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Brighton 6 Blackpool 1 – match report: Ashley Barnes scores twice on return

Brighton 6 Blackpool 1: Barnes bags brace as high-flying Seagulls dominate

PUBLISHED:

16:46 GMT, 20 April 2013

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UPDATED:

17:14 GMT, 20 April 2013

Ashley Barnes scored twice on his return from a seven-match suspension as Brighton thumped Blackpool to extended their unbeaten run to seven matches.

Will Buckley put his side ahead in the ninth minute before Matt Upson scored his first goal in a Brighton shirt from six yards out 14 minutes later.

Andrea Orlandi made it 3-0 in the 45th minute before David Lopez scored straight after the half-time break. Dean Hammond's own goal made it 4-1 before Barnes added two late goals on his return.

Back with a bang: Ashley Barnes scored twice on his return from suspension in Brighton's 6-1 win

Back with a bang: Ashley Barnes scored twice on his return from suspension in Brighton's 6-1 win

MATCH FACTS

Brighton: Kuszczak (Ankergren 64), Calderon, Greer, Upson, Bridge (Saltor 66), Bridcutt, Hammond, Lopez, Barnes, Orlandi, Buckley (LuaLua 72).

Subs Not Used: El-Abd, Crofts, Vicente, Ulloa.

Booked: Greer.

Goals: Buckley 9, Upson 23, Orlandi 45, Lopez 46, Barnes 76, 90.

Blackpool: Gilks, Crainey, Baptiste, Basham (Taylor-Fletcher 46), Broadfoot, Sylvestre, Ferguson, MacKenzie, Phillips (Eccleston 89), Ince, Delfouneso, Taylor-Fletcher (Derbyshire 71).

Subs Not Used: Halstead, Eardley, Cathcart, Martinez.

Booked: Ince.

Goals: Hammond 53 og.

Att: 28,499

Ref: Tony Bates (Staffordshire).

Latest Championship table and results

The hosts were boosted by the return
of striker Barnes who came back from a seven-match ban he picked up for
appearing to trip referee Nigel Miller in his side's 1-0 defeat to
Bolton in March.

Winger Buckley came in following his
recovery from a hamstring injury, with Leonardo Ulloa and Andrew Crofts
making way for the duo. Blackpool boss Paul Ince made no changes to the
side who played out a goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday in
mid-week.

The Seagulls were quickest out of the
blocks with Buckley causing Blackpool's defenders all sorts of problems
in the early stages. The former Rochdale man tried his luck from range
in the opening minute but his effort was gobbled up by Tangerines
stopper Matt Gilks.

Brighton defender Gordon Greer picked
up a booking in the seventh minute when he felled Nathan Delfouneso to
halt the visitors' counter-attack. Gus Poyet's men continued to dominate
and it came as no surprise when they broke deadlock in the ninth
minute.

Brighton poured forward in numbers
and Barnes played the ball forward to Buckley, who cut inside before
curling the ball high into the corner of the net from 20 yards out,
leaving Gilks stranded.

Further misery was piled onto
Blackpool in the 23rd minute when Orlandi's fantastic cross was headed
back across goal by Inigo Calderon and Upson bundled the ball home from
close range to make it 2-0.

Join the party: Matthew Upson was among the scorers for Brighton in their massive victory

Join the party: Matthew Upson was among the scorers for Brighton in their massive victory

Join the party: Matthew Upson was among the scorers for Brighton in their massive victory

CHAMPIONSHIP – AS IT STANDS

Championship

Brighton continued to attack, with
Barnes having three good opportunities to extend his side's lead in the
space of six first-half minutes. Albion made it 3-0 on the brink of
half-time when Orlandi played a wonderful one-two with Lopez before
finding the bottom corner of Gilks' net with a neat finish with the
outside of his foot.

Brighton began the second half as
they ended the first and Lopez made it four within two minutes of the
re-start. Barnes flicked the ball on to Lopez on the edge of the box and
his deflected effort went into the roof of the net.

Tom Ince had a couple of
opportunities to get on the scoresheet in the early stages of the second
half but it was Matt Phillips who set up his side's goal. The former
Wycombe winger launched the ball into the area in the 53rd minute and
his cross was turned into his own net by Hammond.

Kuszczak was replaced by Casper
Ankergren in the 64th minute after the Polish goalkeeper clashed heads
with Blackpool substitute Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

Brighton made two further
substitutions with Kazenga LuaLua and Bruno Saltor replacing Buckley and
Wayne Bridge respectively. LuaLua made an instant impact four minutes
after coming on when he crossed for Barnes to tap in from close range to
make it 5-1.

Barnes made it six in the 90th minute when he stroked the ball home from Orlandi's cross.

Well beaten: Blackpool's Kirk Broadfoot and Matt Phillips look glum during their thrashing

Well beaten: Blackpool's Kirk Broadfoot and Matt Phillips look glum during their thrashing

Stoke defender Ryan Shotton found not guilty after fight outside night club

Stoke defender Shotton found not guilty after fight outside nightclub

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UPDATED:

13:09 GMT, 18 December 2012

Shotton has been on Stoke's books all his career

Shotton has been on Stoke's books all his career

Stoke defender Ryan Shotton has been found not guilty of punching a man on a night out.

Shotton was found to have acted in defence of his friend when he knocked out Mark McDonald in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

The fight happened in the early hours of Sunday, June 24.

The single punch 28-year-old Shotton delivered knocked McDonald out, leaving him with a cut, magistrates sitting at North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard.

Shotton pleaded not guilty on the basis of self-defence following the fight with McDonald and his friend David Broomhall.

McDonald and Shotton, who was with friends, had an altercation on the fringes of Torch nightclub’s dancefloor. All parties were drinking on the night.

McDonald and Shotton were shown on the CCTV face to face, with Shotton then punched once in the face by McDonald.

Shotton said he had 'never seen' McDonald before that moment and was taken by surprise.

He said he 'leaned in' to hear what McDonald was saying but that McDonald used the opportunity to land 'a cheeky shot'.

Asked what McDonald said to him, Shotton replied: 'He said “why do you think you run Stoke-on-Trent You don’t run it, I run it. Don’t you know who I am”

'I thought he was just somebody who had come over to talk about football but he was aggressive.'

Mr Broomhall described that altercation as 'a bit of a scuffle; handbags'.

Shotton pleaded not guilty on the basis of self-defence

Shotton pleaded not guilty on the basis of self-defence

Both parties ended up leaving the club within a few minutes of each other.

Outside, Mr McDonald and Mr Broomhall tried to get into another nightclub called Pink when Mr Broomhall said he spotted Shotton and two friends 'walking towards us'.

He said: 'Mr Shotton was beckoning with his arm to Mark to come over.'

Shotton told a different story, saying as he walked along the road 'two men started walking towards us' from across the street.

'I recognised him from earlier and thought “he’s here for round two”,' he told magistrates.

'He came over to me and his body language was very aggressive. His fists were clenched and I was aware he’d struck before.

'I did it (punched him) to protect my friend because he turned towards him just at that moment.'

Outside court, Shotton, who has made seven league appearances for Stoke this season, said he was 'a happy man' and that he had received 'justice'.

Brian Marwood focused on producing young players for Manchester City not England

We make stars for City… not England: Home-grown talent is not a priority, says Marwood

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UPDATED:

21:37 GMT, 13 October 2012

Manchester City's sporting director Brian Marwood has highlighted the problems of producing top-quality English players by admitting his club ‘should not be ashamed’ to help develop foreign starlets.

In a week when the FA opened their national football centre at St George’s Park in Staffordshire, Marwood struck a more realistic tone as he discussed the motivation behind City’s 100million Etihad Campus, which will be the most advanced and expensive academy in the Premier League when it opens in 2014.

As a former player who came through the ranks at Hull City to win a league title with Arsenal and play for England, Marwood says he would like to help his national team whenever possible.

Next generation: Manchester City want the future stars of the club to come through their system and aim to produce the 'next' Yaya Toure

Next generation: Manchester City want the future stars of the club to come through their system and aim to produce the 'next' Yaya Toure

But he confessed that his main priority is to help City find players regardless of nationality, to save owner Sheik Mansour millions in transfer fees.

‘Our priority is to produce players who will get into City’s first team. From a selfish point of view, that may mean to the detriment of the England team,’ said Marwood. ‘And while it would be great (to help England) because I came through the system and it helped me, we also have to be realistic.

Looking to the future: Brian Marwood wants City to produce their own players

Looking to the future: Brian Marwood wants City to produce their own players

‘If we are trying to produce real top quality to play for City, if they happen to come from another country and we’ve developed them, we shouldn’t be ashamed to embrace it.

We can’t expect our owners to keep spending at the rate they’ve been spending for the past three or four years. We have to start somewhere and change that — and it’s something we’re trying to do.

‘We are looking to produce youngsters to play alongside the likes of Yaya Toure and David Silva. That is the benchmark if we want to be a side competing in every cup competition at home and in Europe.

‘The harsh reality is we have to produce local boys or bring in players from abroad. You see players for our under-21s who have come from Spain, Norway and France. It is something everyone has to deal with because it is a global game.’

Marwood’s candour highlights the problem for future English teams when the domestic league is dominated by clubs who will shop anywhere for the best talent.

Made in Manchester: City want the next David Silva to be a product of their academy

Made in Manchester: City want the next David Silva to be a product of their academy

Quotas where clubs have to name eight homegrown players in their squad do not automatically help the England team. Overseas players are categorised as homegrown if they have spent three years at a Premier League academy, as Cesc Fabregas and Gael Clichy did at Arsenal.

City see themselves as market leaders in the new raft of academies with the Etihad Campus.

It will have more pitches than the St George’s complex — 15 compared to 12 — and provide on-site accommodation and education.

A complex to be proud of: City hope to open a training centre to rival St George's Park

A complex to be proud of: City hope to open a training centre to rival St George's Park

Around a fifth of players who have taken part in this season’s Under-21 Premier League are not qualified to play for England, and City’s Academy already takes in the best young players from around the world. The number of international under-21s who have graduated through their academy include Denis Suarez (Spain), Jeremy Helan (France), Karim Rekik (Holland), Luca Scapuzzi (Italy), John Guidetti (Sweden), Omar Elabdellaoui (Norway), Mohammed Abu (Ghana), Abdul Razak (Ivory Coast), Abdisalam Ibrahim (Norway).

It represents a change in policy for City’s owners, who have splashed out 400m on players to land the title. They now want to reduce their spending to comply with UEFA financial fair play rules.

City’s facilities are a far cry from Marwood’s days as a youngster but he insists the current generation will not be spoilt by the club.

He said: ‘You have to teach them the right values and behaviour — that is ultimately the most important thing.’

Behind the scenes at St George"s Park

The England Lab: Our man tries out the FA's 100m St George's Park complex before Rooney, Gerrard and company move in

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UPDATED:

14:34 GMT, 27 September 2012

In the hotel at St George’s Park, there’s an evocative photo
mosaic of legendary England players and moments of the past. Becks, Gazza,
Robson and Ramsey are all there, taking pride of place in the plush lobby.

But these images are the only concession to the past in the
Football Association’s shiny new 100m headquarters nestled deep in the
Staffordshire countryside.

For the rest of this place is about the future – both in the
almost Space Age training equipment and facilities on offer at every turn but
in the grand vision that brought the whole thing into being.

Welcome mat: The main entrance to St George's Park, the Football Association's new 100m training complex in the Staffordshire countryside

Welcome mat: The main entrance to St George's Park, the Football Association's new 100m training complex in the Staffordshire countryside

Wacky designs: The reception features a multi-coloured selection of football shirts

Wacky designs: The reception features a multi-coloured selection of football shirts

Next month, the England senior squad will walk through its
doors for the first time as they prepare for the latest couplet of World Cup
qualifiers against San Marino and Poland.

They will enter a building that is part-science lab,
part-training ground, part-rehabilitation clinic and part-medical college. For
the first time, our national team will have everything under one roof – no more
working out of hotel rooms and suitcases.

The new home for all 24 English representative teams, from
schoolboys to seasoned pros, St George’s Park is the end result of a
quarter-century of wrangling, planning, budgeting and building.

But this will all be worthwhile if this state-of-the-art
technology helps deliver a first major tournament success in nearly 50 years.

World of wood: One of the changing rooms at St George's Park. Each one is named after a famous England player

World of wood: One of the changing rooms at St George's Park. Each one is named after a famous England player

Inspirational: Quotes from famous names adorn the walls throughout

Inspirational: Quotes from famous names adorn the walls throughout

England’s head physiotherapist Gary Lewin says: ‘This is the
culmination of a 25-year process. In all the time I’ve been involved with
England teams, we’ve always worked out of hotel rooms wherever we are in the
world.

‘At last, we have a ‘home’ and a ‘base camp’ for our medical
staff. But St George’s Park will be much more than that – it’s a centre of
excellence for medical education, coach education and data collection, which
will be shared with universities.’

And those members of staff will have the best of everything.
From this point forward, England failures will owe nothing to physical
deficiencies.

At the heart of the complex is the Human Performance Lab,
full of machines which can tell you everything about the make-up of your body
in nanoseconds.

Ready to race: Four Wattbikes are hooked up to the computers in the Human Performance Lab

Ready to race: Four Wattbikes are hooked up to the computers in the Human Performance Lab

Anti-gravity and anti-oxygen: The AlterG treadmill (right) next to the altitude training chamber

Anti-gravity and anti-oxygen: The AlterG treadmill (right) next to the altitude training chamber

The anti-gravity treadmill is based on technology borrowed
from NASA and strips away up to four-fifths of your body mass to literally take
the weight off your feet.

England stars who pick up knocks on the field can keep up
their training routine without needless pressure on aching joints.

Four Wattbikes – exercise bikes which accurately measure the
amount of power your legs produce on the pedals – add an element of competition
for the players through programmable races.

In the corner, an altitude chamber with a treadmill, bike
and rowing machine to test the efficiency of your respiratory system in low
oxygen.

Alpine air: There's an exercise bike, treadmill and rowing machine in the altitude chamber

Alpine air: There's an exercise bike, treadmill and rowing machine in the altitude chamber

And when the elite athletes move in, every second of their
work out will be logged, recorded and pored over at great length by the finest
medical minds.

Along the tall corridor is the rehabilitation gym, which is
cunningly positioned above the full-size indoor Astroturf pitch, the idea being
that any injured players can be inspired in their recovery by watching their
teammates training below.

Lush: The indoor Astroturf football pitch will be used for training games when the England team move in next month

Lush: The indoor Astroturf football pitch will be used for training games when the England team move in next month

Again it’s packed with the latest equipment as you’d expect.
Technogym won the commission to fit out all the gyms at St George’s and there’s
kit here that looks genuinely frightening – until you start to play about with
it.

The ‘Kinesis’ sounds especially daunting, but its flexible
cables and pulleys allow for an infinite number of different exercises that
work muscles you forget you have.

Elsewhere in the room are good old-fashioned weights and
medicine balls, which the England players will no doubt relish chucking around
in a month’s time.

Inspirational: Exercise bikes overlooking the indoor pitch, so injured players can watch their teammates training below

Inspirational: Exercise bikes overlooking the indoor pitch, so injured players can watch their teammates training below

Im-press-ive: This Technogym leg press is the only one in the world at the moment

Im-press-ive: This Technogym leg press is the only one in the world at the moment

State-of-the-art: Exercise machines in the gym, including the versatile Kinesis One (left)

State-of-the-art: Exercise machines in the gym, including the versatile Kinesis One (left)

To make sure the reactions of Joe Hart, Robert Green and
company are as sharp as they need to be, BATAK boards have been installed.
They’re grids of lights that flash up in random sequence, leading to a flurry
of palm-bashing as players go head-to-head to record the highest score.

Down in the underbelly of the building are the more sedate
surroundings of the Hydrotherapy Suite, where the players will unwind after a
hard training session.

This time, cutting edge technology meets the water – the
Variopool has a moving floor to adjust the depth, there’s an underwater
treadmill for resistance training and the dreaded ice pool, positioned
mercifully close to the warm bubbles of the jacuzzi.

Water world: The Hydrotherapy suite has a main pool (background), ice bath (centre) and jacuzzi (foreground)

Water world: The Hydrotherapy suite has a main pool (background), ice bath (centre) and jacuzzi (foreground)

But despite all this being created ostensibly for the
advancement of the England team, the bosses at St George’s are insistent it
will be accessible to all.

Surprisingly, there are no security gates at the start of
the winding drive to the front door and club sides, local junior teams, individual
athletes in rehab from injury and those simply curious about fitness are being
actively encouraged.

‘This is a centre for the whole football family,’ says the
Park’s Managing Director Julie Harrington. ‘We want to encourage a sense of
belonging for clubs in the Football League, the Premier League and players from
other sports as well.

‘We’re already had Olympic and Paralympic athletes through
the doors, as well as the England rugby team. There’s been interest from people
who like extreme sports and from those who’ve written to us and asked for help
in their recovery from injury.

‘It all about the exchange of ideas this creates.’

There’s no disputing that St George’s Park is an impressive
place. It's value will hopefully become apparent with future England success.

Perform, part of Spire Healthcare, is the official healthcare provider for St. George’s Park, the FA's new training base for the 24 England teams. Visit www.spireperform.com

HEART OF ST GEORGE HOW I DID ON THE EQUIPMENT ENGLAND WILL USE

My visit to St George’s Park was more than just a tour – it
was a hands on chance to try out the same pieces of equipment Wayne Rooney,
Steven Gerrard et al will be using in a few weeks’ time.

Far from being an elite athlete like them, I content myself
with two or three jogs around the park each week and an occasional game of
five-a-side with my mates.

So how would I get on when put through my paces

TEST ONE: THE
WATTBIKE

Everyone likes a tootle out on a bike, but there’s suddenly
a very different feel when you’re lining up in an interactive 1km race against
three fellow journalists.

Strapped in and hunched forward as though bracing for a
gale-forced headwind, I make the decision to power off from the starting line,
pumping my thighs until I’m topping 900 watts of power.

On the screen in front of us, my virtual bike lurches into a
wheel’s lead but I’ve ignored rule number one and gone out far too fast.

On your marks! The contenders line up for the 1km Journo Wattbike race. I'm on the second bike from the left

On your marks! The contenders line up for the 1km Journo Wattbike race. I'm on the second bike from the left

Power surge: During the kilometre race, the bikes accurately record the amount of power output from our legs. I averaged just over 900 watts

Power surge: During the kilometre race, the bikes accurately record the amount of power output from our legs. I averaged just over 900 watts

Close run thing: A win for the Mail Online... but only just

Close run thing: A win for the Mail Online… but only just

Thankfully the early pace means the metres are tumbling down
on the display in front of me and despite the pain creeping into my knees, I’m
able to cling on and win in a time of 1 minute 18.5 seconds.

It’s no exaggeration to say this will probably be the
pinnacle of my sporting life, but I’m soon brought crashing back down to earth
by the trainer, who points out that the guys on the Tour de France do that 200
times over every day… for three weeks.

TEST TWO: THE ALTER G
TREADMILL

This piece of
equipment really is something else. It’s essentially a normal treadmill that’s
been ‘pimped’ by NASA boffins.

You slip on a pair of tight neoprene shorts and then are
zipped into the airtight ‘tent’ which totally encases the treadmill.

As you step on, the AlterG weighs you and adjusts itself
accordingly. As you ramp up the pace, the pressure inside the ‘tent’ can be
altered to strip away your body weight in increments up to 80 per cent.

Space age: Working into a light jog on the AlterG Treadmill as my coach adjusts how much of my body weight has been taken away

Space age: Working into a light jog on the AlterG Treadmill as my coach adjusts how much of my body weight has been taken away

Treadmill tent: You're zipped in to an inflatable enclosure when running on the AlterG

Treadmill tent: You're zipped in to an inflatable enclosure when running on the AlterG

The idea is that athletes can run long distances without
exerting harmful pressure on their knees and ankles. Mo Farah used the
technology before the Olympics to build stamina without straining his joints,
but its main use would be for recovery from injury.

I’m not going as far as Mo, but feel I could run all day
with so much weight taken off my feet.

TEST THREE: BATAK
BOARD

You might have seen this on the Jonathan Ross show and while
it is a fun game, it’s used here to test the agility and reactions of
the players – especially the goalkeepers.

It’s a series of pads mounted on a steel frame – some above
your head, some below your waist and some in between – which light up in random
sequence. You turn them off with your palm as fast as you can manage.

Lights, camera, action! The BATAK Board tests agility and reflexes

Lights, camera, action! The BATAK Board tests agility and reflexes

One hit every second: I scored 30 from my 30 second run

One hit every second: I scored 30 from my 30 second run

I have 30 seconds and record what I thought was a
respectable score of 30 – exactly one light switched off a second.

But it’s a long way short of the records set by the Formula
One drivers who use the BATAK regularly – Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen
can do 138 in a minute, while the unofficial world record is 155!

TEST FOUR: STRENGTH
GYM CIRCUIT

Next, we’re introduced to Grant, whose title of ‘Master
Trainer’ suggests what’s about to unfold isn’t going to be easy. ‘You won’t
need your notebooks for this one,’ he says.

He’s set up a circuit of eight exercises in the strength and
conditioning gym which overlooks the outdoor pitch designed to mimic the
precise dimensions of Wembley Stadium.

Heave! Testing our one of Technogym's Kinesis machines in the St George's Park gym

Heave! Testing our one of Technogym's Kinesis machines in the St George's Park gym

It’s a mix of push-ups, pull-downs, medicine ball throwing,
squat thrusts and pretend kayaking in intense 30 second blocks, a guaranteed
way to shock your muscles into action.

We’re all struggling to get our breath after just four minutes
of rapid-fire exercise, but the England players will do hour after hour on
these shiny new machines.

TEST FIVE: FUNCTIONAL
MOVEMENT EXAM

This is a series of seven apparently straightforward tests
to measure our susceptibility to injury – and it’s harder than it seems.

The trainer awards three points for perfect posture and
form, two if there’s a few wobbles and one if you’re utterly hopeless and can’t
do the exercise at all.

There’s a squat balancing a metre-long ruler above your
head, a step over a piece of string, a plank and an elbow to knee stretch while
balancing on your other arm.

It also shows how balanced you are and it’s soon apparent
that I’m not as symmetrical as I thought. I score 16 out of 21 which is
respectable but doesn’t make me immune from knocks and niggles.

TEST SIX:
HYDROTHERAPY

/09/27/article-2209412-153AFE0C000005DC-636_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”Chilly: The journalists brave the ice bath in the Hydrotherapy suite, while luckier ones get to relax in the jacuzzi” class=”blkBorder” />

Chilly: The journalists brave the ice bath in the Hydrotherapy suite, while luckier ones get to relax in the jacuzzi

Weird feeling: Time for a jog on the underwater treadmill

Weird feeling: Time for a jog on the underwater treadmill

Monitored: The coaches can check stride and posture with the aid of the treadmill's underwater cameras

Monitored: The coaches can check stride and posture with the aid of the treadmill's underwater cameras

The underwater treadmill is a treat at the other end of the
room. You stand on the platform and are lowered into the water, before the band
starts turning and you’re running at a light jog.

Obviously the resistance of the water makes it a hugely
beneficial experience and large television monitors in front of you allow views
of your stride from under the water. I'm sure they can pick up Sky Sports News as well.

TEST SEVEN: FOOTBALL
TRAINING

Our day ends with a chance to try out the luscious Astroturf
surface we’ve been given tantalising glimpses of all afternoon.

A couple of FA coaches oversee the kick around, with their
emphasis on trying to change the mentality of Saturday and Sunday morning coaches
all over the country.

It’s certainly true that if you give a group of Spanish,
Italian or Brazilian lads a ball on the beach and they’ll caress it, pass it
amongst themselves and try to outdo each other with skills and tricks.

English lads in the same situation would have divided
themselves into teams on a pitch with towels for goalposts as quickly as the
next wave comes in.

Dome of dreams: The indoor Astroturf football pitch certainly looks impressive

Dome of dreams: The indoor Astroturf football pitch certainly looks impressive

Tag! The journalists take part in a warm-up exercise on the indoor football pitch

Tag! The journalists take part in a warm-up exercise on the indoor football pitch

The FA is desperate to get kids away from never-ending game
scenarios and into drills designed to improve their technique – so the next
generation can address the gaping technical deficiencies of English teams.

We were shown a few drills but then the pressure to get into
a bit of five-a-side became too much. We played initially in three zones, with
the focus on two-on-one or two-on-two contests, before opening up into a more
traditional knock-about.

It’s the perfect way to let off steam at the end of a great
day.

Michael Owen under no pressure from Stoke boss Tony Pulis

Stoke manager Pulis wary of heaping too much pressure on new boy Owen

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UPDATED:

13:17 GMT, 14 September 2012

Stoke boss Tony Pulis is mindful of putting too much pressure on new signing Michael Owen and has stressed the former England star is simply one of several options now at his disposal in attack.

The Potters completed the capture of Owen, who had been a free agent after his release over the summer by Manchester United, last week on a one-year deal and he could be set for his debut in Saturday's Barclays Premier League visit of Manchester City.

The 32-year-old striker, dogged by a catalogue of injury problems throughout his career, says he feels in good enough condition to feature and he will be assessed by Pulis ahead of kick-off.

No pressure, Michael: Stoke boss Pulis doesn't expect Owen to deliver from the outset

No pressure, Michael: Stoke boss Pulis doesn't expect Owen to deliver from the outset

While fitness is likely be a key factor in how much game time Owen gets at Stoke, he is undoubtedly one of the biggest names ever to join the Staffordshire club and there will be a considerable sense of anticipation among Potters fans about what he might deliver.

The weight of expectation on the ex-Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle frontman is something Pulis wants to try to ease, and the manager has been keen to emphasise that Owen is very much part of a group of forwards in his squad.

'I think by bringing Michael in now, we have got different options,' Pulis said. 'We'll see how it goes – I don't want to put too much pressure on him.

'I just want him to come and enjoy his football and get fit and sharp again at a club where he knows if he plays well, he will have an opportunity.'

Pulis also has Peter Crouch, Jon Walters, Kenwyne Jones, Cameron Jerome and Mamady Sidibe – who has not been included in Stoke's Premier League squad and might go out on loan – to call upon up front.

Of those, Walters and Jerome can also play out wide, but the flanks are another well-stocked department for the Potters and Walters has said this week he will 'relish the challenge' of trying to keep his place in the team.

Owen has been given the No 10 shirt
Pulis says he 'kept' for him even though 'loads of people wanted it',
and there has been plenty of talk about him potentially being paired
with Crouch, who he played alongside for England.

Strike partner: Owen could line up alongside Crouch

Strike partner: Owen could line up alongside Crouch

But Owen does not want to make any assumptions about what lies in store.

'I've played with Peter Crouch a number of times and we have always done well together – that's for all to see,' Owen said.

'But it would be disrespectful to say I am looking forward to playing with Peter.

'There's obviously a lot of good strikers here and there's nothing in my contract to say I'm starting every game. I have got no divine right to do so.'

Tony Pulis frustrated by Charlie Adam"s start to life at Stoke

Stoke boss Pulis left frustrated by new boy Adam's start to Britannia career

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UPDATED:

12:42 GMT, 12 September 2012

Tony Pulis has spoken of his frustration at the way life at Stoke has begun for Charlie Adam.

Midfielder Adam joined the Staffordshire outfit from Liverpool on transfer deadline day and made his debut 24 hours later as a substitute in their 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw at Wigan.

The 26-year-old put in a performance which was encouraging, particularly given he had not yet had a chance to train with his new team-mates.

Up for the battle: Adam has been away on international duty for Scotland

Up for the battle: Adam has been away on international duty for Scotland

Adam went on international duty with Scotland straight after the Wigan game and has since played in World Cup qualifiers against Serbia on Saturday and Macedonia on Tuesday night, meaning he has still to take part in a training session with his new club mates.

Stoke boss Pulis said: 'He only watched
us in training the day before the Wigan match and then he was off to
play for Scotland straight after.

On the move: Adam joined Stoke from Liverpool

On the move: Adam joined Stoke from Liverpool

'So he hasn't even worked with us yet and that is really, really frustrating with him being a new signing.

'I know these players are top professionals who can quickly adapt, but they are also playing against top professionals, so you want time with them on the training pitch to prepare.

'Hopefully, Charlie will come back to us fit and healthy on Thursday after his international commitments.'

Pulis was also less than pleased to see the Republic of Ireland playing a friendly yesterday against Oman, with Stoke defender Marc Wilson among those who featured.

'These games are just there to make money for the football associations involved,' said Pulis, quoted in The Sentinel.

'Marc Wilson is away with Ireland, and as his club manager you are just keeping your fingers crossed he comes back in one piece from a meaningless friendly.'

Michael Owen could make Stoke debut against Manchester City

Owen in line for debut against champions City after sealing one-year Stoke deal

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UPDATED:

12:05 GMT, 6 September 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Michael Owen is hoping to make his debut for Stoke next weekend when they take on champions Manchester City.

The former England international, who was released by Man United earlier this summer, joined the Potters on a one-year deal after the Premier League announced they had cleared his registration.

Owen trained with his new Stoke team-mates for the first time on Thursday and will now look to take a claim for the visit of Roberto Mancini's men on September 15 following the international break.

Done deal: Michael Owen poses with his new Stoke City shirt after joining the club on a one-year deal

Done deal: Michael Owen poses with his new Stoke City shirt after joining the club on a one-year deal

But mystery still surrounds the events that led to Owen eventually being included in Stoke’s 25-man squad for the campaign.

The Premier League said on Monday
evening the club had reached their full complement of 25 senior players
ahead of the squads released later that night.

Stoke’s
list did not include the 32-year-old forward. His place is thought to
have originally been taken by out-of-favour midfielder Michael Tonge.

However, Owen received the green
light to resume his career after the competition’s board allowed him to
take his place in the club’s squad.

The paperwork accompanying his move
arrived at the League with only two minutes to spare on Monday afternoon
as manager Tony Pulis captured his long-time summer target.

A brief statement read: ‘The Premier
League board has confirmed to Stoke City the registration of Michael
Owen. Consequently, he will be involved in their 25-man playing squad.’

Owen’s late decision to commit
himself to the Staffordshire club caused confusion and, according to the
original stance of the Premier League, would have resulted in a board
meeting to discuss whether the former Real Madrid striker could replace
Tonge.

However, the problem was classified
as ‘crossed wires’ by a Premier League spokesman who insisted Owen’s
name was, indeed, included in the original list submitted moments before
the deadline — despite initial statements to the contrary.

Tonge was not in Stoke’s final list
of players, and is expected to join a Championship club when the loan
window opens on Saturday. The former Liverpool forward greeted the news
by tweeting: ‘It’s official — deal done. I’m a Stoke player — can’t wait
to get going.’

Up and running: Owen is put through his paces as he looks to play catch up after not featuring in any pre-season action

Up and running: Owen is put through his paces as he looks to play catch up after not featuring in any pre-season action

Down to work: Owen trains with his new club Stoke for the first time on Thursday

Down to work: Owen trains with his new club Stoke for the first time on Thursday

Tools of the trade: Owen arrives at Stoke's training ground clutching his new boots

Tools of the trade: Owen arrives at Stoke's training ground clutching his new boots

It was a satisfactory conclusion too
for Pulis who said: ‘It’s a great signing for Stoke City. Obviously, we
have got to get him on the pitch. We have to get him fit. That’s the
important thing.

'I think Michael has the bit between his teeth. When
Manchester United announced they were going to release him, I rang him
up and went and spoke to him. He came over as a very honourable lad and I
thought, “Good kid.” Everyone speaks highly of him and he just seems to
want to play football.

‘He was actually available for a lot
of Manchester United matches last season but wasn’t selected. People
say he only played so many games. He was available for a lot more. And
we think he’s the perfect role model.

‘He’s more than just an impact sub. We want him in the team and playing.’

Owen, meanwhile, is looking forward
to a new chapter in his career and is looking for a promising future at
the Britannia Stadium.

'I’m delighted to have signed for Stoke City,' he said.

'We
have been in talks for a while and it was a club I was always keen to
join. I’m particularly excited at the prospect of working under Tony
Pulis; he has assembled a great squad that I look forward to joining.

'I’m
now looking forward to contributing as much as possible to the Club and
can’t wait to play in front of a great set of supporters.'

MICHAEL OWEN FACTFILE

1996: Signs professional terms with Liverpool on 17th birthday after previously joining them as a schoolboy.

1997: May 6 – Scores on his first-team debut against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park.

1998: Finishes season joint-top scorer in the Premier League with 18 goals.

May 31 – Named in England's World Cup squad of 22.

June 22 – Scores after coming on as substitute against Romania but England lose 2-1.

June 30 – Scores a sensational goal against Argentina before England bow out of France 98 on penalties.

2001: May – Scores twice in the last seven minutes as Liverpool come back to beat Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium.
Plays, but does not score, as Liverpool complete a cup treble when they beat Alaves 5-4 after extra-time to win the UEFA Cup.

September 1 – A hat-trick helps England to an historic 5-1 win over Germany in the World Cup qualifier in Munich.

December 17 – Named European Footballer of the Year.

2003: April 26 – Scores his 100th Premier League goal, the second of four in a 6-0 rout of West Brom.

2004: August 12 – Sources close to Real Madrid reveal the Spanish club have agreed to give Liverpool 38million and Antonio Nunez for the services of Owen.

August 13 – Passes medical with the Spanish giants.

Michael Owen

2005: May 23 – After scoring 16 goals in his debut season in Spain, states his intention to stay with Real Madrid despite reported interest from Newcastle.

August 30 – Signs four-year deal with Newcastle, sealing 17million permanent transfer.

December 31 – Breaks metatarsal bone in defeat at Tottenham and is ruled out for 'several months'.

2006: March 24 – Newcastle announce Owen requires surgery to tighten the screw inserted into his foot during the initial operation.

June 20 – Regains fitness to take his place at the World Cup but injures his knee in first minute of group game against Sweden in Cologne and is immediately replaced. Ruled out for at least nine months.

2009: May – Finishes the season with 10 goals as Newcastle are relegated from the Premier League on the final day.

June 22 – Confirms that he will not be renewing his contract with Newcastle.

July 1 – Becomes a free agent after his Newcastle contract runs out.

July 3 – Reports link Owen with free transfer to Manchester United and he later signs a two-year contract with the champions after passing medical tests.

August – Makes United league debut as a substitute against Birmingham, scoring a first competitive goal against Wigan six days later.

September 22 – Claims a dramatic winner in the sixth minute of injury time to seal a 4-3 win over local rivals Manchester City.

2011: May – Makes enough league appearances to claim a title winner's medal but is an unused substitute in United's Champions League Final defeat to Barcelona at Wembley.

November 2 – Substituted early in Champions League group stage match against Otelul Galati and misses the rest of the season.

2012: May 17 – Reveals on Twitter that Manchester United would not be offering him a new deal after three years with the club.

September 4 – Now a free agent, signs for Stoke on a one-year contract in a deal subject to Premier League Board approval.

Michael Owen to play for Stoke

Confusion reigns but Owen free to play for Stoke after Premier League ratify last-minute switch

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UPDATED:

21:49 GMT, 5 September 2012

Done deal: Owen leaves Stoke's training ground after agreeing a one-year contract

Done deal: Owen leaves Stoke's training ground after agreeing a one-year contract

Michael Owen will play for Stoke City this season after the Premier League announced they had cleared his registration.

But mystery still surrounds the events that led to Owen eventually being included in Stoke’s 25-man squad for the campaign.

The Premier League said on Monday evening the club had reached their full complement of 25 senior players ahead of the squads released later that night.

Stoke’s list did not include the 32-year-old forward. His place is thought to have originally been taken by out-of-favour midfielder Michael Tonge.

Ready and waiting: Owen tweeted a picture of his boots lying idle on Monday

Ready and waiting: Owen tweeted a picture of his boots lying idle on Monday

However, Owen received the green
light to resume his career after the competition’s board allowed him to
take his place in the club’s squad.

The paperwork accompanying his move
arrived at the League with only two minutes to spare on Monday afternoon
as manager Tony Pulis captured his long-time summer target.

A brief statement read: ‘The Premier
League board has confirmed to Stoke City the registration of Michael
Owen. Consequently, he will be involved in their 25-man playing squad.’

Owen’s late decision to commit
himself to the Staffordshire club caused confusion and, according to the
original stance of the Premier League, would have resulted in a board
meeting to discuss whether the former Real Madrid striker could replace
Tonge.

Glimpses: Owen was rarely able to shine for United though injury and bad form

Glimpses: Owen was rarely able to shine for United though injury and bad form

However, the problem was classified
as ‘crossed wires’ by a Premier League spokesman who insisted Owen’s
name was, indeed, included in the original list submitted moments before
the deadline — despite initial statements to the contrary.

Tonge was not in Stoke’s final list
of players, and is expected to join a Championship club when the loan
window opens on Saturday. The former Liverpool forward greeted the news
by tweeting: ‘It’s official — deal done. I’m a Stoke player — can’t wait
to get going.’

It was a satisfactory conclusion too
for Pulis who said: ‘It’s a great signing for Stoke City. Obviously, we
have got to get him on the pitch. We have to get him fit. That’s the
important thing. I think Michael has the bit between his teeth. When
Manchester United announced they were going to release him, I rang him
up and went and spoke to him. He came over as a very honourable lad and I
thought, “Good kid.” Everyone speaks highly of him and he just seems to
want to play football.

‘He was actually available for a lot
of Manchester United matches last season but wasn’t selected. People
say he only played so many games. He was available for a lot more. And
we think he’s the perfect role model.

‘He’s more than just an impact sub. We want him in the team and playing.’

MICHAEL OWEN FACTFILE

1996: Signs professional terms with Liverpool on 17th birthday after previously joining them as a schoolboy.

1997: May 6 – Scores on his first-team debut against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park.

1998: Finishes season joint-top scorer in the Premier League with 18 goals.

May 31 – Named in England's World Cup squad of 22.

June 22 – Scores after coming on as substitute against Romania but England lose 2-1.

June 30 – Scores a sensational goal against Argentina before England bow out of France 98 on penalties.

2001: May – Scores twice in the last seven minutes as Liverpool come back to beat Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium.
Plays, but does not score, as Liverpool complete a cup treble when they beat Alaves 5-4 after extra-time to win the UEFA Cup.

September 1 – A hat-trick helps England to an historic 5-1 win over Germany in the World Cup qualifier in Munich.

December 17 – Named European Footballer of the Year.

2003: April 26 – Scores his 100th Premier League goal, the second of four in a 6-0 rout of West Brom.

2004: August 12 – Sources close to Real Madrid reveal the Spanish club have agreed to give Liverpool 38million and Antonio Nunez for the services of Owen.

August 13 – Passes medical with the Spanish giants.

Michael Owen

2005: May 23 – After scoring 16 goals in his debut season in Spain, states his intention to stay with Real Madrid despite reported interest from Newcastle.

August 30 – Signs four-year deal with Newcastle, sealing 17million permanent transfer.

December 31 – Breaks metatarsal bone in defeat at Tottenham and is ruled out for 'several months'.

2006: March 24 – Newcastle announce Owen requires surgery to tighten the screw inserted into his foot during the initial operation.

June 20 – Regains fitness to take his place at the World Cup but injures his knee in first minute of group game against Sweden in Cologne and is immediately replaced. Ruled out for at least nine months.

2009: May – Finishes the season with 10 goals as Newcastle are relegated from the Premier League on the final day.

June 22 – Confirms that he will not be renewing his contract with Newcastle.

July 1 – Becomes a free agent after his Newcastle contract runs out.

July 3 – Reports link Owen with free transfer to Manchester United and he later signs a two-year contract with the champions after passing medical tests.

August – Makes United league debut as a substitute against Birmingham, scoring a first competitive goal against Wigan six days later.

September 22 – Claims a dramatic winner in the sixth minute of injury time to seal a 4-3 win over local rivals Manchester City.

2011: May – Makes enough league appearances to claim a title winner's medal but is an unused substitute in United's Champions League Final defeat to Barcelona at Wembley.

November 2 – Substituted early in Champions League group stage match against Otelul Galati and misses the rest of the season.

2012: May 17 – Reveals on Twitter that Manchester United would not be offering him a new deal after three years with the club.

September 4 – Now a free agent, signs for Stoke on a one-year contract in a deal subject to Premier League Board approval.

Luke McCormick won"t sign for Swindon

Swindon decline chance to sign drink-drive keeper McCormick

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UPDATED:

11:23 GMT, 23 August 2012

Luke McCormick, who was imprisoned in 2008 for killing two young boys in a car crash while drink-driving, will not be signing for Swindon.

The 29-year-old goalkeeper had been training with the npower League One club after his release from Leyhill Prison earlier this year.

He was sentenced to seven years and four months in 2008 after Arron Peak, 10, and his brother Ben, aged eight, died when the vehicle they were travelling in was hit by McCormick's Range Rover on the M6 in Staffordshire in June of that year. McCormick was twice the drink-driving limit.

Banged up: Luke McCormick was jailed after killing two young boys

Banged up: Luke McCormick was jailed after killing two young boys

Football League blog

Swindon interim chairman Jeremy Wray said in May he would resign if the decision to allow McCormick to train with his club damaged its reputation.

Swindon released a statement on their official website which read: 'After careful and considered thought Luke McCormick has decided to pursue footballing opportunities away from Swindon Town FC but remains eternally grateful for the support and friendship that the club has extended towards him in recent times.

'Following his release from prison, Swindon Town offered him the opportunity to train at the club as part of his rehabilitation. The club made it clear from the outset that a full time professional contract would not be on offer for some considerable time, if at all.'

The statement from Swindon continued: 'Now that the league season has got under way and with (manager) Paolo Di Canio wishing to focus all of his attention on his first team squad, the opportunities for Luke to continue training would be restricted to the youth and development squad.

'Having considered this as an option, along with embarking upon his community project, McCormick took the decision to explore other possible options and the club wishes him well with this endeavour.'

McCormick added: 'I shall be forever grateful to Swindon Town FC for holding out a hand of friendship and offering me an early opportunity to re-integrate into society, following my release from prison.

Back in the day: McCormick played for Plymouth before the crash

Back in the day: McCormick played for Plymouth before the crash

'My time at Swindon Town was an important stepping stone on the journey and I would now like to move forward in an attempt to re-establish a career in football, in addition to working within the community, alerting people as to the stupidity and dangers of drinking and driving.'

McCormick was with Plymouth when the accident occurred over four years ago, and had been returning from former team-mate David Norris' wedding in Bolton.

Arron and Ben Peak were travelling to Silverstone racetrack for a dream day out with their father Phil and three friends when their Toyota Previa people carrier was hit by McCormick's vehicle at 5.44am on June 7.

The goalkeeper had been seen drinking beer and downing shots of Sambuca at the wedding reception.

Stoke Crown Court, where McCormick admitted causing death by dangerous driving and drink-driving, was told police investigators estimated his Range Rover was travelling at around 97mph moments before the crash.

Mr Peak, from Partington in Manchester, was at the wheel of the Toyota and suffered serious injuries that left him in a wheelchair.

Plymouth terminated McCormick's contract by mutual consent after he was charged.

The club said the decision was purely a footballing one because of the quality of goalkeepers already at their disposal.

No deal: Swindon boss Paulo Di Canio

No deal: Swindon boss Paulo Di Canio

McCormick's agent Clive Hart, who has represented the player since he was 17, said Swindon had been impressed by his performance during the trial.

Hart said in a statement: 'Following Luke McCormick's excellent training period with Swindon Town he is now ready to look for a playing opportunity.

'Luke is only 29 and in excellent shape, he was one of the best goalkeepers in the Championship prior to his imprisonment in 2008.

'Employment plays a key role in an offender's rehabilitation and Luke hopes he can find himself work in the football industry to continue the work done at Swindon Town and help build a positive future for his young family.

'Luke is also committed to continued involvement with community work and organisations dealing with the dangers of drink-driving.'

Hart's understanding was that there were no restrictions on McCormick moving to any club within the UK under the terms of his probation.

Swindon interim chairman Wray had offered to resign if the decision to allow McCormick to train with the club affected its standing.

He told BBC Wiltshire in May: 'I'm not going to jeopardise the club's position on this.

'I'm not going to allow the reputation of the club, that we've worked so hard to build up, to be hurt by this.

'In terms of a principle, I absolutely would resign.'

London 2012 Olympic rowing: Great Britain win Gold in men"s four

Golden touch: Britain retain Olympic title in men's four after smashing the Aussies

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UPDATED:

10:56 GMT, 4 August 2012

Great Britain produced a sensational performance to beat Australia and win Olympic gold in the men's coxless fours.

Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, Tom James and Alex Gregory led from the start to extend Britain's dominance over the Olympic event to 16 years.

Britain won their fourth successive coxless fours title by a quarter of a length from the Australians with the United States winning the bronze medal.

More to follow…

Golden touch: Great Britain's Men's Four of Andrew Triggs Hodge, Tom James, Pete Reed and Alex Gregory won the men's four final

Golden touch: Great Britain's Men's Four of Andrew Triggs Hodge, Tom James, Pete Reed and Alex Gregory won the men's four final

MEN'S FOUR FACTFILE

1979: Andrew Triggs Hodge born on March 9 in Aylesbury. Will go on to start rowing at Staffordshire University.

1981: Pete Reed born July 1981 in Seattle, United States. A Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Reed will later take up rowing at the University of the West of England.

1984: Alex Gregory and Tom James both born on March 11. James will learn to row at Evesham while Gregory will take up the sport through the GB Rowing Start scheme.

2003: James makes his Great Britain debut in the eight, stroking the boat to bronze at the World Championships.

2005: Hodge and Reed win the Boat Race with Oxford and are part of the British four that wins gold at the World Championships.

2006: Hodge and Reed are part of the men's four that wins gold at the World Championships at Eton Dorney.

2007: James competes in his fourth Boat Race for Cambridge, tasting victory for the first time.

2008: Hodge, Reed and James beat Australia to win Olympic gold with a stunning late charge for the line.

2009: Hodge and Reed move into the pair and win silver at the World Championships. Gregory switches to sweep rowing and wins gold in the men's four.

2010: Hodge and Reed win silver at the World Championships, finishing just three tenths of a second behind New Zealand. Gregory is in the men's four crew that finishes a disappointing fourth.

2011: James returns to the GB squad and joins Gregory in the men's four that wins gold at the World Championships. Hodge and Reed again have to settle for silver behind the Kiwis.

2012: May – Hodge and Reed move back into the four alongside Gregory and James, winning World Cup gold at Belgrade and Lucerne.

June – The British four are beaten twice by Australia in the final World Cup regatta in Munich, taking silver.

August 4 – Britain win gold at the Olympic Games.