Tag Archives: process

Micah Richards will be given special summer training programme to minimise injury risk

EXCLUSIVE: Man City star Richards will be forced to follow special summer training programme after injury-hit season

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And City's medical team are devising a specially-designed training plan, aimed primarily at strengthening his injured knee, for Richards to follow during the close season to ensure his body is ready for the rigours of pre-season given he'll have spent virtually an entire season on the sidelines.

Blow: Richards was stretchered off during the game against Swansea

Blow: Richards was stretchered off during the game against Swansea

Richards had hoped to be back playing at the beginning of this month, but his return was delayed after complaining of tightness in his injured knee during the latter stages of his rehabilitation process.

News of Richards' pending return will be a major boost to City manager Roberto Mancini ahead of his side's run-in.

No Milan move for Balotelli or Beckham as Rossoneri eye Kaka return

No Milan move for Balotelli or Beckham as Rossoneri eye Kaka return

By
Peter Scott

PUBLISHED:

18:42 GMT, 19 January 2013

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UPDATED:

18:42 GMT, 19 January 2013

AC Milan coach Massmiliano Allegri has insisted his club are not interested in signing Manchester City
striker Mario Balotelli or free agent David Beckham.

The Rossoneri have been heavily linked with Manchester City striker Balotelli, who came to prominence at Milan rivals Inter.

His fractious relationship with Blues boss Roberto Mancini has led to speculation that he will return to Italy.

Fractious: Mario Balotelli (right) has not always enjoyed a good relationship with Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini

Fractious: Mario Balotelli (right) has not always enjoyed a good relationship with Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini

Beckham meanwhile, is without a club after leaving LA Galaxy, and enjoyed a successful loan spell with Milan in 2009.

But Allegri insisted there will be no move for either player.

'[We are] only negotiating for Kaka, so there will be no Mario Balotelli or David Beckham,' he said.

'There are talks in progress for Kaka, an important negotiation process if this great return should occur. I agree with the club and Adriano Galliani on everything, so there has never been my position opposed to that of the club. There is an exchange of ideas, certainly, but it's not true that I don't want Kaka.

Heady days: David Beckham and Kaka (right) when both played for AC Milan

Heady days: David Beckham and Kaka (right) when both played for AC Milan

'Beckham I know Beckham, he is a great guy and a player of real class. However, you can't wipe out his birth certificate and Milan have chosen to focus on youth hopefully with support from an important champion like Kaka.

'Balotelli We are only negotiating for Kaka. In attack we have Giampaolo Pazzini, Bojan Krkic and M'Baye Niang, while we also have experienced players who bring a sense of security.'

Theo Walcott should copy Thierry Henry – Martin Keown

Walcott should learn from the master… when Henry was in the zone there was no stopping him

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UPDATED:

09:18 GMT, 31 December 2012

When Thierry Henry was in the zone, he was driven, there was a real fierce determination about him.

You could see it in his eyes. And I think that is coming into Theo Walcott's make-up now.

At the moment, the reason for this is that he wants to prove he deserves to stay at the club. But when that is taken care of, he needs to carry on producing.

In the zone: Thierry Henry gave his team-mates hope with his drive and determination

In the zone: Thierry Henry gave his team-mates hope with his drive and determination

Walcott needs to want it for wanting's sake. He needs to stay in this same thought process because it is bringing the best out of him at the moment.

When Walcott went home on Saturday night, he must have felt like a proud man – on top of the world with a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.

He needs to want to produce that same feeling next time he steps out on the pitch.

You do not stop until you feel that joy of winning, and that comes from scoring the goals that win matches.

Henry gave us tremendous hope. Without those players, you do not finish off the hard work because you don't score goals.

This transition from winger to centre forward has been seven years in the making and the club have probably been waiting for this to happen.

And right now, it's like Walcott is saying: 'Take a look at me at centre forward. This is where I really want to play.'

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

There is much more purpose and precision, and there seems to be a shift in his mentality, underlined by the way he took his third goal.

Walcott gets knocked to the ground but bounces back up again looking for a goal. There's that hunger to score – the same hunger Henry had.

Furthermore, his first goal had all the precision of Henry. And for me, that is the difference; he is more clinical in front of goal.

There was not the consistency to his finishing three or four years ago, but that consistency is there now. And I think that has come with a change of mindset.

Yes, he has maybe proved a point. But what he has to focus on is scoring goals and winning games for Arsenal. It's not about just performing well and looking good.

I think maybe, in the past, there has been that element to his game. But if you focus on what matters, winning football matches, it is easier as a professional footballer to go out there and do well.

Back in town: Henry is currently back training with his former club

Back in town: Henry is currently back training with his former club

The Walcott should copy Thierry Henry – Martin Keown

Walcott should learn from the master… when Henry was in the zone there was no stopping him

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UPDATED:

23:35 GMT, 30 December 2012

When Thierry Henry was in the zone, he was driven, there was a real fierce determination about him.

You could see it in his eyes. And I think that is coming into Theo Walcott's make-up now.

At the moment, the reason for this is that he wants to prove he deserves to stay at the club. But when that is taken care of, he needs to carry on producing.

In the zone: Thierry Henry gave his team-mates hope with his drive and determination

In the zone: Thierry Henry gave his team-mates hope with his drive and determination

Walcott needs to want it for wanting's sake. He needs to stay in this same thought process because it is bringing the best out of him at the moment.

When Walcott went home on Saturday night, he must have felt like a proud man – on top of the world with a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.

He needs to want to produce that same feeling next time he steps out on the pitch.

You do not stop until you feel that joy of winning, and that comes from scoring the goals that win matches.

Henry gave us tremendous hope. Without those players, you do not finish off the hard work because you don't score goals.

This transition from winger to centre forward has been seven years in the making and the club have probably been waiting for this to happen.

And right now, it's like Walcott is saying: 'Take a look at me at centre forward. This is where I really want to play.'

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Main man: Walcott was in exceptional form against Newcastle

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

Expertly done: Theo Walcott showed his ability to play in the middle for Arsenal

There is much more purpose and precision, and there seems to be a shift in his mentality, underlined by the way he took his third goal.

Walcott gets knocked to the ground but bounces back up again looking for a goal. There's that hunger to score – the same hunger Henry had.

Furthermore, his first goal had all the precision of Henry. And for me, that is the difference; he is more clinical in front of goal.

There was not the consistency to his finishing three or four years ago, but that consistency is there now. And I think that has come with a change of mindset.

Yes, he has maybe proved a point. But what he has to focus on is scoring goals and winning games for Arsenal. It's not about just performing well and looking good.

I think maybe, in the past, there has been that element to his game. But if you focus on what matters, winning football matches, it is easier as a professional footballer to go out there and do well.

Back in town: Henry is currently back training with his former club

Back in town: Henry is currently back training with his former club

As England"s injuries mount before Autumn Tests, Stuart Lancaster needs stability: Chris Foy

Six injured and counting, Lancaster needs stability

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 1 November 2012

It was all going so well. Too well, as
it turns out. This time last week, England head coach Stuart
Lancaster could look ahead to the QBE Internationals with hope, founded
on the fact that most of his leading players were available.

Not any longer. During a damaging
weekend, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes succumbed to knee injuries,
Jonathan Joseph experienced discomfort in his right ankle and Joe
Marler was left with a ‘tight’ hamstring.

To make matters worse, Chris Ashton picked up a citing and has been banned from the autumn opener against Fiji.

Long faces: Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley sit out training this week

Long faces: Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley sit out training this week

Suddenly, the selection process has
become fraught with difficulty. Lancaster and his assistants surely
would have picked Hartley, Ashton and Lawes in their starting XV and
while Marler should recover in time, England are already without Ben
Foden, Tom Croft and Alex Corbisiero.

While injuries are inevitable, losing
six or seven likely starters is brutal. Lancaster will announce his
line-up to face Fiji next Thursday, so with the cards left at his
disposal, here’s how it might look . . .

Alex Goode at full back, with Ugo
Monye and Charlie Sharples out wide. In midfield, expect Brad Barritt
and Manu Tuilagi to join forces, with Toby Flood at 10 and Danny Care a
fraction ahead of Ben Youngs for the scrum-half place.

Getting the nod: Danny Care is expected to be named as England's scrum-half

Getting the nod: Danny Care is expected to be named as England's scrum-half

More from Chris Foy…

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04/10/12

Chris Foy: This legacy could make kids losers
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Chris Foy: Where there's a Bill there's a way to sort out TV row
20/09/12

Chris Foy: Fans don't seem part of this Vision for the future
13/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Up front, props Marler and Dan Cole
are set to pack down either side of a debutant hooker, Tom Youngs, while
Geoff Parling and Tom Palmer should continue as the lock combination.

As ever, back row is a competitive
area but if Tom Wood is considered fully fit, he and captain Chris
Robshaw are likely to be the flankers, with Thomas Waldrom in front of
Ben Morgan in the tussle for the No 8 shirt, although that could change.

Remarkably, Lancaster has only once
been able to name an unchanged team. Just four players have been
ever-present in his England sides this year and three of them — Hartley,
Ashton and Foden — won’t be on duty against Fiji. Dan Cole is the last
of the quartet standing.

Every time there has been an injury, Lancaster has referred to it as an ‘opportunity’, a chance to bring in new faces and explore fresh combinations.

But it has reached the stage where stability is required. England need to be settled and cohesive if they are to have any chance of conquering the southern-hemisphere elite.

Brits of all right

A wrong righted: Schalk Brits (centre) in action

A wrong righted: Schalk Brits (centre) in action

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has taken a first step towards addressing a major injustice by selecting Saracens hooker Schalk Brits for the Springboks’ European tour. This column hopes that the 31-year-old finally has an opportunity to add to a paltry tally of three Test caps which does nothing to reflect his staggering ability. Brits has been the outstanding player in English rugby for the last three years.

He was the RPA Player of the Year in 2010 and a year later, when Saracens beat Leicester in the Aviva Premiership final to claim their maiden title, his performance was surely one of the greatest ever produced at Twickenham. He continues to excel for his club on a weekly basis and it is high time South Africa see just what they’ve been missing.

Selling tradition can come at a price

Money matters #1: So, the Scottish Rugby Union plan to sell the naming rights to Murrayfield. While the Irish set a precedent, their deal was linked to the rebuilding of the stadium still widely known as Lansdowne Road.

A warning to the SRU here: while this is a way to attract major investment, they must choose their ‘partner’ wisely. If a new name is too long-winded, or the company is unpopular, it won’t be adopted.

This plan represents the stripping away of another layer of tradition, but then tradition doesn’t pay the bills, as New Zealand realised before entering into a landmark shirt-sponsorship deal.

This week, as a sign of how the corporate takeover of the game can go too far, Wallaby fly-half Quade Cooper was fined for various public utterances which irked his employers, with one charge relating to his criticism of an ARU-licensed computer game. That is sinister. As for the stampede to brand everything in sight, how long until players are contractually obliged to sport temporary facial tattoos publicising sponsors’ names and logos

Sounds far-fetched, but give it time…

Costly: Quade Cooper (left) was fined 6,450 for criticising Rugby Challenge on Twitter

Costly: Quade Cooper (left) was fined 6,450 for criticising Rugby Challenge on Twitter

Money matters #2: It’s a good job that the RFU are set for a record autumn windfall of 17.5million from ticket-sales revenue, given how much it costs to hire the All Blacks these days.

As England’s game against New Zealand falls outside the official IRB Test ‘window’, the NZRU are free to negotiate an unprecedented deal for their national team’s appearance at Twickenham — 1.5m.

That represents a rise of almost 50 per cent on the going rate for such an occasion, while Australia are also thought to be into seven-figure territory for their appearance in Cardiff on the same day.

With fees of this nature, don’t be surprised if these tours encroach ever further into the club calendar.

The last word

New role: Chief executive Steve Diamond will take charge of Sale against London Irish

New role: Chief executive Steve Diamond will take charge of Sale against London Irish

It’s been an eventful week at Sale, to put it mildly. There is still confusion, so let’s clarify the situation. First, there were reports on Monday that director of rugby Bryan Redpath had been sacked. The club denied this, only to confirm the next day that he had been offered a lesser role. It had been assumed that ex-All Blacks coach John Mitchell would take charge of the Premiership’s bottom-placed team, but instead chief executive Steve Diamond will do so. Redpath has accepted the new title of ‘head coach’, but in practice he will be responsible for the backs.

Mitchell will act as a consultant, for six months initially, but only after tying up loose ends in South Africa, which may not be a formality. Diamond is not calling himself ‘director of rugby’, but he is undoubtedly the boss again, in terms of the rugby operation.

The players and whole club need firm, positive leadership and it is up to him to provide it, or the consequences will be dire.

Michael Schumacher warns Lewis Hamilton about Mercedes car

Over to Lew! Schumacher bows out with warning to Hamilton over car

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UPDATED:

00:11 GMT, 5 October 2012

Handing the baton on to Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher used the second retirement speech of his career to highlight the formidable task that awaits his replacement at Mercedes.

That Schumacher decided to call it a day is no surprise. Ever since Mercedes received positive vibes from Hamilton that a move from McLaren was possible, the German team had been working on a dignified exit plan.

Scroll down for video

Putting the brakes on: Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the season

Putting the brakes on: Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the season

Putting the brakes on: Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the season

Putting the brakes on: Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the season

The agreed line was that Schumacher
cannot offer the long-term commitment that Hamilton can, which was
hardly a revelation since the seven-time world champion will be 44 by
the time next season comes around.

More plausible was that, without a
win and just one podium to his name during his second coming, Schumacher
had simply lost his mojo and Hamilton’s arrival had only served to
speed up the decision-making process.

‘The special moment is that the team
have found an option with Lewis that helped me find the decision,
because there was an option for me to retire at an earlier stage,’ said
Schumacher, coming as close as could be expected to saying he had been
pushed.

Glamour: The seven-time world champion will go down in F1 history

Glamour: The seven-time world champion will go down in F1 history

Tainted Schumacher, who crashed spectacularly in Singapore, has failed to match the achievements in his second spell of those in his first all-conquering time at the wheel

Tainted Schumacher, who crashed spectacularly in Singapore, has failed to match the achievements in his second spell of those in his first all-conquering time at the wheel

Admitting he had failed to live up to
his standards, Schumacher conceded: 'I said at the end of 2009 that I
want to be measured by my success, and this is why I had a lot of
criticism in the past three years which partly was justified.

'It is without doubt that we did not achieve our goal to develop a world championship-fighting car within those years.’

That challenge, from next season,
rests in Hamilton’s hands. But the 27-year-old admitted he will be
largely behind McLaren next year.

One of the men Hamilton will be chasing will be his replacement Sergio Perez. ‘I think he will surprise us all,’ he said.

Beware! Schumacher has fired a warning to his replacment Hamilton

Beware! Schumacher has fired a warning to his replacment Hamilton

VIDEO: Michael Schumacher retires…again…

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MICHAEL SCHUMACHER FACTFILE
Smooth: Michael Schumacher

Smooth: Michael Schumacher

1969: Born on January 3 in Huerth-Hermuelheim, Germany.

1973: Makes his racing debut in a karting event.

1987: Wins German and European kart championships.

1988: Finishes fourth in German Formula Ford championship and is second in the European series in his first year of car racing.

1990: Wins first major single-seater title, clinching the German Formula Three crown. Steps up to sportscars, driving for Mercedes.

1991: Makes Formula One debut for Jordan in Belgium, qualifying seventh before retiring. Poached by Benetton for the rest of the season.

1992: Takes first grand prix win in Belgium on his way to third in the championship.

1994: Wins title, with eight wins to his name, after controversial last-race clash with Damon Hill in Australia.

1995: Retains world crown, taking nine victories.

1996: Moves to struggling Ferrari and manages three wins on his way to third in the championship.

1997: Wins five races but is stripped of second in the championship for attempting to take out title rival Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez.

1999: Breaks his leg at Silverstone when easily leading the championship.

2000: Finally wins Ferrari's first drivers' title since 1979, amassing nine wins on the way.

Golden era: Schumacher enjoyed some ding-dong battles with British driver Damon Hill

2001: Another nine wins and another title, setting a new record for all-time victories.

2002: Wins championship in record time, setting a new mark of 11 victories.

2003: Wins title by a point after six victories, breaking Juan Manuel Fangio's record of five championships.

2004: Breaks his own record for wins in a season, 13, to take title number seven.

2006
September 10 – Announces his retirement at end of 2006 season after winning Italian Grand Prix.

2009
July 29 – Announces plans to make a shock return to F1 with Ferrari, deputising for Felipe Massa until the Brazilian recovers from injuries suffered in an accident in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Just champion: The German bought the glory days back to Ferrari

August 11 – Forced to abort comeback due to a neck injury sustained in a motorbike accident in February.

December 23 – Signs a three-year contract to drive for Mercedes GP, ending three years in retirement.

2010: Makes his return to F1 in Bahrain and finishes the season in ninth, with a highest finish of fourth.

2011: Betters his previous season with an eighth-placed finish and 96 points, with a fourth in Canada his best result.

2012: Returns to the podium for the first time since his retirement, finishing third in the European grand prix.

October 4: Announces he will be retiring from the sport at the end of the season.

The Saturday debate: Is John Terry"s punishment of a four-game ban and 220,000 fine right?

The Saturday debate: Is John Terry's punishment of a four-game ban and 220,000 fine right

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UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 28 September 2012

After Chelsea captain John Terry was found guilty by the FA of making racist comments to QPR's Anton Ferdinand he was banned for four games and fined 220,000, Sportsmail asks its panel of experts if it was the correct punishment.

MARK BRIGHT (Former Sheffield Wednesday striker)

We can all say John Terry has previous but in this particular case was there enough evidence I don’t think there was. Regardless what went on in the past, if someone’s been found not guilty in court, I don’t think there’s enough evidence.

CYRILLE REGIS ( Former West Brom striker)

A panel of knowledgeable people have gone through the due process and we have to trust they got it right. People are making comparisons with Luis Suarez, but he used the term negro seven times, whereas Terry was found guilty of using racist language once. I know he had already appeared in a court of law but this was a different charge. It was simply use of racist language and, having been found guilty, a four-game ban is about right.

Fined and banned: John Terry has had his punishment from The FA

Fined and banned: John Terry has had his punishment from The FA

NEIL ASHTON (Football news correspondent)

Four games is irrelevant. If it is confirmed in the FA’s judgment that John Terry was wrong to accuse Anton Ferdinand of inventing a racist allegation at Loftus Road last October, the biggest punishment for Terry is that he will have to live with that. It would be seen as an immoral tool that Terry used to try to wriggle out of the charges.

CHRIS WHEELER (Football reporter)

/09/28/article-2210270-13FE72BD000005DC-821_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Flashpoint: The moment when Terry was accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand last season” class=”blkBorder” />

Flashpoint: The moment when Terry was accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand last season

SHAKA HISLOP (Former Newcastle keeper)

The FA are weak, biased and xenophobic. I have lost all faith in them. There are a number of ways you can abuse someone over their skin colour and John Terry went to one extreme. From now on, is it OK to shout racist abuse at someone, provided it finishes with a question mark Absolutely not. The FA are showing they are quite happy to stamp out racism, as long as it is not committed by an Anglo-Saxon English captain of the national team.

ALAN PARDEW (Newcastle manager)

You want to see consistency in the number of games and the fine and that needs to be looked at going forward because the fine should be heavy if he is guilty. I am not in possession of all the facts but I think the FA should explain why they have come to those decisions.

London Welsh 13 Leicester 38 match report: Tigers dish out harsh lesson

London Welsh 13 Leicester 38: Exiles given lesson by Tigers on Premiership bow

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UPDATED:

16:50 GMT, 2 September 2012

Aviva Premiership newcomers London Welsh were given an insight into the harsh realities of life in the top flight as Leicester recorded an emphatic bonus-point win at the Kassam Stadium.

Championship winners Welsh had needed to go through a Rugby Football Union appeals process just to get this far, but any jubilation at reaching the top flight looked set to be crushed as two Thomas Waldrom tries helped Leicester to a 17-0 lead.

However, the hosts showed great courage, and no little skill, to fight back through tries from Tom Arscott and Hudson Tonga'uhia and they trailed by just seven at the break.

On the charge: Toby Flood breaks through the London Welsh back line

On the charge: Toby Flood breaks through the London Welsh back line

But further scores from Geoff Parling, Julian Salvi and Vereniki Goneva sealed Leicester's victory, with fly-half Toby Flood converting all five tries and a penalty for a 13-point haul.

Gordon Ross' penalty was all Welsh could muster in the second stanza.

Flood and Ross had both missed early penalty opportunities, but the England fly-half made no mistake in the eighth minute after Welsh had folded in at a scrum.

The first try soon followed with the home side's inability to hold on to possession already proving key.

Tigers took the play through several phases and the Exiles resistance broke with Flood's long pass putting Tom Youngs through a hole to link with Parling and Anthony Allen to send Waldrom over in the corner.

Getting away: Jonah Holmes tries to escape the Leicester defence

Getting away: Jonah Holmes tries to escape the Leicester defence

Flood added the touchline conversion, and another threatening Leicester attack was only stopped by Joe Ajuwa's high tackle on a rampaging Manu Tuilagi.

Having used the rapier for their opening score, the Tigers switched to the bludgeon for their second as two huge rolling mauls splintered the Welsh pack to smithereens, with Waldrom again the beneficiary.

Welsh bravely hit back after stripping Leicester of the ball on the edge of the Tigers 22.
Scrum-half Jonah Holmes provided the impetus for Arscott to slide between two defenders and dot down for a debut try to make the score 17-5.

Dive for the line: Thomas Waldrom goes over for a try

Dive for the line: Thomas Waldrom goes over for a try

Having looked in danger of an opening day hiding, the hosts fightback gathered momentum just before the break.

Moments after Holmes had gone close to the line with a break down the left, centre Tonga'uhia caught the Leicester defence sleeping at a ruck to canter over in the right-hand corner and trim the deficit to seven points.

With some choice words from Richard Cockerill doubtlessly ringing in their ears, Tigers reasserted their authority within 90 seconds of the restart.

Another powerful maul sucked in the home defence, and England lock Parling had an easy finish out wide as Geordan Murphy and Tuilagi put him over.

Flood again converted, although his charged down clearance from the restart led to Ross knocking over a penalty for Welsh.

But the Tigers' bonus point try quickly arrived as a series of pick and drives took the visitors through the heart of the Exiles defence, with flanker Salvi crashing over under the sticks for a 31-13 lead.

Goneva then rounded off matters with his first Leicester try as he escaped past two defenders despite space being at a premium down the left.

London 2012 Paralympics: David Weir hits back at Jon-Allan Butterworth

Weir hits back in row over funding after Butterworth claims athletes are 'having a laugh'

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 27 August 2012

Wheelchair racing star David Weir insists Team GB’s Paralympians are serious about improving on their Beijing medal haul after para-cycling world champion Jon-Allan Butterworth claimed too many homegrown athletes are ‘just having a laugh’ ahead of the London Games.

Butterworth, who will be making his Paralympic debut in London, suggested lottery funding for athletics should be scrapped and the money handed to cycling due to Team GB’s poor track-and-field performance in China four years ago.

But Weir, the only member of Team GB’s athletics squad to win medals in Beijing, collecting two golds, a silver and a bronze, insisted the strong showing at last year’s IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand proves the money has been well spent.

Hitting back: David Weir dismissed suggestions athletes don't deserve funding

Hitting back: David Weir dismissed suggestions athletes don't deserve funding

Weir said: ‘Whatever he (Butterworth) wants to say is up to him. The funding we have had after Beijing has helped us win medals. We have got a young team and it wasn’t just me who won gold at the World Championships.

‘The performance in New Zealand shows we have jumped up another level. It showed the world that we are still a force in athletics. ‘Hopefully we can go up another level and perform well at our home games. I am pretty confident that we will.’

The furore caused by Butterworth’s comments prompted him to apologise to his Team GB compatriots.

‘I was ill-informed and was not aware how hard the selection process is in athletics,’ he said in a statement. ‘The team ethos is important to me and I apologise if I’ve upset any of my fellow athletes.’

Claims: Jon-Allan Butterworth

Claims: Jon-Allan Butterworth

Cycling performance manager Gareth Sheppard is also understood to have apologised to his athletics counterpart, Peter Eriksson, for Butterworth’s ill-judged remarks.

‘We don’t want to get carried away with this and let it distract from our preparation,’ he said. ‘There’s always banter between sports and this is no different.

‘We’ve talked to Jon-Allan and he realises how this could be received by other athletes. It was not his intention to make headlines in this way.’

Meanwhile, swimmer Ellie Simmonds, one of Team GB’s Paralympic leading lights, is adamant all athletes have given their all to ensure they perform at their very best on home soil.

‘Everyone says the wrong thing sometimes,’ said Simmonds, who won two gold medals in Beijing aged just 13. ‘Every athlete is determined to go out there and make our country proud.

‘Every athlete has been giving his or her all in training. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to go out and get a medal or get a personal best in our home games.’

Rugby League legends statue to be erected outside Wembley Stadium

Rugby League legends set to be honoured with statue outside Wembley Stadium

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UPDATED:

13:21 GMT, 23 August 2012

A group statue of rugby league legends Martin Offiah, Alex Murphy, Billy Boston, Eric Ashton and Gus Risman is to be erected outside Wembley Stadium.

Rugby league, whose Challenge Cup final has been played at the national stadium since 1929, is only the second sport to be recognised by Wembley, with the five legends set to appear alongside Bobby Moore, captain of England's 1966 World Cup-winning team.

The final choice was made by the RFL's board of directors from a shortlist assembled following a public vote and a number of selection panels comprising fans, journalists, coaches, players and MPs, and was announced at Wembley 48 hours before the 2012 final between Leeds and Warrington.

Try of the century: Martin Offiah celebrates scoring against Wigan in the 1994 final

Try of the century: Martin Offiah celebrates scoring against Wigan in 1994

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood said: 'The RFL board's view echoed that of the many thousands of people who were involved in the selection process in that the statue needed to be a group representation.

'So many players have contributed to the rich history of the sport and its association with Wembley and the board were keen that that should be reflected in the statue.

'Having Risman, Boston, Ashton, Murphy and Offiah all part of the statue means that every generation of the sport is celebrated.'

Wembley Stadium managing director Roger Maslin said: 'Wembley Stadium is inextricably linked with rugby league and most specifically the Challenge Cup.

Up for the Cup: Eric Ashton (holding cup) is also remembered in the statue

Up for the Cup: Eric Ashton (holding cup) is also remembered in the statue

'At Wembley Stadium we constantly strive
to inspire memories and the players being honoured today have
undoubtedly given their supporters and the wider sporting public as a
whole plenty of memories to cherish.'

Offiah, best remembered for his stunning
length-of-the-field try for Wigan against Leeds in 1994, was shocked to
discover he would form part of the statue.

'I couldn't believe it when I heard the news,' he said. 'I've said from the beginning that I'd be proud to support a rugby league statue at Wembley, no matter whom or what it was.

'But to know that I will be part of the statue is very special. This sits alongside anything that I achieved in my playing career. I'm immensely proud.'

Murphy, who captained three different sides at the iconic venue and has an unbeaten record there as both player and coach, is equally honoured to be part of the work of art.

Picture perfect: Leigh's Alex Murphy takes a snap of his team-mates

Picture perfect: Leigh's Alex Murphy takes a snap of his team-mates

Honoured: Gus Risman lifts the Cup with Workington Town in 1952

Honoured: Gus Risman lifts the Cup with Workington Town in 1952

'A match at Wembley is the most important in a player's career,' he said.

'No matter the nationality, you always dream of playing at Wembley.

'So to have a statue representing the history of rugby league at the stadium is a great accolade for the sport.'

Boston said: 'It's a wonderful honour and privilege. I'm deeply moved that there's going to be a statue of me outside Wembley alongside Gus, Alex, Martin and Eric and that people will look on us all as they do Bobby Moore.

'There is no finer venue anywhere in the world. It's a fabulous stadium and it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up every year when I come to watch matches here.'

Offiah, Murphy and Boston all attended today's announcement, with Bev Risman representing his late father Gus and the late Eric Ashton represented by daughters Michelle Huyton and Beverley Smith.

The sculpture is set to be unveiled in time for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup semi-final double-header at Wembley next November.