Tag Archives: stepping

Harry Redknapp tells Yann M"Vila to use QPR as stepping stone to Manchester United

Use QPR as stepping stone to Manchester United! How Harry convinced M'Vila to join Hoops

squad but he is serving a two-year ban from international duty after he and four other players in the Under 21 squad went on an unauthorised night out in November.

Redknapp said: 'He is a top, proper footballer. He can play. He controls the game, he can pass the ball, he is strong.

'He's had a few problems off the field but he is only young. If he behaves himself and comes and plays for us as he is able to then he will be a great asset.'

Sports Personality of the Year: Nominees name winner

We'd crown Wiggo! The British heroes of 2012 pick their winner for SPOTY



23:04 GMT, 26 November 2012

If it was simply down to the 12 nominees, Bradley Wiggins would win the most eagerly anticipated BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in its 59-year history.

If it was just down to Mo Farah, however, he would walk off with the prize himself.

The list of nominees was released on Monday, and Wiggins was selected by five of them — Jessica Ennis, Sir Chris Hoy, Ben Ainslie, Sarah Storey and David Weir — as the person they would most like to see win the award.

Nicola Adams

NICOLA ADAMS: ‘I would love to see a woman win, so it would be great for Jessica Ennis to be recognised.’

Mo Farah

MO FARAH: ‘I want to win it myself.’

Jessica Ennis

JESSICA ENNIS: ‘I’d love to see Mo Farah because he’s a good friend, but there are the Paralympians too. If you’re really pushing me, I’d have to say Bradley Wiggins because of the Tour de France and the Olympic gold — but only just!’

Rory McIlroy

RORY MCILROY: ‘I’m a big tennis fan so I would like to see Andy Murray win. Andy winning gold at the Olympics was huge, and that was a stepping stone to what he achieved in the US Open. A monkey off his back, a great player and hopefully the first of many Grand Slam titles for him.’

The field for the 2012 award has been extended in recognition of an incredible year of sport. The shortlist was chosen by a panel of respected figures across the world of sport, including Sportsmail’s Head of Sport, Lee Clayton.

The nominees were asked the question, ‘Who would be your Sports Personality winner’ during interviews for this week’s Radio Times.

Wiggins is the bookies’ favourite, ahead of Farah. The middle- distance runner and Ennis trailed Wiggins, with two votes each from among their peers.

Ben Ainslie

BEN AINSLIE: ‘It’s a very tough call, but I would say Bradley Wiggins deserves it most. Before now he’s almost been hidden in the shadows a bit behind Chris Hoy. But this was really his year.’

Katherine Grainger

KATHERINE GRAINGER: ‘This year was all about girl power. Jessica Ennis would be a worthy winner. She’s an all-round athlete at her peak and well deserving of the honour.’

Chris Hoy

SIR CHRIS HOY: ‘It should be Bradley Wiggins, but I say that cringing, because then I think about Andy Murray, then about Katherine Grainger…’

Andy Murray

ANDY MURRAY: ‘It’s been an amazing year for British sport and it’s tough to pick a winner. I hope it will be a celebration of the year as a whole and of what we, as a nation, have achieved.’

Golfer Rory McIlroy is the only person shortlisted not to win an Olympic or Paralympic gold medal.

Andy Murray, who is third favourite, made the list after he followed his Olympic gold by becoming the first British male tennis player to win a Grand Slam in 76 years.

After last year’s furore, when not a single sportswoman made the shortlist, five of the 12 this year are female. It is an issue Ennis feels is particularly important.

She said: ‘I’ve had loads of letters from young girls and that’s a really positive thing. They are interested in athletics after watching the Olympic Games. Further down the line we will see what a big impact 2012 had on women’s sport.’

Ellie Simmonds

ELLIE SIMMONDS: ‘I would pick Mo Farah, for his sheer determination and fantastic achievement of pulling off the double gold.’

David Weir

DAVID WEIR: ‘I’d love to see Bradley Wiggins win, but it would be great if someone from the Paralympics was recognised — Ellie Simmonds or myself.’

Sarah Storey

SARAH STOREY: ‘For me, the vote should be behind Bradley Wiggins. To see him win the Tour de France and Olympic double before we started competing inspired us. Just being on the list with him is an honour.’

Bradley Wiggins

BRADLEY WIGGINS: The favourite among his peers didn’t pick a winner, but he did take the chance to have a pop at Lance Armstrong. He said: ‘Lance Armstrong Well, look what’s happened to him. As it stands, I’ve won more Tours than him!’

The Final Count

BBC director of sport Barbara Slater
chaired the selection panel and said: ‘It was difficult to leave off
Olympians and Paralympians of the calibre of Charlotte Dujardin,
Alistair Brownlee, Jade Jones, Sophie Christiansen, Laura Trott, Jonnie
Peacock, Jason Kenny and Victoria Pendleton, to name just a few

‘The panel also reflected long and
hard on the heroics of stars from other sports such as (golfer) Ian
Poulter during the “Miracle of Medinah”, the brilliance of (boxer) Carl
Froch and the “magnificent seven” from champion jockey Richard Hughes.’

The winner will be chosen by a public vote during the ceremony at London’s ExCeL Arena on December 16.

Carl Froch Kos Yusuf Mack in third round in Nottingham to retain IBF super-middleweight title

Froch destroys Mack with third round KO to retain IBF super-middleweight title



01:28 GMT, 18 November 2012

Carl Froch, British boxing’s standard bearer, furthered his quest to be rated in the top five pound-for-pound boxers in the world by defending his IBF super-middleweight title in devastating style.

Froch knocked out the American Yusaf Mack after two minutes and 30 seconds of the third round at the Capital FM Arena in his home city of Nottingham before 10,000 raucous, adoring supporters. It was a vicious brace of left-handed punches to body and head that had Mack gasping for breath and beaten.

Froch was clearly raring to go — riled by Mack’s pre-fight description of him as a ‘fake Joe Calzaghe’ — and had the Pennsylvanian on the canvas in the first round with a flurry of punishing punches. Home hopes of a finish there and then were dashed, if not for long.

Milking the crowd: Carl Froch was in top form against Yusaf Mack

Milking the crowd: Carl Froch was in top form against Yusaf Mack

Sealed with a kiss: Froch and girlfriend Rachael Cordingley celebrate victory

Sealed with a kiss: Froch and girlfriend Rachael Cordingley celebrate victory

Having grown up on the mean streets
of Philadelphia Mack — who has nine children at the age of 32 —has
survived plenty of violence, including the death of a brother and a
group of friends in a gangland killing.

This was more about technique,
however. Mack was stepping down a weight from his favoured light-heavy
but stepping up in class and it showed as he was painfully outboxed.

He survived round two through sheer
cussedness but in the third was hit by a vicious shot to the ribs from
Froch, who followed it up with a left to the head that produced a
delayed reaction in Mack. He fell in installments, never to beat the
count of 10.

Froch said: ‘As soon as the doors
opened to the arena and the crowd erupted, I was ready to go.’ He had
barely broken sweat. ‘The crowd in Nottingham is unbelievable. I was a
bit cautious at first but I soon found my range. There’s always a chance
in a two-horse race but Mack never had much chance. I am a level up.’

Brutal: A Froch attack leaves Mack on the ropes

Brutal: A Froch attack leaves Mack on the ropes

Calling it a day: The referee ends proceedings in Nottingham with Mack prostrate

Calling it a day: Referee Phil Edwards ends proceedings in Nottingham with Mack on the canvas

It was the 35-year-old Froch’s 30th
win of his 32-fight career and he will now honour an obligation for a
rematch with Canada-based Romanian Lucian Bute in Montreal. Froch
regained his title by beating Bute here in May and defending it away
from home before 20,000 Canadians will be tough.
Froch, though, is in the form and shape of his life and is on a mission.

After Bute, he wants to fight the only two men to have beaten him — Dane Mikkel Kessler and American Andre Ward.

Froch’s promoter Eddie Hearn will
seek to lure Kessler to Nottingham Forest’s City Ground with the offer
of a pay-per-view night, before promising Ward another big pay day.

So fearless a warrior is Froch,
indeed, that he would even be willing to go to America to fight Ward,
who is rated one of the world’s top-five fighters.

On top: Froch put Mack on the deck several times

On top: Froch put Mack on the deck several times

Smelling blood: Froch was relentless

Smelling blood: Froch was relentless

Earlier, classy Liverpool
light-heavyweight Tony Bellew overcame a wicked cut above his right eye
to outpoint Argentinian Roberto Bolonti, whom he twice dropped to the

Bellew, who lost to new WBO champion Nathan Cleverly last year, will now have strong claims to a lucrative rematch.

Another Liverpudlian, Callum Smith,
recorded a win on his professional debut. Smith looked convincing enough
in brushing aside Dan Blackwell of Trowbridge at super-middleweight.
Maybe there is a successor to Froch at the weight some way down the

Sheffield’s Kell Brook will fight
American Devon Alexander for the IBF Welterweight title in Las Vegas or
New York on January 19.

Show of power: Froch attacks once more

Show of power: Froch attacks once more

Home support: Froch was cheered on by a partisan crowd

Home support: Froch was cheered on by a partisan crowd

Tony Bellew fights through the blood to step closer to world shot

Bellew fights through the blood to step closer to world shot



23:09 GMT, 17 November 2012

Tony Bellew survived a nasty cut to
jump a step closer to a world title shot with a unanimous decision win
over Argentina's Roberto Bolonti in Nottingham.

The fiery Liverpudlian was seeking
to build on his recent win over Edison Miranda as he looks to earn a
second bid for world honours.

Bellew had shown his world title
credentials in a premature and unsuccessful shot at Nathan Cleverly's
WBO light-heavyweight title last year and has been rebuilding towards
another crack since then.

Stepping stone: Tony Bellew celebrates his victory over Roberto Bolonti

Stepping stone: Tony Bellew celebrates his victory over Roberto Bolonti

He continued that progress at the Capital FM Arena with a solid win over Bolonti despite suffering a nasty third-round cut above the right eye which had initially looked potentially catastrophic to his hopes.

Tonight's scrap with Bolonti was essentially an eliminator of sorts for the WBC crown, with the body's inconsequential 'silver' belt on the line.

Evertonian Bellew, 29, had a record of 18-1 (12KO wins) heading into the bout while 33-year-old Bolonti (30-1, 19KO wins) was boxing outside Argentina for the first time.

Bellew provided the early pressure and landed a left which wobbled Bolonti mid-round.

Through the gate: Tony Bellew throws a punch

Through the gate: Tony Bellew throws a punch

A right to the top of the head then put Bolonti down, though the South American may have lost his footing.

He beat Victor Loughlin's count and survived the round as Bellew failed to capitalise, despite landing a big right.

The second round was all Bellew until a cheeky right from Bolonti gave him food for thought.

A left hook put Bolonti down in the third but again he rose quickly with a clear head.

He was certainly more wary as a result but things threatened to turn when Bellew suffered a bad cut over the right eye, thought to be from a Bolonti left hook.

Down and out: Tony Bellew knocks Roberto Bolonti down

Down and out: Tony Bellew knocks Roberto Bolonti down

The wound was far from superficial as blood flowed into the Englishman's right eye but Bellew at least had Mick Williamson, a renowned cutsman, in his corner.

A left hook to the body by Bellew punctuated a quieter fifth round with the Briton remaining patient safe in the knowledge Williamson had worked his magic on the cut.

Bellew landed a left uppercut in the ninth which was the best shot of the middle rounds while a left hook to the mid-section was correctly adjudged to have been too low.

A right uppercut seemed to hurt Bolonti and Bellew piled in, landing combinations for the first time in several rounds.

Tough test: Roberto Bolonti gets a shot in against Tony Bellew

Tough test: Roberto Bolonti gets a shot in against Tony Bellew

While the pace was slow and the action fractured, Bellew was winning the rounds with relative ease.

Another uppercut in the 10th led to another aggressive flurry but again Bolonti held it together.

At the final bell the fighters embraced, with both men claiming to have won. But the victory was clearly Bellew's, with scores of 120-106, 119-107 and 120-106.

Kell Brook prepares to face Carson Jones

I can be a superstar! Brook targets world domination after taking care of Jones



15:01 GMT, 6 July 2012

Kell Brook believes he is on the verge of becoming British boxing's next superstar as he edges towards world title glory.

The unbeaten Sheffield welterweight has seen his profile soar in the last year as his slick and powerful fighting style has captured the public's imagination.

The 26-year-old is biding his time for a title shot as he works his way into a mandatory challenger position and he can move a step closer with victory over dangerous American Carson Jones at Sheffield's Motorpoint Arena on Saturday night.

Looking sharp: Kell Brook during the weigh in at the Winter Garden

Looking sharp: Kell Brook during the weigh in at the Winter Garden

The two meet in an eliminator for the IBF title with the winner moving to within one final step of a crack at the belt. Brook knows an impressive win against Oklahoma native Jones will give his reputation across the Atlantic a real boost too.

'The Americans are starting to hear about me now and so I want to be making a statement in this fight and taking care of Carson in style,' he said.

'They are talking about me along with their elite fighters over there and saying “this English kid, he's a force to be reckoned with”.

'It's looking like I could be British boxing's next superstar. Sky love me and it's all there for me.

Fighting fit: Carson Jones looks ready to go during the weigh in

Fighting fit: Carson Jones looks ready to go during the weigh in

'It's up to me to get that title and do Britain proud, to go over there to other people's backyards and really take them by storm.'

Jones is perceived in Britain as another stepping stone towards Brook's world title shot but the heavy-handed Oklahoma man is ranked higher by the IBF and has just as much reason for optimism.

Whereas Brook has won all of his 27 fights, Jones' record is far from unblemished.

The American suffered eight defeats earlier in his career but after coming up the hard way, has won his last eight by stoppage.

And while Brook dislikes the 25-year-old, he respects his fistic achievements.

'This is a chance to earn even more recognition by beating a guy who is well respected even if he isn't well known over here,' he said.

'He's been sparring with top fighters, he's had the training, he's turned his career around.

'He's above me in the ratings and we know he is probably going to be my toughest fight to date.'

Head on: Brook and Jones square up after the weigh in

Head on: Brook and Jones square up after the weigh in

Brook is fifth in the IBF ratings while Jones is third. The winner at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday will then square off with number four Hector Saldivia for the right to challenge for the title, recently won by Randall Bailey.

Jones insists his defeats will actually prove to be the making of him in the long run.

He said: 'I've come through the hard way and I know the ins and outs and what it takes. I know I'm getting in his head and I think that has something to do with his maturity levels.

Fighting talk: Brook and Jones trash talk ahead of the bout in Sheffield

Fighting talk: Brook and Jones trash talk ahead of the bout in Sheffield

'I'm a better fighter because of the hard times. You learn more from losses than you do from wins. He's been hand-fed all of his opponents while I've had to come through the hard way. As a result, I've learned a lot and am a better fighter and a better man for that.'

At the weigh-in at the Winter Garden in Sheffield, Brook came in at 10 stone 6 lbs 10 ounces while Jones registered 10st 6lb 6oz.

A stellar undercard sees Welsh success story Kerry Hope defend his European middleweight title against the man he won it from, Poland's Grzegorz Proksa, and countryman Gavin Rees puts his European lightweight belt on the line against Derry Mathews.

Former Olympian Kal Yafai makes his professional debut at bantamweight against Delroy Spencer.

VIDEO: It's going to be one Kell of a fight

Kell Brook vows to get nasty but highly-rated Carson Jones says he"s in for a monster mauling

Brook vows to get nasty but highly-rated Jones says he's in for a monster mauling


18:30 GMT, 15 May 2012



18:55 GMT, 15 May 2012

Kell Brook has branded his July 7 showdown with highly-ranked American Carson Jones as the last stepping stone to a long-awaited world title shot.

The unbeaten Sheffield welterweight has been on the verge of a challenge for global honours for over a year as he tries to make a final push to the front of the queue.

He is currently riding the crest of a wave having established himself as a box office star in his native Sheffield. After outclassing domestic rival Matthew Hatton earlier this year he now focuses on manoeuvring himself directly towards a world title opportunity, taking on a fighter ranked third with the IBF.

Brook, rated fifth by that body, then hopes to fight the winner of June's clash between Mike Jones and Randall Bailey for the vacant title.

Step up: Kell Brook faces up to Carson Jones in Sheffield

Step up: Kell Brook faces up to Carson Jones in Sheffield

The 26-year-old said: 'It's a big fight. Carson Jones is ranked higher than me and the winner basically goes on to fight for the world title against the winner of Bailey and Jones.

'I'm two fights away from being a world champion now. I've dreamed about this since I was nine years old and so this will be one of the biggest fights of my life.'

Brook came face-to-face with his opponent and said: 'He's said the things he's going to do and that he'll come to my city and do things to me.

'In my last fight I was a bit too nice with Matthew Hatton but in this one, you're going to see the nasty side of me and he's going to get taken out.

'This kid is going to get taken out in style. It's not going 12 rounds. It's going to live up to expectations and an amazing fight. Carson Jones, you need to train hard mate!'

At a lively press conference, Jones (34-8-2, 24KO wins) warned Brook not to overlook him.

Belts on the line: Brook and Jones

Belts on the line: Brook and Jones

'Thank you, Kell Brook, for making this huge mistake,' he said. 'A lot of your fans are saying a lot but when it comes down to it, you're the only person in the ring and the only person that can fight. Please, please, I'm asking – I'm begging you – please come straight forward and fight like you say you're going to do.

'Because you might be a beast, but I'm a monster. On July 7 I'll show you. I'm sure there are going to be 9,995 Kell Brook fans and about five Carson Jones fans but I'm still going to whoop his a** on the night.'

Brook (27-0, 18KOs) responded to Jones' taunts in kind.

'We're going to war, mate,' he promised. 'We'll stand in the middle of the ring and go toe-to-toe. No backward steps.'

Brook will be supported by two European title fights on the undercard at the Motorpoint Arena, while amateur star Kal Yafai makes his professional debut on the bill.

James McClean warned by Martin O"Neill

Think then speak, McClean warned after Sunderland winger's Catholic outburst



21:00 GMT, 11 May 2012

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has urged outspoken winger James McClean to choose his words carefully after he reignited the war of words over his Euro 2012 call-up and claimed Catholic footballers are uncomfortable playing for Northern Ireland.

McClean, 23, was named in Giovanni Trapattoni's Euro 2012 squad this week, just five months after breaking into the Sunderland team, and pledging his allegiance to the Republic of Ireland.

It provoked a furious backlash among some fans in the North on Twitter, and after he received death threats and sectarian abuse – and responded with one ill-advised sarcastic retort – McClean closed down his account.

Making his point: Sunderland's James McClean (centre) didn't hold back

Making his point: Sunderland's James McClean (centre) didn't hold back

But the former Derry City player enraged Northern Ireland fans further after suggesting that any Catholic 'would be lying' if they claimed to feel comfortable playing for the North at Windsor Park.

'It's probably the wrong thing to say but it was just a stepping stone in my career,' said McClean. 'You don't really feel at home. I think any Catholic would be lying if they said they did feel at home, seeing all those flags (Union Jacks) and hearing the songs and chants.

'For me, personally, I didn't feel part of it. I gave a piece – an article – not that long back and I was just describing how, as a Catholic in the squad, you don't feel part of the squad.'

International star: James McClean

International star: James McClean

O'Neill called McClean in after training on Friday morning to explain his comments. A Sunderland source said the manager was furious with the winger who is from the same part of Ireland.

He has been urged not to provoke further anger with any comments, particularly when he is with the Ireland squad later this month and for the finals, where they will be based in Poland.

The Sunderland boss said: 'I am delighted he has closed his twitter account. My own view is that those kind of things are pretty nonsensical. It's best it's closed. I'm happy with that.

'The north/south thing was less in my time. It now has become a major topic of conversation. James spoke with his family and made up his mind long before I was at the club. Good luck to him, that's his decision and he should be left alone.

'We have a few players on Twitter. I don't know whether I would want them to close them all down, but you have to be careful with what you say, especially if it is said in the dressing room.'

London 2012 Olympics: Water polo captain Fran Leighton relishing home support

London fans will give us a lift! Water polo captain Leighton relishing home rule



17:36 GMT, 24 April 2012

Great Britain water polo captain Fran Leighton expects her team to thrive in the partisan atmosphere of a home Olympic Games.

The team will get their first taste of the Water Polo Arena next week at the test event, where they will compete against Hungary, Australia and the United States, and sizeable crowds are expected.

For the Games themselves, the 5,000-capacity venue will be packed out as Britain's women compete at the Olympics for the first time, while there has not been a British men's team since the 1956 Games.

Home rule: The Water Polo Arena (bottom right) will be where Team GB hope to capture gold

Home rule: The Water Polo Arena (bottom right) will be where Team GB hope to capture gold

There will certainly be nerves but, after seeing how her team handled a big crowd at the European Championships in Holland in January, Leighton has no doubt they can use it to their advantage.

It was the first time Britain had qualified for the tournament since 1997, and they pushed Hungary, Russia and the hosts before beating Germany in their final game.

Leighton said: 'To enter the Europeans after 15 years was fantastic, and it was our stepping stone preparation for the Olympics. To finish seventh was brilliant, we played some really tough games.

'It was exciting to be in that environment, on the big stage. We loved the atmosphere. I think there were about 2,000 people so when we played the Dutch that was fab. Even though it wasn't for us, it was still a great place to play.

'We can't wait to bring that to London and hopefully all our fans and all the British people will get behind us.

'All the girls really embraced the occasion in Holland. We could have been a bit nervous about playing in a really big stadium but it was fantastic how we dealt with it and hopefully it'll be the same in London.'

Final preparations: The US team will be hoping to go one better than the silver they won in Beijing four years ago

Final preparations: The US team will be hoping to go one better than the silver they won in Beijing four years ago

The team will head down to London at the start of next week and will train in the pool before the competition begins next Thursday.

'We're all so excited about seeing the venue and going in the pool,” said Leighton.

'There's all the talk about it but when we set foot off the bus at the Olympic Park it'll start to feel like it is real. We've seen all the pictures and we just can't wait to play and hopefully compete well at the test event.'

Water polo is very much a minority sport in Britain but Leighton is confident it will prove a hit at the Games, which she hopes will help grow the player base in Britain.

The 30-year-old, who comes from a big water polo family, said: 'The crowd will see a really tough, fast-paced sport. I think people don't realise you can't stand up, you end up treading water for more than an hour.

'It's contact all the time. Whenever you've got the ball somebody can push you under the water. It's about having the face of an angel above the water and then what the referee can't see under the water, there's always grabbing and tugging.

'We hope everyone does enjoy it and they'll be ringing their local pool asking, “When can I play water polo”

'If we get an extra 100 people in the country playing water polo, then there's some legacy from it. And hopefully in Rio (venue for the 2016 Olympics) and in future Games British water polo will be there.'

The European Championships showed Britain could live with the very best and, with the likes of Holland and world champions Greece not qualifying for London, it is a very open field.

The hosts will not be among the favourites for a medal, but Leighton certainly does not believe that is beyond the realms of possibility.

She added: 'At the test event we find out the draw, and I think that will really decide where we can go. It's going to be a really strong, tough competition, but you never know. If we have the best two weeks of our life, anything's possible.'

SIX NATIONS 2012: Leigh Halfpenny: Wales looking beyond England to Grand Slam

England just a stepping stone on path to Grand Slam glory for Wales, roars Halfpenny

Wales will not be satisfied simply by beating England in the RBS 6 Nations on Saturday – as only winning a Grand Slam will do, insists full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

Warren Gatland's World Cup semi-finalists travel to Twickenham to face the new-look England having won two games out of two in this year's competition so far against Ireland and Scotland.

England, under interim head coach Stuart Lancaster, are also unbeaten following their first two games, following tight wins in Edinburgh and Rome.

Big week ahead: England's interim head coach Stuart Lancaster at Pennyhill Park on Monday

Big week ahead: England's interim head coach Stuart Lancaster at Pennyhill Park on Monday

But Halfpenny is looking beyond England and insists he and his Welsh team-mates are focused on becoming the best side in the game.

After the clash at Twickenham, Wales host Italy on March 10, before welcoming France to the Millennium Stadium a week later in what could turn out to be a Grand Slam decider.

All smiles: England centre Brad Barritt looked relaxed on Monday ahead of Saturday's big clash at Twickenham

All smiles: England centre Brad Barritt looked relaxed on Monday ahead of Saturday's big clash

'At the end of the day we want to be
the best,' said Halfpenny. 'That means winning every single game and
achieving the Grand Slam. That is the objective in this tournament –
nothing less.

'We are preparing for this tournament
as we did the World Cup, which was another tournament we set out to
win. We want to be the best, and we set high goals to bring the best out
of us.

'We train as hard as possible, and nothing less than our best will do. Everyone is ambitious, from the coaches to the players.

'Winning trophies is our goal, and we believe we can achieve that.'

England hooker Lee Mears could be out of contention for this weekend's game against Wales after suffering a bicep injury.

The Bath forward has not been able to make either of Lancaster's opening two matchday squads in the competition so far, and may be absent against the unbeaten Welsh.

Harlequins' Chris Brooker has been called up as cover, Lancaster revealed this afternoon.

'Lee Mears has got a bit of a bicep hematoma, as they have described it, at the moment,' England's interim head coach said. 'He has gone for a scan today so we will wait and see what happens.

'He has two bicep injuries before so we want to be careful.

'He is still at Bath. We have brought Chris Brooker in from Quins. He arrived this morning and will stay with us until tomorrow afternoon.'

Unbeaten: Warren Gatland's Wales have been in fine form so far during this year's Six Nations

Unbeaten: Warren Gatland's Wales have been in fine form so far during this year's Six Nations

On song: Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny (left) inspired the win over Scotland with two tries

On song: Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny (left) inspired the win over Scotland with two tries

Gloucester winger Charlie Sharples, who is also yet to feature in the Six Nations, is another doubt for Saturday's game after suffering a dead leg in training.

'Charlie has picked up a dead leg so he won't be training. He has stayed with us. He will probably head home tonight. He won't be fit to train tomorrow, but I am sure he will be fine for Gloucester at the weekend,' Lancaster added.

Carl Froch targets Lucian Bute showdown

Froch targets homecoming fight against Bute

Carl Froch has been made the mandatory challenger for Lucian Bute’s IBF super-middleweight title.

The former two-time WBC champion had
been linked with a ‘home and away’ clash with the Canadian after losing
his title to Andre Ward in December.

Carl Froch

Lucian Bute

Fight night: Froch has been made mandatory challenger for Bute

Froch, 34, now hopes to challenge Bute at the Nottingham Arena on May 5 before the return in Canada later in the year.

The Nottingham fighter had booked the venue for a homecoming bout, which had been expected to be a stepping stone to a world title fight.

But Froch’s promoter Eddie Hearn hopes to lure 31-year-old Bute to England.

‘I’m delighted that Carl has been installed as the mandatory for Lucien Bute’s next bout,’ said Hearn.

‘Positive discussions have been ongoing with Interbox since the Super Six final and we hope to get this fight made. It is Carl’s dream to have his next fight in the UK and that is something very important to both of us.

‘After recent discussions, I believe we can bring Lucian here in May and we will be happy to give him the rematch in Canada once Carl has taken the IBF title from him.’