. It is depressingly simplistic to suggest that English football is at the crossroads, for the reality is that the game lives at those crossroads, eternally evading the onrushing traffic.

Its crises arrive like municipal buses; erratically, unpredictably. But it can call upon deep resources of genuine affection, of gratitude for decades of delight and enchantment.

Yet from time to time, it needs to take two or three steps back and consider how it appears to the millions who are not besotted by its charms.

Sunday is such an occasion.

On Sunday, the national sport is praying that one of its showpiece events will not be defaced by the spectacle of a group of fans celebrating the death of 96 innocent people, or another group jeering at the memory of a devastating air disaster.

Call for clam: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Call for clam: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

It is as banal and as wicked as that.

And those uncommitted millions can neither accept nor understand it.

In fairness to football, it is trying to offset the witless malice of its tribal fringe.

Those captains I mentioned, Steven Gerrard, of Liverpool and Nemanja Vidic, of United, have spoken out strongly for sanity and today they will release 96 balloons in a pleasing tribute to the dead of Hillsborough.

Others would go further.

Robbie Fowler, the former Liverpool striker, suggests that a Liverpool and a United player should each lay a floral tribute at the opposing end of the ground.

He nominates Luis Suarez, at the United end, and Patrice Evra, in front of the Kop.

He may be risibly deluded but I'm sure he means well.

The fact is that if Suarez and Evra can somehow be persuaded to shake hands before the match, then the afternoon will be off to a heartening start.

In the event, United's respect will be conveyed by Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton, and there could be no more appropriate choices.

But the fear remains that the unspeakable will find its voice, that a few outbursts of ugliness will reinforce a host of hostile perceptions.

With the exhilaration of the Olympic summer still fresh in the mind of the nation, the contrast with football would be more damning than ever.

So Sunday's game has acquired an importance which far exceeds its result.

At a time when old certainties are wavering and doubts loom large, football must hope that its coarsest followers somehow discover a measure of decent respect.

It must also pray that its clubs will enforce those standards by naming and banning the culprits.

A few months ago, Liverpool could not have been entrusted with such a task.

We don't need this: Luis Suarez refused to shake hands with Patrice Evra in February

We don't need this: Luis Suarez refused to shake hands with Patrice Evra in February

Their behaviour during the Suarez race hearing – the same Suarez, by the way, whom Fowler would entrust with appeasing flowers – smacked of arrogant intransigence.

But the direction at Anfield has changed, and saner, more enlightened attitudes prevail. No longer can spurious loyalty expect to stifle vigorous reform.

So we cross our fingers and hope against hope; for a fine match, certainly, but much more for a sane, well-ordered occasion of the kind which will do justice to two of our greatest clubs.

We do not demand anything exceptional, we simply ask that football should lift its sights above the gutter and observe the kind of standards which in the outside world are mundane and unexceptional.

The immediate onus lies with those lunchtime fans on Anfield Road. We must pray that they are equal to the challenge.

Keen for change: Blackburn fans protest against their manager Steve Kean

Keen for change: Blackburn fans protest against their manager Steve Kean

It's time for a change of tune at Blackburn

At Newcastle they sing Blaydon Races, at West Ham it's Bubbles and at Anfield, well, need I tell you

But at Blackburn, for the past 21 months, they favour something more pointed.

'Kean Out!' they bawl, while the bald guy in the dugout frowns at the pitch and pretends not to hear. It is a saga from which nobody emerges with much credit.

The fans have occasionally appeared shrill and bullying, the manager has seemed out of his depth and, as for the owners, there are no words.

Venky's stewardship of Rovers has been an extended comedy of errors.

One of the principal mistakes was the appointment as 'global adviser' of one Shebby Singh, described as a 'onetime Malaysian defender and television pundit'.

The game's up: Steve Kean doesn't need the aggro

The game's up: Steve Kean doesn't need the aggro

Singh has consistently undermined the manager and is thought to be responsible for the ludicrous target of 16 points from the first seven games.

Kean fell two points short but still led the Championship pack at that point and must now await his fate.

No doubt Venky's would like him to jump, while he, presumably, has expectations of compensation.

No matter, it is time to end the humiliation, time for Steve Kean to heed the singers and high time that Blackburn found another song.

Moyes makes a difference

Football managers are a fascinating bunch; many are gifted, a few are chancers and one or two defy description.

But the best of them are exceptional individuals, and David Moyes is among that distinguished group.

Impressive: David Moyes

Impressive: David Moyes

His achievements at Everton are well known, producing a team who are both successful and attractive on a budget which richer clubs would scorn.

But more important than results is what the man represents. He seems to stand for important standards.

Of all the words inspired by the Hillsborough report this past week, Moyes's statement was perhaps the most impressive.

He reached across the city of Liverpool and spoke from the heart, as 'a football manager, a football supporter and a father'.

They were the moving words of a decent man.

PS

Kevin Pietersen insulted his captain, abandoned international one-day cricket and threw a series of charmless strops.

Then, when England dropped him, he promptly recanted. He had been misunderstood.

England were dear to his heart.

Which is why, as he goes about his lavishly-rewarded television punditry in Colombo, he wears a pair of Union Flag cufflinks.

Honestly, I am not making this up.

It is Pietersen being fiendishly subtle. I don't know who's advising him but I do hope they keep those Big Ideas coming.

Andrew Johnson ruled out for the majority of the season through injury

Blow for QPR as striker Johnson is set to miss rest of the season with knee injury

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UPDATED:

10:58 GMT, 17 September 2012

QPR striker Andrew Johnson looks set to miss the majority of the season after suffering a serious knee injury during Saturday's goalless draw against Chelsea.

The 31-year-old was forced off in the first half of the Barclays Premier League stalemate at Loftus Road, with subsequent scans revealing the extent of the problem.

'Andy Johnson suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Chelsea and is likely to be sidelined for the majority of the season,' QPR posted on their official Twitter.

Injury blow: Andy Johnson leaves the field after picking up an injury against Chelsea

Injury blow: Andy Johnson leaves the field after picking up an injury against Chelsea

Johnson, who has won eight caps for England, joined Rangers on a two-year contract in the summer after his Fulham deal expired.

The severity of the injury – sustained on Johnson's third appearance for the club – will come as a blow to manager Mark Hughes, who had expressed optimism the former Birmingham, Crystal Palace and Everton man would not be out for too long.

'AJ felt something in his knee. We hope he's going to be okay, but it's a little bit of worry,' Hughes said after the game.

Pain game: Johnson lies on the ground after picking up his injury

Pain game: Johnson lies on the ground after picking up his injury

'You need players like AJ in the squad because they give so much. We'll send him for a scan over the next few days and hopefully he'll be okay.'

Rangers, who have picked up only two points from four games so far this season, will continue their search for a first win of the campaign at Tottenham on Sunday.

Roy Hodgson hails Tom Cleverley

Hodgson singles out Cleverley as England boss delights in young team's performance

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 15 August 2012

England manager Roy Hodgson relished the opportunity to give his fringe players a chance in their 2-1 win over Italy in Bern.

Goals from Phil Jagielka and Jermain Defoe sealed an impressive win for an inexperienced England team and gave Hodgson plenty of options ahead of the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Hodgson said: 'It gave us a chance to see so many new players – it might have been different if we'd had to use the same players we'd used through the Euros.

Full package: Tom Cleverley excelled for England in the heart of midfield

Full package: Tom Cleverley excelled for England in the heart of midfield

Full package: Tom Cleverley excelled for England in the heart of midfield

'It was great to give the senior players a rest and blood so many new players, or players who didn't get the chance before, and I thought they answered the challenge in the best possible way.'

Hodgson signalled out debutant Tom Cleverley for special praise, saying of the Manchester United youngster: 'We know he's a good player and he's a very, very important player for Man United.

'Last year they were very unlucky to lose him so early and we've been pleased to see him back in form so early, and he must be pleased to add to that with a good performance for the England first team.'

Delight: Roy Hodgson was impressed with the performance of his young team

Delight: Roy Hodgson was impressed with the performance of his young team

Hodgson even found cause for optimism since the Euro 2012 semi-final disappointment, adding on ITV: 'There was not a lot different from what we were trying to do in the Euros, but maybe tonight we showed a little bit more composure on the ball and managed to pass it a bit better.'

Match-winner Jermain Defoe admitted his second half strike was one of the best of his England career but added: 'Even people who have had more England caps than me would say that each time they pull on an England shirt they want to prove something to the manager.'

And debutant Cleverley added: 'It was a proud moment for me and a big moment in any footballer's life. I managed to get forward at times and hopefully I can impress the manager and get called up again.'

London 2012 Olympics: Tunisia 34 Great Britain 17 – hosts out of handball

Tunisia 34 Great Britain 17: Hosts mauled as handball team bows out

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UPDATED:

10:49 GMT, 4 August 2012

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MEDALS TABLE

Great Britain's men endured another torrid outing in the Copper Box as Tunisia handed out a beating in their Group A clash that sent the host nation crashing out.

Although Dragan Djukic's side have played their part in thrusting handball upon an unsuspecting British public, this loss follows hot on the heels of thrashings at the hands of reigning Olympic champions France, three-time silver medallists Sweden and Pan-American champions Argentina.

Given their infancy as a handballing nation, it is no surprise that Team GB have had such a hard time of it against teams who were winning medals long before they were even formed.

Down and out: GB handball team are out of the Olympics

Down and out: GB handball team are out of the Olympics

And the gulf in class was clear to seen this morning, though the way GB fought until the end deserves some credit and a flourish in the final throes of the first half gives optimism for the future.

Five goals from Sebastian Edgar and the continued form of goalkeeper Jesper Parker were other bright spots for the hosts.

After publicly targeting a win against Argentina in their last outing, Djukic was keen to rein his side's expectations back in before the match and the reason was evident from early on as Tunisia took a 4-1 lead after eight minutes.

That need not have been the case, though, as Chris McDermott, who received two two-minute suspensions in the first six minutes, opened the scoring and a host of early Team GB efforts were missed when they should have been scored.

Indeed, they only converted two of their first nine efforts on goal and that allowed Tunisia to take advantage with three back-to-back strikes, earning a 7-2 lead just before the midway point of the first half.

John Pearce ended that run with a nice finish from the wing, but three more goals from the Africans sent them 10-3 up and even at that early stage, that cushion was always going to be unassailable.

Thanks for the memories: The players acknowledge the fans at the Copperbox

Thanks for the memories: The players acknowledge the fans at the Copperbox

While a long morning was looking on the cards, goals from Sebastian Prieto and Gawain Vincent gave the home crowd something to cheer about and formed part of a four-minute spell that saw Team GB score four out of the next five goals, to bring their deficit down to 14-8 at the break.

However, that energy could not be renewed after the interval, and after Prieto missed a penalty, Tunisia scored five of the next seven goals to snuff out any hopes of a comeback.

In fact, a golden spell for the Africans put an unpleasant look on the scoreboard as a host of fast breaks and five unanswered goals gave them a 13-goal cushion, undoing all the good work from Team GB at the end of the first period.

One thing that cannot be levelled at Djukic's side is a lack of desire or fight, though, and despite Tunisia continuing to enjoy free reign in attack, Steven Larsson threw in a seven-metre effort which received a cheer as loud as the first from the unwavering home support.

Other goals from Edgar and Martin Hare went in as Team GB battled bravely, but they just could not compete with a strong Tunisia, who put themselves in with the chance of a quarter-final spot, thanks largely to 10 goals from Aymen Toumi.

Team GB complete their Group A campaign against reigning silver medallists Iceland on Monday, while they can take pride in the way they have helped spread the handball word over the last week.