Tag Archives: stones

Ronnie Wood at Barcelona v AC Milan

Rolling Stone axeman Wood spotted in the Nou Camp getting plenty of satisfaction

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

20:45 GMT, 12 March 2013

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UPDATED:

21:41 GMT, 12 March 2013

Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood knows plenty about hot tickets. But usually people are buying them for his shows.

On Tuesday it was Wood shelling out, as he treated his wife Sally to an evening of high quality football as Barcelona faced AC Milan in the Nou Camp.

Many claim the Stones are rock's greatest band and Wood found himself watching someone else at the top of his trade too, as Lionel Messi went on a rampage.

Excited: Ronnie Wood enjoying the action with his wife Sally... and with a cigarette (below)

Excited: Ronnie Wood enjoying the action with his wife Sally… and with a cigarette (below)

Smokin'

Ruby Tuesday: Ronnie Wood and his wife Sally were in the Nou Camp to see Barca take on Milan

The Barca star painted it black with two stunning first half strikes to rock Milan, who had come to Spain with a two-goal lead.

The first was some real hot stuff – the Argentina international finished exquisitely from outside the box.

Messi then shattered Milan's advantage with his second, sending Barcelona fans out of control.

Barcelona went on to win 4-0, thanks to additional strikes from David Villa and Jordi Alba, leaving Milan firmly under their thumb.

You got me rocking: Lionel Messi celebrates after turning the tie on its head

You got me rocking: Lionel Messi celebrates after turning the tie on its head

Andrew Flintoff showed heart if not technique – Mike Dickson

Mike Dickson: What Flintoff lacked in elegance he made up for with sheer heart

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UPDATED:

01:48 GMT, 1 December 2012

Andrew Flintoff never took a step back on the cricket field and, when it came down to a huge test of nerve and courage last night, he remained resolutely on the front foot to record the first win of his reality boxing career.

We knew he could fearlessly smite short balls from Brett Lee off the tip of his nose, that he could bully the world’s finest batsmen with barrages of short-pitched bowling, and now we know he can hold his own inside the ropes before a baying, breathless crowd.

What he lacked in elegance he made up for with sheer heart to surge forward continually and defeat an opponent two stones heavier, albeit one who lived down to expectations, on a 39-38 points decision to the delirious acclaim of the MEN Arena in Manchester.

Pure heart: Andrew Flintoff was unrefined but brave and persistent

Pure heart: Andrew Flintoff was unrefined but brave and persistent

Caught off balance by the otherwise hapless Richard Dawson in the second round, Flintoff was floored by a clipped left hook in a rare show of aggression from the American, who had all the mobility of a giant water butt.

But recovering from that was a typical show of character from the former England all-rounder, who must now decide if he wants to go through all this again. ‘I don’t know, but the feeling of being back in front of a crowd and winning was incredible,’ he said. ‘It’s been amazing, humbling in fact.

‘It wasn’t one for the purist but it was everything I had hoped for and more. It was like an out-of-body experience. It was similar to how I played cricket: a bit ragged but I wanted to leave everything in the ring.’

His relieved and delighted mentor Barry McGuigan added: ‘He forgot everything I taught him in the excitement of it all but he got the job done.’

A few of the Celebocracy in which Flintoff moves these days were among the 6,000 crowd, including comedians John Bishop and Jack Whitehall and a smattering of former Test colleagues such as Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison.

Made it through: Flintoff survived his first foray into the ring to win on points

Made it through: Flintoff survived his first foray into the ring to win on points

When Ricky Hatton had fought a week earlier, the 19,000 tickets had gone within a week, the appetite for an authentic comeback from a credible star of the sport obviously greater than the desire to see a much-loved cricketing hero take this strange and rather brutal voyage of self-discovery.

You could not fault Flintoff’s courage but it was hard for any outcome to glorify the image of the noble art. A quick knockout or stoppage would have been the farce that many in the game had feared and predicted. Lasting the course as he did, even in this bare minimum format of eight minutes, did not suggest that the skill levels required to turn professional are stratospheric.

Something you could not criticise Flintoff for was his dedication to this cause, the loss of more than three stone sculpting his body into a sharper form than the one which, even at the height of his playing days, always had something of a built-for-comfort look about it.

He clearly answered the demands of McGuigan with four months of the kind of discipline that might have elongated the main part of his sporting career had he employed it then.

Get back up: Flintoff stumbled but recovered to emerge victorious

Get back up: Flintoff stumbled but recovered to emerge victorious

The last time he shared a sporting arena with a Richard Dawson it was the spindly Yorkshire off-spinner, not the former gang member from small town Oklahoma who had forged a more traditional, redemptive path into the sport.

Dawson, 23, has the sort of moobs that Simon Cowell might blush at, but unlike the Lancastrian he had the benefit of several amateur fights before two at professional level, albeit against equally unknown opponents.

Flintoff entered the ring wearing a Lancashire Twenty20 shirt, but he will never have heard a cacophony like this.

Compared to the earlier fighters on the bill Dawson was less nimble than a mobile home and after a cagey beginning Flintoff had him rocking back on the ropes.

Crowd favourite: 'Freddie' connects with Dawson's head

Crowd favourite: 'Freddie' connects with Dawson's head

That was until the left hook that had the home favourite sprawling across the canvas, forced to take a count of eight. Our hero survived through to the end of it and into a third round which saw much grappling, pushing and shoving, and the odd jab from both men.

With chants of ‘Freddie! Freddie!’ ringing around the arena and Dawson being reminded about his copious flab, Flintoff surged forward in the fourth round and landed his best combinations of the bout.

The late flurries, while somewhat ungainly, were enough to guarantee him the points decision after eight minutes of a different sort of fame.

Dan Carter can rock England for New Zealand

Dan can Paint It Black: Stones fan Carter set to rock HQ and make it 10 on the trot for Kiwis

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UPDATED:

23:34 GMT, 27 November 2012

It says a lot for Dan Carter’s status in New Zealand that when the All
Black fly-half announced that his wife, Honor, is expecting their first
child, the country’s Prime Minister was quick to publicly pass on his
congratulations.

What John Key and all Kiwis recognise is that their record-breaking No
10 is a national treasure, not to mention the world’s all-time leading
points scorer and — by common consent — the finest fly-half in the
history of Test rugby.

The 30-year-old is revered in his homeland and respected around the
globe. He has been the poster-boy for the sport for several years,
having long since reluctantly acquired the mantle which once sat
uncomfortably on Jonny Wilkinson’s shoulders.

Respected: Dan Carter (centre) is a key player for New Zealand

Respected: Dan Carter (centre) is a key player for New Zealand

Stones fan: Carter went to watch the legendary rock band

Stones fan: Carter went to watch the legendary rock band

Carter is a figurehead for the game but when he is abroad, in countries
where rugby is not king, he is able to enjoy the rare delights of a
lower profile. He can blend into a crowd, which is exactly what he did
on Sunday. Just hours after arriving in London from Cardiff, he paid a
visit to the O2 Arena to watch The Rolling Stones. ‘It was awesome,’ he
said. ‘It was amazing. I was rocking out!’

Having relished the role of the excited fan, he is now in business mode,
which spells trouble for England. Carter missed the All Blacks’
victories over Italy and Wales while recovering from an injury to his
achilles-calf area, but expects to be fit for the tour finale,
Saturday’s QBE International at Twickenham.

Stuart Lancaster has enough on his plate without having to tackle the
omens which Carter will bring to HQ. Rewind to June 2003 and the
fresh-faced prospect from rural Canterbury was an unused replacement as
the England of Martin Johnson and Wilkinson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Phil
Vickery and all came to Wellington and beat the All Blacks en route to
World Cup glory.

Since then, since Carter has become a points machine,
it has been Kiwi dominance all the way in this fixture. Nine games, nine
New Zealand wins.

Pricey: Tickets to see Mick Jagger and Co cost top dollar

Pricey: Tickets to see Mick Jagger and Co cost top dollar

Surprise: Carter believes England should have kicked on after their 2003 triumph

Surprise: Carter believes England should have kicked on after their 2003 triumph

Dan Carter

‘I’m surprised England haven’t done more since 2003,’ said Carter.
‘They’ve shown the strength of their side only in patches since then.
Maybe consistency is what’s been lacking. They’ve got the players, so
talent’s not an issue.’

Recalling the night in Wellington when Sir Clive Woodward’s team
conquered his compatriots while he sat on the bench, Carter added: ‘It
was in 2003 that I got the All Black jersey for the first time, though
unfortunately I didn’t get on. England were in their prime and had a
successful year. We have real pride in not losing at home but they
taught us a lesson that night.’

Since then, his star has risen rapidly while England’s fortunes have
declined. Carter quickly asserted his credentials as a fly-half with the
full tool box — kicking precision and robust defence, mental fortitude
and vision, quick hands and nimble feet.

He reached the bar which had been set by Wilkinson and soared past it,
with the proof of his claim to be the world’s leading playmaker
delivered one night back in Wellington’s ‘Cake Tin’ in 2005, when he led
the Lions a merry dance in a complete display of the No 10 arts.

That, and so many other performances of the highest class, have helped
New Zealand regain their pre-eminence in the global game. Sadly, when
they finally claimed their Holy Grail by winning a home World Cup last
year, Carter missed the sharp end of the tournament through injury.

To see the Kiwi response to his demise at first hand was to understand
his role as a focal point of so much hope and expectation. Negative
bulletins about Carter prompt nationwide panic. It is a small-scale
version of the phenomenon in India, where public morale is intrinsically
linked to the health and batting exploits of Sachin Tendulkar.

So when Carter revealed on Twitter yesterday that Honor, a former New
Zealand hockey captain, is 21 weeks pregnant, the announcement made
waves. He was typically bashful about all the fuss. After admitting to
being ‘very excited’, he was asked if he hoped his child would be
sporting. Stuttering for an appropriate answer, he eventually came up
with: ‘Yeah . . . reasonable genes there, so who knows…!’

More comfortable territory was any talk of Saturday’s Test. While Carter
diplomatically suggested England can ‘beat any team on their day’, it
was somewhat more revealing when he described the hosts as
‘well-structured’. In direct opposition to him at Twickenham will be
21-year-old Owen Farrell of Saracens, who has eight caps to the Kiwi’s
93. It will be a classic case of master versus pupil.

This may be the last game in a gruelling season, but for the All Blacks
and their icon, there can be no easing off now. Steve Hansen’s side have
a 20-match unbeaten run to protect and Carter is adamant there is no
danger of complacency despite their nine-year hold on this fixture. For
his own part, the fire still burns.

‘Every time you get to pull on the black jersey you’re wanting to
perform,’ he said. ‘The drive is still there, which is important. The
hunger and desire to play the best I can every week is still there,
which is a good sign.’

It is a particularly bad sign for England. Carter has had his fun
watching the Stones. Now he is on his way back to Twickenham, ready to
paint it black once more.

DAN CARTER'S TWITTER COMPETITION

Carter with rugby tickets

After sampling the most expensive tickets in town at the Rolling Stones concert, New Zealand star Dan Carter is offering his Twitter followers some freebies.

The fly-half is giving away two pairs of tickets (pictured right) for England’s crunch game against the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday. The catch Entrants have to submit a ‘creative’ film explaining why they deserve the tickets, performed in front of a London landmark.

Carter will announce the winner at midday on Friday.

Tweets from @DanCarter

‘Last leg of the tour and I think we should do something crazy and creative for #EnglandDCHookup’

‘In order to win double pass to the England game, you need to send me a #creative video on why you want those tickets.’

‘The video needs to include a well known London landmark in the background. Remember you have to be able to attend the game in person.’

‘Shy & don’t want to be in the video that’s fine as long the video is creative, includes a London landmark and why you want those tickets’

Boxing deserves cynical Audley Harrison: Patrick Collins

A sport without shame gets the man it deserves in cynical Audley

By
Patrick Collins

PUBLISHED:

21:17 GMT, 27 October 2012

|

UPDATED:

23:50 GMT, 27 October 2012

It is a spring evening in May 2001 and
Wembley Arena is packed for the main event. In the red corner, Mike
‘The Jinx’ Middleton from Tampa, Florida. A 33-year-old private
detective, he has lost half of his 18 contests. He stands 6ft 1in,
weighs 15st 7lb and is earning about 3,500 for his night’s work.

In the blue corner, five inches taller
and three stones heavier, Audley Harrison, Olympic champion, national
hero. He is making his professional debut and has signed a long-term,
1million contract with BBC Television.

It is a predictably brief and farcical
encounter. Just two minutes and 45 seconds pass before the referee
waves merciful arms above the stricken Middleton.

Strike a pose: Mike Middleton and Audley Harrison before their farcical bout

The beginning of the end: Mike Middleton and Audley Harrison before their farcical bout

Later, ‘The Jinx’ is asked if he is
disappointed. He laughs, long and loudly. Disappointed! Not a bit. He
knows the score. He has given the punters what they want. Submission was
his highest ambition. Meanwhile, Audley, in a moment of modest
introspection, observes that it might easily take him all of five years
to become world heavyweight champion.

I remember thinking that the end was
nigh. Woefully devoid of talent and authenticity, professional boxing
had downgraded its status from sad joke to protracted pantomime. It was
time to draw the curtains. And yet the joke has endured for a decade
and more, despite the overwhelming evidence of absurdity.

The cast is preposterous. David Haye
and Dereck Chisora, a prize pair of hapless hams, prove that a bar-room
brawl is the perfect promoter. Ricky Hatton, battered by Floyd
Mayweather and laid flat as water by Manny Pacquiao, attempts a comeback
after three years of spectacular self-indulgence and the tickets go
flying from the box office. ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, once a magnificent
cricketer, sheds a few pounds, poses as a heavyweight fighter for a
television stunt and requests a boxing licence. He is famous, you see,
and must therefore be taken seriously.

Bloodied and bowed: Harrison's cut nose is nursed during the one-sided defeat to David Price

Bloodied and bowed: Harrison's cut nose is nursed during the one-sided defeat to David Price

More from Patrick Collins…

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27/10/12

Patrick Collins: We owe it to young Danny Rose to take a stand against these vile bigots
20/10/12

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13/10/12

Patrick Collins: Why Pardew and his pals are no credit to Newcastle
13/10/12

Now Abramovich must speak out as Terry and Cole saga rumbles on
07/10/12

Patrick Collins: Redemption KP's been there, done that and got the T-shirt…
06/10/12

Patrick Collins: Olly's crew thrown overboard at Medinah's own Tea Party
29/09/12

Patrick Collins: How could Hodgson get it so wrong over toxic Terry
29/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Meanwhile, our Audley remains perhaps
the most shameless figure in a sport without shame. For years, he has
performed with the nervous air of a tightrope walker afraid of heights.
He clearly hates the game, fears the punishment, dreads the humiliation …
but worships the purses.

Now 41, and having recently been
flattened in 82 seconds by David Price, he has taken stock. On the one
hand, he sees the world ratings which place him at 81st among the
heavyweights; just below a Christian Hammer of Hamburg and just above
one Bowie Tupou of Los Angeles. On the other, he recognises that there
is still money to be made.

And so, he issues an official
statement. ‘I’ve decided to carry on. One more shot at glory … A
decision has come from above. He told me, “Son, lace up your gloves.
Your time as a boxer is not quite done”.’

The mocking laughter comes in waves. What is this talk of glory Who could believe the deity is such a terrible judge of boxing Yet Audley ignores the derision. He knows memories are short and hilarity will quickly die. For cheap threats and banal banter still shift tickets; fewer than before but sufficient to keep the wolf from the door. And isn’t that what the game is all about; schmoozing the public, selling notoriety, pushing empty promises while remaining brutally realistic

Outgunned: Harrison reflects on the sixth defeat of his professional career

Outgunned: Harrison reflects on the sixth defeat of his professional career

Mike ‘The Jinx’ Middleton understood that simple truth. Aware of his pugilistic limitations, he became a sparring partner. He sparred with some of the biggest and best and his philosophical insights are instructive.

He said of his patrons: ‘If you give them too much, they’ll send you home. And if you’re too easy to beat up, they’ll send you home. You’re there for the guy who is paying you. Marvin Hagler used to say about sparring partners: “You bring ’em in on a jet and if they’re no good, you send ’em home on a bus”.’

Some of that clear-eyed realism rubbed off on Audley Harrison, who knows just how the cynical caper works. Well enough to keep the show on the road for a while longer. I gave the game a decade to live but I was wrong.

For the actors are still reciting their lines and the gullible are still lapping them up. We live in a credulous age, where talent is redundant and authenticity is an optional extra. At this rate, professional boxing might easily survive another five years.

Stats too much to digest

Question: what do you do when you don’t really like sport but wish to convey an air of blokeish authority Answer: you produce a statistic.

Stats are what they serve up in gastro pubs and Premier League hospitality boxes. Always they are preceded by the crushing query: ‘Did you know’

Each weekend yields a new and gloriously useless crop — the most ‘assists’, the greatest number of ‘flick-ons’ — and Saturday morning’s gem was up there with the best.

Mental block: The number crunchers love how Albion's defence adds up

Mental block: The number crunchers love how Albion's defence adds up

Did you know that West Bromwich have blocked more of their opponents’ shots than any other Premier League side this season A total of 44. Just in front of Sunderland and QPR.

How amazing is that Yes, I’ll have another sandwich, please. Prawn, for preference.

Olympics prove sceptics wrong

While the nation celebrated the extraordinary success of London’s Olympics, the sceptics stood scowling on the sidelines.

A joyless bunch, they had forecast doom, gloom and ultimate despair. The Games, they told us, were too flippant, too frivolous, a vulgar distraction from the sombre tone of the times.

As the days passed and the elation increased, their numbers grew significantly smaller.

Yet there remained an irreconcilable core of flat-earthers; too arrogant to change, too miserable to recognise joyful reality. And they wagged their fingers and addressed us with condescending disapproval.

Magical: The Olympics was a shot in the arm to Britain

Magical: The Olympics was a shot in the arm to Britain

No matter that the capital’s image was being transformed, that the world was looking at Britain in a different light, that the nation was revealing qualities of imagination and organisation we had quite forgotten we possessed: the fact was, we simply couldn’t afford to stage sport’s greatest festival. It was an outrageous extravagance. And anybody who believed differently was either a knave or a fool.

Last week, as you may have noticed, Britain came out of recession after recording one per cent growth in the three months to September. A fragile recovery, perhaps, but the strongest growth figure of the past five years.
And, while it is impossible to be wholly accurate, a substantial proportion of this growth was attributed to Olympic ticket sales.

As vulgar distractions go, I would say that London 2012 served this country rather well.

PS

Andrew Strauss has been reflecting on his last, emotional, act as England captain. He sat down and composed a stream of hand-written letters of appreciation to the players who had served under him.

Did Kevin Pietersen feature on his list, he was asked

‘Um … I didn’t write to KP, actually,’ he said. He added: ‘I texted him.’

By common consent, Strauss is a loyal, decent, honourable man. Who has a wonderfully wicked way with a stiletto.

Andrew Flintoff will get boxing licence

Freddie licensed to fight: Cricket legend Flintoff to get nod for November boxing bow

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UPDATED:

08:42 GMT, 19 October 2012

Andrew Flintoff is set to be granted a licence to reinvent himself as a professional heavyweight boxer.

The former England cricket captain was put through a rigorous testing process by the British Boxing Board of Control to prove he is serious about a career in the ring, but it is understood he impressed during an interview and also in a demonstration bout at his gym.

Elements of Flintoff’s medical have not yet been finalised, but the Board expect to rubberstamp their approval over the weekend, with Flintoff set to make his debut before the end of the year.

The 34-year-old, who had not fought at any level before an impromptu sparring session with Barry McGuigan last year, has given up alcohol and lost more than two stones in weight after 10 weeks of full-time training under McGuigan and his son Shane.

Lean and mean: Flintoff poses in the boxing ring

Lean and mean: Flintoff poses in the boxing ring

Lean and mean: Andrew Flintoff poses in the boxing ring ahead of his first bout on November 30

The Board are just waiting on elements of the medical before they sanction his professional debut.

A November 30 date at Manchester Arena has been mooted, although an opponent has not yet been decided.

Once one of English cricket's most
popular and charismatic characters, it was Flintoff's various brushes
with the sport's authorities and a raffish persona that always endeared
him to the England fans.

Training: Flintoff has given up drinking and has shed more than two stones

Training: Flintoff has given up drinking and has shed more than two stones

Retiring: Plagued by injury, when Flintoff quit cricket he said: 'I love playing Test cricket, but the decision has been made for me - I don't think I've been left with any other choices'

Retiring: Plagued by injury, when Flintoff quit cricket he said: 'I love playing Test cricket, but the decision has been made for me – I don't think I've been left with any other choices'

He famously lost the England vice-captaincy after getting into difficulties in a pedalo after heavy drinking – instantly immortalised in the tabloids as 'Fredalo' – following a defeat to New Zealand in the Caribbean in 2007.

He was also forced to apologise to team-mates after missing part of a squad-bonding trip to Flanders.

Training: Flintoff has given up drinking and has shed more than two stones

Training: Flintoff has given up drinking and has shed more than two stones

He failed to board the bus taking captain Andrew Strauss and the other players on a tour of First World War trenches – sparking speculation he had drunk too much at the previous evening's private dinner.

When he retired from cricket, he said: 'I love playing Test cricket, but the decision has been made for me – I don't think I've been left with any other choices.

'I've not been playing Test cricket very often over the last few years so it's bitterly disappointing but it's something I've not been doing very often anyway.

'It's also important for the team that I make this announcement because they need to move on.'

Flintoff
has stayed active since quitting cricket in 2010 because of injury,
mainly to an ankle and both shoulders. He has cycled from Athens to
London and rowed the channel among a host of
charity challenges

His current weight is understood to be
under 16 stone, with a desired fighting weight in the region of
15-and-a-half stone, which would leave him on the lean side for a 6ft
4in heavyweight.

His
decision to enter the ring has drawn a mixed response in the boxing
community, with promoter Frank Warren suggesting Flintoff is too old to
start life as a pro fighter.

David Price, the British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion, insists Flintoff is only justified in fighting if his motives are genuine.

Bowing out: Flintoff in action at the Oval in 2009

Bowing out: Flintoff in action on the cricket pitch at the Oval in 2009

He said in September: 'Freddie’s as entitled as anyone to try it out and some people come to professional boxing later in life but if it’s just some type of PR stunt then it’s disrespectful to boxing.

'The reality is he could get hurt if there’s someone in front of him who’ll stand up and throw punches back.

'It’s car crash TV but will probably get people watching.'

Flintoff said: ‘It’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

'I played my last game of cricket at the age of 31 and I’m only 34 now.

'I’ve always loved boxing and I’m going to have a go at it and see where it takes us.

'When you put yourself out there you put yourself up for a bit of criticism, but I’m not bothered.

'The people who criticise, what are they are doing Criticising is easy to do.’

Flintoff retired from Test cricket in July 2009 following an 11-year England career.

Danny Rose will decide if he can face Tyne Wear derby, insists Sunderland boss Martin O"Neill

Rose will decide if he can face derby after race-hate nightmare, insists O'Neill

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UPDATED:

21:56 GMT, 18 October 2012

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill
will hold talks with England Under 21 star Danny Rose before deciding
whether he is in the right state of mind to play in Sunday's Wear-Tyne
derby.

The Tottenham defender, on loan at
the Stadium of Light for the season, was subjected to racist abuse
before, during and after a Euro 2013 play-off in Serbia this week.

Fury: Danny Rose (right) is separated from Serbian player Milos Ninkovic by England colleague Craig Dawson

Fury: Danny Rose (right) is separated from Serbian player Milos Ninkovic by England colleague Craig Dawson

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He revealed he was exposed to a torrent of monkey chants and gestures and two stones were thrown at him by Serbian thugs.

UEFA have announced charges against both the Serbian football federation and English FA for the improper conduct of their players, and against the Serbs for 'alleged racist chanting' by fans.

The FA have sent UEFA a full dossier of evidence, and general secretary Alex Horne has questioned whether England will play matches in Serbia again.

Rose, who was described as inconsolable after the game, returned to Sunderland on Thursday and took part in a light training session with other players just back from a week of international matches. They face Newcastle in the 146th North East derby on Sunday afternoon.

And O'Neill, who spoke briefly with his first choice left-back, said he is likely to let the player decide whether he is fit enough to face their local rivals.

Seeing red: Rose is sent off by referee Huseyin Gocek after kicking a ball into the crowd

Seeing red: Rose is sent off by referee Huseyin Gocek after kicking a ball into the crowd

The Sunderland boss said: 'I will
speak to him first about it and give him a day or two to let things die
down, if they do, and let him try to start focussing his mind on the
game. I am sure that he would want to play.

'I am getting to know Danny, I think
he is a good little character, he wants to play every week and I think
he can improve his game – and he has the ability to improve them, I'm
not asking him to do things he can't do.

'It was disappointing considering all
the efforts that have gone on here to eradicate racism from the game. I
think it has always been there but I'm not sure that 20 or 30 years ago
it was a big issue.

'It's part of the job, young players
who have not experienced things like this can respond positively and I
am sure they will do.

'It is something he won't have
encountered before and it is a difficult situation for him. Obviously I
have the utmost sympathy and empathy. It is something he should not have
to endure.

'I notice he had some words with the
assistant manager who said try get through it and we will fight the case
afterwards and that is probably what is going to happen.'

Fracas: England and Serbia players clash after the final whistle

Fracas: England and Serbia players clash after the final whistle

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has
also offered his support to Rose and confirmed he has spoken to the
22-year-old, who was sent off after the final whistle in the game.

He said: 'It's extremely difficult
for Danny. He was disappointed by that happening, by the situation which
he had to live with, the atmosphere he was confronted with.

'I told Daniel I support him
completely in this situation. He felt abused and this is obviously a
serious matter which at the moment is in the hands of both FAs.'

Chris Hughton, the only black manager
in the Barclays Premier League, has called for UEFA to be “brave” and
order national associations found guilty of racist abuse from supporters
to play behind closed doors or be banned.

The Norwich boss said: 'This gives
UEFA a really good opportunity now to stamp their authority on this
situation. It is not the first time.

'There is an opportunity now for them
to be big and brave, to stamp down on it and I sincerely hope they do,
because it deserves it.

'All of us in the game want to see
improvements made. We have made great strides here in England, and for
that to happen abroad, there has to be stronger deterrents.'

Enraged: Marvin Sordell erupts next to the players' tunnel

Enraged: Marvin Sordell erupts next to the players' tunnel

Video of the sickening monkey chants at the final whistle

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Ricky Hatton comeback to be approved by board

Board set to approve Hatton comeback as Ricky prepares to return to boxing

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UPDATED:

15:01 GMT, 13 September 2012

Ricky Hatton will be granted a new boxing licence providing he successfully completes all parts of a medical, the British Boxing Board of Control confirmed on Thursday.

The former two-weight world champion, who turns 34 next month, retired three years ago but is set to relaunch his career at a press conference in Manchester on Friday.

Making a comeback: British boxing favourite Hatton is returning to the sport

Making a comeback: British boxing favourite Hatton is returning to the sport

Hatton, who has been crowned both light-welterweight and welterweight champion, attended a BBBoC meeting on Wednesday after shedding almost three stones in training this year.

BBBoC General Secretary Robert Smith said: 'He [Hatton] came before the board yesterday. I'm not a doctor but once we get the medicals in our doctors will look at them. If they are fine they will be signed off. That's all we're waiting for.

'He's been granted it [the licence] pending his medical – so subject to the completion of all his medicals.

Bruising: Manny Pacquiao was too good for Hatton in their Las Vegas fight of 2009

Bruising: Manny Pacquiao was too good for Hatton in their Las Vegas fight of 2009

'We've got some parts of it but there are a few parts to a medical. We have received some of it but we are just waiting for the rest of it and when we get the rest of it, I presume at the beginning of next week, we'll put it all together and our doctors will consider it.'

Hatton was the subject of allegations of cocaine abuse two years ago but Smith says the Manchester-based boxer has cleaned up his act.

'He was very frank,' Smith said. 'He admitted things he had done wrong and was looking to put it behind him. He looked very well and spoke very well and is entitled to another opportunity, pending his medicals.'

Happy days: Hatton celebrates a win over Jose Luis Castillo in 2007

Happy days: Hatton celebrates a win over Jose Luis Castillo in 2007

Hatton's last bout was a brutal second-round knockout by Manny Pacquiao in May 2009 and he has since established his own promotions company which ran into problems in May when he lost his television deal with Sky.

For his comeback fight, it is likely the undercard would feature a majority of Hatton Promotions boxers, including Martin Murray, Anthony Crolla, Rendall Munroe and Scott Quigg.

Ben Morgan ready for England v France clash

Slimline Morgan bins the fry-ups as he gets ready for Le Crunch

Fry-up fan Ben Morgan may have stopped visiting the greasy spoon, but he is ready to serve up a full English performance against France on Sunday.

Morgan is primed to win his fourth cap in Paris against the formidable French back row of Thierry Dusautoir, Julien Bonnaire and Imanol Harinordoquy.

The burly number eight has come a long way from the days when he worked on a building site, ate a high-fat diet and then turned out for Cinderford or Merthyr Tydfil on a Saturday afternoon.

Changing his ways: Ben Morgan has given up the fry ups in the build up to the France game

Changing his ways: Ben Morgan has given up the fry ups in the build up to the France game

When Morgan signed his first professional contract with the Scarlets in 2009 he was out of shape and 'clueless' about fitness and nutrition.

But after shedding three stones during a punishing training regime, Morgan has emerged as one of England's stars of the RBS 6 Nations.

The 23-year-old has produced three eye-catching performances so far – and he is hungry for more against Les Bleus at the weekend.

'I was abusing my body a bit when I was younger, eating whatever I wanted,' Morgan said.

'Working as a plumber on a building site, I used to go for fry-ups with all the lads and for the amount of calories I was eating, I wasn't burning enough off.

Getting a grip of things: Morgan does his best to hold back Wales' George North

Getting a grip of things: Morgan does his best to hold back Wales' George North

'My heaviest recorded weight was 132.5kgs (21 stone), and that was when I first turned up down at the Scarlets.

'I was absolutely clueless. It took me over a year and a half to lose the weight. Now I am 114-115kg (18 stone), I'm getting around the park and I'm feeling comfortable.

'The test this weekend will be huge. France have very good players in that back row, with great work-rate and very experienced internationals.

'You want to be going in against the best people. It's a great challenge and one you always look forward to.'

Slimmed down: Morgan says he was 21 stone when he first joined Scarlets back in 2009, he is now 18st

Slimmed down: Morgan says he was 21 stone when he first joined Scarlets back in 2009, he is now 18st

Morgan made an impact off the bench in England's wins against Scotland and Italy before earning a first Test start in the frustrating 19-12 defeat to Wales two weekends ago.

England may have lost but the performance was encouraging, with Morgan's ball-carrying injecting a tempo into their attacking game.

'As we keep working together we'll only get better. We've shown that so far, and hopefully we can underline that against France,' Morgan said.

Morgan's fitness regime included dragging sleds around the Parc y Scarlets and breathing through a snorkel as he ran on a treadmill in a weighted vest.

Having been turned into a Test player by the Scarlets, Morgan is leaving west Wales in the summer to fulfil a boyhood dream and play for Gloucester.

Morgan was missed by the local scouts as a youngster – although he did not help himself by falling off a mini-scooter and damaging his hip on the morning of a county trial.

'I went to Gloucester as a youngster and watched games from The Shed, sat on my dad's shoulders,' Morgan said.

'I've always been a supporter of the club. All my family are from Gloucestershire so for that reason it's coming home for me.

'As soon as I made my decision to play for England I knew I would have to be in the Premiership because you've got to playing against the guys you are competing for spots with.'

Diego Maradona in for UAE national team job

Maradona wanted by UAE for national job despite poor record at Al-Wasl

Diego Maradona is being lined up to take over as manager of the United Arab Emirates national team.

The Argentinian great has been based in Dubai since last May having taken over at successful domestic outfit Al Wasl, his first club management role.

Maradona was one of the stars of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as manager of his country where, despite the below par performance of his side, he attracted high levels of attention for his behaviour.

Centre of attention: Diego Maradona is on a shortlist for the UAE manager's job

Centre of attention: Diego Maradona is on a shortlist for the UAE manager's job

MARADONA EXCLUSIVE

In the lair of Diego! Maradona speaks to Martin Samuel at his new home in Dubai

Yousuf Al Serkal, chairman of the UAE's Football Association interim committee, told local media the enigmatic manager is on a short list that contains at least three names.

A decision is expected before the domestic season wraps up in May.

The UAE have been without a permanent manager since Slovenian Srecko Katanec was sacked after a 3-1 loss to Lebanon in September.

In December, Maradona, who earlier this month underwent a successful operation to have kidney stones removed, said he would accept the job 'with pleasure'.

Maradona admitted to Dubai hospital for kidney stones operation

The hand of doc… Maradona admitted to Dubai hospital for kidney stones operation


Admitted: Maradona will have an operation on Sunday night

Admitted: Maradona will have an operation on Sunday night

Diego Maradona has been admitted to a hospital in Dubai to have kidney stones removed.

Maradona's club Al Wasl says the
coach and former Argentina great complained of abdominal pains on Sunday
and was taken to a local hospital, where doctors determined he will
need surgery to remove kidney stones.

The club said Maradona's operation will take place on Sunday night and he is expected to be released on Monday.

Maradona coached Al Wasl to a 2-1 victory over Al Ahli on Saturday night.

He took over at Al Wasl in May.