Tag Archives: schedule

SIX NATIONS 2013: Brian O"Driscoll returns for Wales v Ireland

O'Driscoll, Kearney, Best and O'Brien all return to take on Wales in Ireland opener

By
Duncan Bech, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

14:20 GMT, 29 January 2013

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UPDATED:

15:12 GMT, 29 January 2013

Ireland have restored Brian O'Driscoll, Rob Kearney, Rory Best and Sean O'Brien to their XV for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations opener against Grand Slam champions Wales in Cardiff.

The experienced and influential quartet missed the entire autumn schedule through injury but return at outside centre, full back, openside and hooker respectively.

For the first time since succeeding Keith Wood as captain in 2004, O'Driscoll is relieved of the leadership duties following coach Declan Kidney's decision to appoint No 8 Jamie Heaslip skipper.

It's good to be back: Brian O'Driscoll in Ireland training at Carton House in Co. Kildare on Tuesday

It's good to be back: Brian O'Driscoll in Ireland training at Carton House in Co. Kildare on Tuesday

The 34-year-old resumes his centre partnership alongside Leinster team-mate Gordon D'Arcy for a record 48th time with Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray selected at half-back.

Kearney forms an exciting back three that features Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo on the wings after the inexperienced duo impressed throughout the autumn.

'It was a tight call because there's so much competition. Fergus McFadden and Keith Earls have been playing well, so it's testament to the way Craig and Simon have been playing that they're selected,' Kidney said.

Show of strength: Rob Kearney will also be back in Ireland colours at the Millennium Stadium

Show of strength: Rob Kearney will also be back in Ireland colours at the Millennium Stadium

Ireland team to face Wales at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday, (KO 1:30pm)

R Kearney (Leinster); C Gilroy (Ulster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster), G D'Arcy (Leinster), S Zebo (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), M McCarthy (Connacht), D Ryan (Munster), P O'Mahony (Munster), S O'Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster, capt).

Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster),
D Kilcoyne (Munster), D Fitzpatrick (Ulster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), C Henry (Ulster),
E Reddan (Leinster), R O'Gara (Munster),
K Earls (Munster).

In total there are four changes in
personnel to the side that thumped Argentina 46-24 in the climax to a
mixed November, among them Chris Henry's demotion to the bench.

O'Brien was assured of a spot in the back row once he had returned to fitness, but Henry is unfortunate to have made way with Peter O'Mahony preferred at blindside.

'We felt that in terms of a mix in the back row this was the best combination, but there was certainly plenty to talk about following Chris' performances in the autumn,' Kidney said.

Ireland, the bookmakers' third favourites to win the Six Nations, have lost their last three matches to Wales, including a 23-21 loss on the opening day of the championship last year.

But while the injury-hit Welsh enter the tournament as champions, they have endured seven successive defeats including a whitewash during a troubled autumn.

Manchester City full of festive cheer as they train on Christmas Eve

Merry Mario leads Manchester City training as defending champions gear up for festive period

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UPDATED:

15:40 GMT, 24 December 2012

Making up two points on leaders and fierce rivals Manchester United would have bought more than a hint of festive cheer to City's training ground on Christmas Eve.

And the presence of the club's very own crackers character Mario Balotelli gave the squad a lift, as did the sight of captain Vincent Kompany coming through the session.

In fact, so good was the spirit in camp that youngster Matija Nastasic, who has previously enjoyed a winter break in Italy, said he was relishing his first taste of England's traditionally busy Christmas schedule.

Christmas crackers: Manchester City got an early present when they made up two points on United

Christmas crackers: Manchester City got an early present when they made up two points on United

Christmas cheer: Mario Balotelli was put through his paces in the freezing cold of Manchester

Christmas cheer: Mario Balotelli was put through his paces in the freezing cold of Manchester

Christmas cheer: Mario Balotelli was put through his paces in the freezing cold of Manchester

The 19-year-old centre-back, who has
made a big impression since his arrival from Fiorentina in August, is
unfazed by the prospect of playing five games in the space of 15 days.

He
is also far from concerned by the fact the next two of those matches,
at Sunderland on Boxing Day and Norwich next Saturday, will involve
lengthy journeys.

'To me
it is not a problem,' said the Serbia international. 'I am always happy
when I am playing, so this time of the season makes me happiest of all!

Carlos the joker: Tevez was the one enjoying the Christmas Ever session the most, judging by his smile

Carlos the joker: Tevez was the one enjoying the Christmas Ever session the most, judging by his smile

Carlos the joker: Tevez was the one enjoying the Christmas Ever session the most, judging by his smile

'My father and mother are here, so I won't miss my family. I don't look at the two long away trips as a problem at all.

'Now we concentrate on the Sunderland game, and then we focus on Norwich – it's not a headache.

'The league in Italy stops, and we have a break, but playing here is no problem for me. I am looking forward to the next couple of games.'

City needed a last-gasp winner from Gareth Barry to beat Barclays Premier League bottom side Reading in the first of their festive matches at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Having gone into the game trailing leaders Manchester United by six points, the champions were in danger of handing their title rivals another boost until Barry headed home a contentious goal in injury time.

Reading felt Barry had fouled Nicky Shorey but City celebrated a valuable three points amid much relief and their joy increased later in the weekend when Swansea held United to a draw.

Although Reading showed commendable
resilience throughout, Nastasic felt victory was deserved for City's
obvious superiority and greater number of chances over the whole game.

Nastasic
said: 'We knew the game would be difficult because it was obvious they
would just come and defend, but we deserved the goal in the last minute.

'Reading
played 11 men behind the ball, in a small area which always makes it
very difficult to attack – but that was their game plan.

Space at the table: Roberto Mancini will no doubt be distracted on the big day as he prepares for Boxing Day

Space at the table: Roberto Mancini will no doubt be distracted on the big day as he prepares for Boxing Day

Hart stopper: Joe Hart will hope 2013 doesn't see a repeat of the odd mistake he made this year

Hart stopper: Joe Hart will hope 2013 doesn't see a repeat of the odd mistake he made this year

'We are a very strong team, self-motivated and full of confidence at the moment. What is important is that we keep the same attitude, if we want to win the Premier League. We won the game, and that is the important thing.'

Nastasic's consistent and unfussy performances are currently keeping England centre-back Joleon Lescott out of the City side.

There was even the unusual sight on Saturday of Lescott and captain Vincent Kompany – the heart of City's title-winning defence last season – on the bench as Nastasic partnered Kolo Toure.

Manager Roberto Mancini's regard for the player is evident and he is quickly becoming a fans' favourite.

Nastasic
said: 'It makes me happy if the fans think highly of me, and I just
want to keep playing the way I am – that is the objective for the whole
team, not just me.'

Kompany
was not risked against Reading as he continues to recover from the
groin injury he suffered in the Manchester derby defeat a fortnight ago.

Head for the top: Gareth Barry got the champion out of trouble with a late goal against Reading

Head for the top: Gareth Barry got the champion out of trouble with a late goal against Reading

Head for the top: Gareth Barry got the champion out of trouble with a late goal against Reading

Another teenager, Karim Rekik, was also deployed at left-back as both Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov were sidelined by niggles.

Their fitness will be assessed ahead of the trip to the Stadium of Light while controversial striker Mario Balotelli could come back into contention after illness last week but forward Samir Nasri is out with a hamstring injury.

The match marks the halfway point of the season and Mancini wants his side to start picking up the tempo.

The Italian said: 'We can work better but at the same time I think that we need to do more than last year. From the first six months we need to work better – that's individuals and the group.'

Samir Nasri injury doubt for Manchester City over Christmas period – exclusive

EXCLUSIVE: Man City blow as crocked Nasri is ruled out of Christmas period

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UPDATED:

22:50 GMT, 19 December 2012

Manchester City forward Samir Nasri faces a struggle to play any part of the Barclays Premier League champions' festive programme after injuring his groin.

The France international looked back to his best Newcastle last weekend but had to come off in the first half.

Now he has been told he cannot play for two weeks, a prognosis that rules him out of games against Reading, Sunderland and Norwich and leaves him extremely doubtful for the meeting with Stoke on New Year's Day.

Blow: Nasri is unlikely to play over the Festive period after injuring his groin

Blow: Nasri is unlikely to play over the Festive period after injuring his groin

City, in common with most clubs, face a fixture schedule of four games in eleven days over Christmas and New Year, meaning that Nasri's injury comes at the worst possible time for a team looking at a six-point gap between them and Manchester United at the top of the league.

Having been widely blamed for gifting United a winning goal in the recent derby game by hiding at the end of the defensive wall, Nasri's response at Newcastle had impressed manager Roberto Mancini.

Mancini is already shorter of attacking options than he would have wished, having lost Mario Balotelli to illness.

The Italian striker missed his second successive day of training yesterday on the day he decided not to pursue his case against City at a Premier League tribunal.

U-turn: Balotelli dropped his case against City and paid the 340,000 fine

U-turn: Balotelli dropped his case against City and paid the 340,000 fine

Balotelli dropped the case at the last minute and agreed to pay a 340,000 fine imposed by City at the end of last season for picking up too many red and yellow cards.

Balotelli's agent Mino Raiola said: 'Mario is committed to City. He doesn't want to leave the club.

'He's always wanted to stay and this case hasn't changed this. He is committed in Manchester.'

Oscar not happy at Chelsea but Rafa Benitez rejects rift talk

Oscar's not happy because he's not playing… but there's no rift, says Rafa

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UPDATED:

09:01 GMT, 19 December 2012

No problem: Rafa Benitez has played down talk of a rift with Oscar

No problem: Rafa Benitez has played down talk of a rift with Oscar

Rafael Benitez welcomes Oscar's dismay at his exclusion from Chelsea's starting line-up in Sunday's Club World Cup final against Corinthians.

Oscar will feature in tonight's Capital One Cup quarter-final at Leeds but has been used sparingly by interim manager Benitez to date, starting just three of his seven games in charge.

The Brazilian playmaker expressed his disappointment after being selected on the bench against Corinthians, but Benitez insists there is no rift with the player.

'Oscar is fine. He's a very good professional. We don't have any issue with him,' he said.

'I try to manage players, especially in his position because we have Eden Hazard and Juan Mata, who can do more or less the same job.

'It's difficult for them but it's good for me because I have different problems. There's are no issues or problems.

'Oscar will have a lot of time on the pitch and I'm sure he'll be a great player for the club.

Backing: Benitez believes Oscar will be great for Chelsea but warned he must bide his time

Backing: Benitez believes Oscar will be great for Chelsea but warned he must bide his time

'Oscar's not happy because he's not playing and that's fantastic. There would be a problem if it was the opposite.'

Leeds will be Benitez' eighth game in charge since taking over 25 days ago, a hectic schedule that continues with Christmas fixtures against Aston Villa, Norwich, Everton and QPR.

'We have to win every competition if we can. We have rivalry with Leeds and we have one less competition to win after losing on Sunday,' Benitez said.

'We can't just call it another game, it's a very important match for us.

'Christmas time is a crucial period because you can play so many games that will change everything.'

Plenty to ponder: Benitez admitted the club are busy identifying potential recruits for January

Plenty to ponder: Benitez admitted the club are busy identifying potential recruits for January

Benitez admits he is in daily discussions with technical director Michael Emenalo over potential transfer activity for January.

'Hopefully we have two or three days after this game where we'll have plenty of time to talk about names,' he said.

'There's no formal meeting because we can chat every day. Michael is watching the training session and we talk every day – about players and how the team is doing.

'I know what Michael likes and he knows what I like and we come to an agreement.'

Chelsea have been stretched by the loss of John Obi Mikel, Gary Cahill and Ramires to suspension and while striker Daniel Sturridge may return from his hamstring injury against Leeds, John Terry is still out with a knee problem despite returning to training yesterday.

Jan Vertonghen says Spurs can win without Gareth Bale

We can win without Bale! Vertonghen adamant Spurs not a one-man team

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UPDATED:

17:49 GMT, 17 December 2012

Jan Vertonghen believes Tottenham's victory over Swansea proves they can flourish without winger Gareth Bale.

Spurs climbed to fourth in the Barclays Premier League after Vertonghen fired them to a 1-0 triumph with his first goal in the competition at White Hart Lane yesterday.

Bale has been sidelined for two weeks with a hamstring injury and failed to make the squad yesterday and Tottenham are criticised for their lack of penetration in the Welsh winger's absence.

Vertonghen scored the only goal in a hard-fought win over Swansea on Sunday

Vertonghen scored the only goal in a hard-fought win over Swansea on Sunday

But Vertonghen, a 12million summer signing from Ajax, believes Clint Dempsey has proved a capable deputy.

'Maybe we needed a little more width on the pitch but Clint has replaced Gareth very well, like he has done with all the strikers already,' he said.

'Of course Gareth is a world class player, but we did well without him.

'We have a big squad but have had too many injuries. But even without those players we've played quite well. When everybody comes back we'll have a very strong team.'

Vertonghen insists the victory has set Tottenham up for a Christmas schedule that begins against Stoke at White Hart Lane on Saturday and also includes fixtures against Aston Villa, Sunderland and Reading.

Tottenham moved level on points with third-placed Chelsea

Tottenham moved level on points with third-placed Chelsea

Bale has been out with a hamstring injury

Bale has been out with a hamstring injury

'We needed to win our two matches games, this being the first one. It's important to enter Christmas with a good feeling,' the 25-year-old said.

'We did okay against Swansea. We know Swansea are a good passing team but we put them under pressure and created a lot of chances.'

Just as pleasing as Spurs' third clean sheet of the season was their refusal to concede the type of late goal that has hamstrung them under manager Andre Villas-Boas.

In their 24 matches this season, they have been breached 13 times in the last 15 minutes and had their matches finished at 80 minutes, they would be top of the table.

'We've conceded too many goals in the last 10 minutes, we know that. We have to keep our focus for 95 minutes,' Vertonghen said.

'We talked about not conceding late goals and last week was a perfect example. We concentrated very hard.

'It would have been nice to win 2-0 but we didn't give them many chances.'

Six seasons spent at Ajax before joining Tottenham has conditioned Vertonghen to a winter break, but he is happy to change his routine and play over Christmas.

'I love the winter break and it would be welcome because of the amount of games I play,' he said.

'But it's tradition and there are amazing atmospheres on Boxing Day and January 1. I love playing football so I don't really care. My family will come over for a few days.'

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup saw no shame in the defeat at White Hart Lane.

'On a day when our passing game maybe wasn't at its best, we were really competitive until the last second against a really good team on their ground so I can't complain about the performance – we know we can't win them all,' he said.

Hatem Ben Arfa out of Newcastle"s Christmas schedule after hamstring injury

Christmas break for Ben Arfa as Pardew takes no chances on hamstring injury

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UPDATED:

23:50 GMT, 16 December 2012

Newcastle United midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa is out of the club’s Christmas schedule.

The France international has not fully recovered from a hamstring injury, despite returning and scoring against Fulham last week, and he missed Saturday’s defeat to Manchester City.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew revealed the club had decided to rest Ben Arfa for at least three weeks rather than risk losing him for longer with his fellow Frenchman Yohan Cabaye out until February at least.

Injury setback: Hatem Ben Arfa will miss Newcastle's Christmas schedule after picking up a hamstring injury in the defeat to Manchester City

Injury setback: Hatem Ben Arfa will miss Newcastle's Christmas schedule after picking up a hamstring injury in the defeat to Manchester City

Pardew said: 'There is a danger he could tear that and if he did that he would be out for two or three months whereas if we do it the right way and be sensible about it, it may only be three weeks. And obviously that is the route we are going to take.’

The Newcastle manager made a point of praising supporters who had more than played their part in their side’s second half resurgence in an enthralling game, the best the ground has seen this season by some distance.

He called for more patience with his stretched squad for next week’s crucial home clash with Queen’s Park Rangers.

His team have still not overturned a half-time deficit to a victory in the Premier League for six years but they certainly gave it a go after a wretched first-half.

Singing the blues: Manchester City proved too strong for Newcastle on Saturday, winning 3-1

Singing the blues: Manchester City proved too strong for Newcastle on Saturday, winning 3-1

They were just fortunate, with City absolutely unplayable, the visitors did not hit double figures by the break.

Pardew added: 'When you have a mental hurdle like being 2-0 down to the champions, it is not easy to play under those conditions so a lot of credit to the players. I really find it difficult to say to them 'look you’ve only got three points for the last four games’ but that’s the truth.

'We have to keep believing in what we are doing. I know there is not much difference in terms of performance from last season but I do think we have gone through a period of conceding soft goals against us and that has been costly.

'You can change the mood very quickly at this ground, that’s the beauty we have with the fans we’ve got and we did come out. The crowd got behind us we got a goal and suddenly the whole atmosphere changed.

No risks: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has said Ben Arfa will play no part in the club's Christmas fixtures

No risks: Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has said Ben Arfa will play no part in the club's Christmas fixtures

'You didn’t need to be a genius to work out that the fans would be patient with us today playing the champions but we need that same patience against QPR. The players are going to be edgy because of the position we are in.

'Having said that I still think we have very good players in this group still to come back. I sense that between now and the end of January is the period for us to make sure we keep out of that bottom area, keep roughly where we are or a little bit higher and we will be ok.

'The QPR game I don’t know how you could put it on a scale. But if we play like we did today we will win.’

John Terry pictured in his pants watching Chelsea on TV v Monterrey

Meanwhile… in Cobham: The stadium might be half empty but Terry's watching his team-mates on TV

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UPDATED:

14:00 GMT, 13 December 2012

Even though there were only 36,648 fans in the 72,327 capacity Nissan Stadium in Yokohama to watch Chelsea's 3-1 Club World Cup semi-final triumph over Monterrey, skipper John Terry was watching on television.

As most of the Blues' players explored the delights of Japan in the past few days, life has been continuing as normal for two familiar faces.

Back at the club's training ground in Cobham, Terry continued his recuperation from a knee ligament injury and posted a picture of himself watching the game.

Support: John Terry backed his team-mates to beat Monterrey in the Club World Cup

Support: John Terry backed his team-mates to beat Monterrey in the Club World Cup

He has remained in the UK, alongside former club favourite Didier Drogba, who is back training with the club.

Terry had also posted an Instagram picture of
himself on an exercise bike in a deserted gym as he tries to get back to
full fitness to help with Chelsea's hectic schedule.

Lonely: John Terry posted this picture of himself in the gym at Chelsea's Cobham training ground as he continues he rehabilitation from injury while his teammates play in Japan

Lonely: John Terry posted this picture of himself in the gym at Chelsea's Cobham training ground as he continues he rehabilitation from injury while his teammates play in Japan

Old pals: Didier Drogba is also back in training with Terry and Chelsea as he prepares for the African Cup of Nations

Old pals: Didier Drogba is also back in training with Terry and Chelsea as he prepares for the African Cup of Nations

He also took a cosy snap of himself with Drogba, who left for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in the summer and who is back keeping his fitness levels up before representing Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations.

Terry is 6,000 miles away from the rest of his teammates, who are in Japan trying to cap their European Cup-winning year with more silverware.

Back in town: The Ivorian left Chelsea for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in the summer

Back in town: The Ivorian left Chelsea for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in the summer

The 31-year-old defender damaged knee ligaments in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool in November and is expected to be out for over a month.

In order to combat jetlag, manager Rafa Benitez took his players to a Yokohama bowling alley but admitted they were struggling to adapt their sleep patterns to the time difference.

They beat the Mexican side to advance to a final with Brazilian team Corinthians this Sunday.

Meanwhile... In Japan: Chelsea's squad on a walkabout in Yokohama before their Club World Cup semi-final with Monterrey

Meanwhile… In Japan: Chelsea's squad on a walkabout in Yokohama before their Club World Cup semi-final with Monterrey

Big in Japan: Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez meets fans as the team walk around Yokohama before the game

Big in Japan: Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez meets fans as the team walk around Yokohama before the game

Ready for the game: These two Chelsea fans were fully kitted out

Ready for the game: These two Chelsea fans were fully kitted out

John Terry and Didier Drogba train at Cobham as Chelsea play out in Japan

Meanwhile… in Cobham: Terry posts pictures of lonely training with old pal Drogba as Chelsea go for glory in Japan

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UPDATED:

09:37 GMT, 13 December 2012

As most of Chelsea's players explored the delights of Japan ahead of their Club World Cup semi-final with Monterrey on Thursday, life continued as normal for two familiar faces.

Back at the club's training ground in Cobham, captain John Terry continued his recuperation from a knee ligament injury alongside former club favourite Didier Drogba, who is back training with the club.

Terry posted an Instagram picture of himself on an exercise bike in a deserted gym as he tries to get back to full fitness to help with Chelsea's hectic schedule.

Lonely: John Terry posted this picture of himself in the gym at Chelsea's Cobham training ground as he continues he rehabilitation from injury while his teammates play in Japan

Lonely: John Terry posted this picture of himself in the gym at Chelsea's Cobham training ground as he continues he rehabilitation from injury while his teammates play in Japan

Old pals: Didier Drogba is also back in training with Terry and Chelsea as he prepares for the African Cup of Nations

Old pals: Didier Drogba is also back in training with Terry and Chelsea as he prepares for the African Cup of Nations

He also took a cosy snap of himself with Drogba, who left for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in the summer and who is back keeping his fitness levels up before representing Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations.

Terry is 6,000 miles away from the rest of his teammates, who are in Japan trying to cap their European Cup-winning year with more silverware.

Back in town: The Ivorian left Chelsea for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in the summer

Back in town: The Ivorian left Chelsea for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in the summer

The 31-year-old defender damaged knee ligaments in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool in November and is expected to be out for over a month.

In order to combat jetlag, manager Rafa Benitez took his players to a Yokohama bowling alley but admitted they were struggling to adapt their sleep patterns to the time difference.

They face Mexican side Monterrey in Thursday morning, hoping to advance to a final with Brazilian team Corinthians this Sunday.

Meanwhile... In Japan: Chelsea's squad on a walkabout in Yokohama before their Club World Cup semi-final with Monterrey

Meanwhile… In Japan: Chelsea's squad on a walkabout in Yokohama before their Club World Cup semi-final with Monterrey

Big in Japan: Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez meets fans as the team walk around Yokohama before the game

Big in Japan: Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez meets fans as the team walk around Yokohama before the game

Ready for the game: These two Chelsea fans were fully kitted out

Ready for the game: These two Chelsea fans were fully kitted out

Everton v Cheltenham: FA Cup scouting report

Cheltenham scouting report: What Everton must be wary of in the FA Cup

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UPDATED:

18:37 GMT, 12 December 2012

David Moyes made the long trip to Hereford on Tuesday night to watch Everton's prospective opponents in the FA Cup Third Round.

As the night turned out, it was a neat near-post header by Cheltenham substitute Kaid Mohamed that settled it in the Robins' favour.

But here are five mental notes that Moyes certainly will have made following his cold night out at Edgar Street.

1. Jermaine McGlashan

The winger was given a torrid time after referee Dean Whitestone adjudged that he had been dragged over by Andy Gallinagh in first-half injury-time.

Speed demon: Jermaine McGlashan could cause Everton problems

Speed demon: Jermaine McGlashan could cause Everton problems

But he has a serious turn of pace and, although the end product does not always match the approach, he only needs to get lucky once – as he did at Edgar Street.

2. Cheltenham weren't bullied

Martin Foyle has some big lads in his Hereford team – midfielders Harry Pell and Will Evans stand well over six feet tall and the Robins stood up well to their challenge. It is particularly apt if Marouane Fellaini is chosen for the trip to Gloucestershire.

3. No kick and rush

I liked the look of midfielder Russ Penn. In the best traditions of central midfielders he keeps things ticking over. He was the victim of a horrible challenge which ruined his evening but before then he had been the fulcrum of a team that was trying to play on a difficult circumstance.

Winner: Kaid Mohamed (right) send Cheltenham through

Winner: Kaid Mohamed (right) send Cheltenham through

4. Confidence

Although Mark Yates is battling with a smallish squad, there is nothing that acts as a greater aid to confidence than winning matches regularly. League Two clubs have a busy schedule over the holiday period but if the Robins can defeat fellow high-fliers Port Vale on Saturday, they could be on the cusp of just the type of run that sends them into their plum tie on the crest of a wave.

5. Past experience

It won't have gone un-noticed on Merseyside that this season marks the tenth anniversary of an FA Cup exit at the same stage of the season at Moyes' expense.

Upset: Shrewsbury's Nigel Jemson scored the winner against Everton

Upset: Shrewsbury's Nigel Jemson scored the winner against Everton

It may not have been the primary reason for the Scot getting into his car and making the long journey south, but memories of a painful 2-1 defeat by Shrewsbury, managed by former favourite Kevin Ratcliffe, may be what has led Everton's boss into leaving no stone unturned.

Bradford City reinstated to FA Cup

Bradford bonus No 2! City reinstated to FA Cup after successful appeal hours after knocking Arsenal out of League Cup

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UPDATED:

17:57 GMT, 12 December 2012


Reinstated: Bradford had been banned for fielding Curtis Good (pictured) in their FA Cup tie with Brentford - but the decision was overturned on appeal today

Reinstated: Bradford had been banned for fielding Curtis Good (pictured) in their FA Cup tie with Brentford – but the decision was overturned on appeal today

Bradford City have today successfully appealed their expulsion from the FA Cup and remain in all three cup competitions.

They had been removed after fielding an ineligible player in their second round tie with Brentford at Valley Parade.

But a Football Association appeals panel decided to reinstate them, issuing a 1,000 fine instead.

It means the scheduled replay at Griffin Park will now go ahead as planned on December 18.

The fixture will be added to a crowded fixture schedule for the Bantams, who are through to the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup and are also still in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.

Bradford played Newcastle United loanee Curtis Good in the 1-1 draw with Brentford on November 30, breaching the competition's rules.

But the decision to expel them has now been overturned on appeal. A club statement read: 'We can confirm that on appeal the club has now been reinstated back into the F.A Cup competition and has been fined for its actions.

'We deeply regret our breach of the rules and are currently reviewing our procedures to ensure no repeat of this situation.

'Therefore the original replay of the club's F.A Cup Second Round tie at Brentford FC scheduled for Tuesday 18 December 2012 will now take place at the Bees' Griffin Park stadium.

'The club would like to go on record and express gratitude to our legal partners who represented us before the tribunal.

'The club also wishes to extend its gratitude to The FA Appeals Committee for dealing with this matter expeditiously, justly and mercifully.'

Brentford or Bradford will play Southend United in the third round.

The Bantams recorded a memorable penalty shoot-out victory over Arsenal in the Capital One Cup last night. They are still in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy too, having beaten Port Vale last week.

That's magic! Bradford celebrate dramatic victory over Arsenal in the Capital One Cup last night

That's magic! Bradford celebrate dramatic victory over Arsenal in the Capital One Cup last night