France wait on M’Vila injury news

France coach Laurent Blanc faces an anxious wait on the fitness of defensive midfielder Yann M’Vila, after the Rennes midfielder came off injured just five minutes into their clash with Serbia on Thursday evening. The 21 year old, who has recently been heavily linked to a move to the Premier League with Arsenal, was involved with a clash with Dusan Tadi?, appearing to injure his calf. He then left the pitch two minutes later in tears, replaced by Alou Diarra, and had to be consoled on the bench by teammates.…

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Lampard out of England Euro 2012 squad

Frank Lampard is out of England’s Euro 2012 campaign with a thigh injury, the Football Association has confirmed. Lampard visited England medics for a scan this afternoon on his thigh muscle, and the result has been that the Chelsea midfielder is not fit enough to be included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad. Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson will be brought into the squad as a replacement, as soon as UEFA medics have confirmed Lampards injury. England Manager Roy Hodgson confirmed the news: “It’s a huge blow for the team, especially coming after…

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Euro 2012 Fact-file – Spain

Spain head into the 2012 European Championships as the holders and world champions, having won the last tournament in Austria and Switzerland in 2008 and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The favourites will be looking to become the first nation to win three consecutive major international tournaments with short passing and a high tempo – or tiki-taka – once again the name of the game. Tiki-taka requires an almost telepathic understanding in the middle of the park, and Spain’s midfield is dominated by Barcelona, who in recent years…

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Euro 2012 Fact File – Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland will compete in their first major tournament for a decade at Euro 2012. Their last appearance was at the 2002 World Cup, and from the current squad, only Shay Given, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane actually played in that tournament. In Poland and Ukraine, the Irish go up against the last two World Cup winners and the defending European champions, Italy and Spain. Slaven Bilic’s Croatia, quarter-finalists last time round in Austria and Switzerland, make up the so-called Group of Death On the face of it…

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Baines flattered by Man Utd link but admits love for Everton

Everton and England full-back Leighton Baines has admitted he is flattered to be the subject of transfer attention from Manchester United, but stressed that he cares greatly about his current club, the North Wales Daily Post has reported. Baines is said to be near the top of Sir Alex Ferguson’s summer transfer window wish list to provide competition for and eventually replace Patrice Evra, who has also been linked with a move away from the club, the newspaper adds. Everton would not be receptive to an offer for their left-back…

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Vermaelen pledges future to Arsenal

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has revealed he does not see himself ever wanting to leave the club, insisting he is happy to stay at the Emirates Stadium for the rest of his career, according to the Daily Mirror. Vermaelen joined Arsenal in 2009 from Dutch side Ajax and was an instant hit, being named in the PFA Team of the Year for 2009-10 and was later appointed Arsenal vice-captain under Robin van Persie. And at a time when van Persie’s future is unclear, Vermaelen has moved to correct any speculation…

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Chelsea striker Torres eyes third trophy of the season with Spain

After winning the FA Cup and Champions League with Chelsea, Spain striker Fernando Torres has his eyes on a third competition victory – Euro 2012, the Daily Mail has reported. Torres scored in the final four years ago as Spain won the European Championships for the second time in their history and the 28-year-old hopes to cap an up-and-down season by retaining the trophy. Having previously been dropped from the national team squad in February, Torres is in contention to start for La Rioja after David Villa failed to recover…

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England defeat would be disastrous for France, admits Arsenal defender Koscielny

France cannot afford to lose their opening game at Euro 2012 to England, the Daily Mirror has reported Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny as saying, as a defeat would threaten to ruin the rest of their campaign. The two nations meet on June 11 in their first group game of the tournament, with the 26-year-old Gunners centre-back revealing France intend to play the match as if it were the final itself. Koscielny, confirmed in Laurent Blanc’s 23-man party this week, added that playing England is France’s nightmare scenario. “Our first match…

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Liverpool midfielder Henderson waiting on England Euro 2012 call-up

Jordan Henderson, the Liverpool midfielder placed on England’s standby list for Euro 2012, is waiting to hear if he will be in the travelling party after all following an injury to Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, the Liverpool Echo has reported. Henderson was overlooked when Gareth Barry pulled out of the 23 with a stomach injury, with Roy Hodgson preferring to turn to Everton defender Phil Jagielka instead, but Lampard is reportedly struggling with a thigh injury, potentially opening the door for Henderson to travel to Poland and Ukraine. Lampard is to…

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Lampard excited by Chelsea Hazard signing

Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard has admitted he is excited at the prospect of playing with Eden Hazard, the Belgium midfielder who this week revealed he was bound for Stamford Bridge, the Daily Mail has reported. Hazard announced on Twitter that he was joining the Champions League winners, although official confirmation from the club has yet to arrive. Hazard is nevertheless expected to wrap up the move next week, the Mail notes, and will be in England to participate in an international friendly at Wembley on Saturday, England’s last…

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Arsenal consider move for CSKA Moscow striker Doumbia

The Daily Mail has reported that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is considering breaking the club’s transfer record to sign CSKA Moscow’s Ivory Coast international striker Seydou Doumbia, with a fee of £26m touted by the newspaper. Montpellier forward Olivier Giroud, currently preparing for Euro 2012 with France, is said to be Wenger’s preferred choice but in the event Giroud cannot be lured to the Emirates Stadium, the Mail claims Wenger will turn to Doumbia, with talks already underway between the Gunners and Doumbia’s Russian employers. The £26m fee may be…

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Euro 2012 fact-file – Italy

Handed one of the toughest groups at Euro 2012, Italy’s preparations for the tournament were hampered by the eruption of a match-fixing scandal that saw the team’s training base raided and left Cesare Prandelli without defender Domenico Criscito, who is under investigation for his alleged involvement in a wide-reaching case that has also seen Juventus Coach Antonio Conte come under formal investigation. With the spectre of criminality hanging over Italian football once more, comparisons have perhaps inevitably been drawn to the 2006 World Cup, when the Calciopoli case was in…

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Euro 2012 Fact File – Croatia

Croatia may have only gained independence in 1991, but since that time the nation’s football team has established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the international stage. A third place finish at the 1998 World Cup and runs to the quarter finals of the European Championships in 1996 and 2008 suggests the team from the Balkans is more than capable. At Euro 2008, Croatia’s exit came at the hands of Turkey through a penalty shoot-out defeat. In the process of qualifying for this summer’s finals, they exacted…

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Premier League wages hit record high as Chelsea and Man City face FFP problem

A survey has found that wages in the Premier League are at their highest level in the 20 years of the competition, with payroll increasing faster than revenue, the Guardian has reported, throwing into doubt the ability of the division’s top clubs, particularly Chelsea and Manchester City, to meet UEFA’s new Financial Fair Play regulations. The Guardian adds that the total wage bill for the top flight went up to £1.6bn in 2010-11, according to accountancy firm Deloitte, a jump of more than £200m from the last set of numbers.…

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Rodgers to become new Liverpool manager

After weeks of searching Liverpool have finally landed on a manager to replace Kenny Dalglish – Swansea City boss Brendan Rodgers, who has confirmed his desire to take the post at Anfield, according to the Daily Telegraph. Rodgers met with Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins on Wednesday and reportedly admitted he would like to leave the Welsh club to move to Merseyside, to which Swansea reluctantly acquiesced. Compensation must now be arranged between Liverpool and Swansea but the newspaper believes it will be a formality, with a £5m settlement to come.…

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Euro 2012: One to watch – James McClean

Name: James McClean Age: 23 Position: Winger Club/Nation: Sunderland/Republic of Ireland James McClean has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence over the past six months, and has been the subject of plenty of hype in the run up to Euro 2012. The Irishman was signed by Steve Bruce for Sunderland from hometown club Derry City in August 2011, but did not make his debut until 11th December in what was Martin O’Neill’s first game in charge. Since that impressive debut as a substitute, and first start in a victory over…

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Euro 2012 fact-file – Holland

Is it possible to have too many attacking options? Holland boss Bert van Marwijk has the difficult task of juggling superstar forwards into a winning combination, as he looks to exorcise the heart-breaking demons of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Belief is strong that the Oranje can go one better in Poland and Ukraine and win their first major tournament since 1988. For many years before 2010, Holland were the team who played the beautiful game in its correct fashion and did not have enough to get over…

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Euro 2012 fact file – Portugal

After a great recent record in European Championships, reaching the quarter finals or better in the last four tournaments, Portugal are desperate to finally capture glory and live up to their potential in 2012. They take their place in Group B, the labelled ‘Group of Death’, alongside Holland, Germany and Denmark – the latter qualifying as winners from Portugal’s qualification group. Paulo Bento’s side struggled early on in qualifying, with no wins from their first two games, which meant they had to rely on a somewhat comfortable 6-2 aggregate victory…

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Euro 2012: One to watch – Robert Lewandowski

Name: Robert Lewandowski Age: 23 Position: Striker Club/Nation: Borussia Dortmund/Poland Robert Lewandowski may not have the global profile of Mario Gomez or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, his lauded Bundesliga peers, but that may soon change at the forthcoming European Championships. On home turf, Polish hopes fall squarely on the shoulders of the 23-year-old Borussia Dortmund striker, who operates as a lone striker for both club and country. With 22 goals in 34 league games and eight assists, including a hat-trick in the DFB-Pokal Final, the reigning Bundesliga Player of the Season is…

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Foley hits out at Trapattoni after Ireland Euro 2012 snub

Kevin Foley has criticised Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni after the Wolverhampton Wanderers player was left out of the Ireland squad for Euro 2012, the BBC has reported. Foley was originally named in the travelling party three weeks ago but had been struggling with a hamstring injury, but insisted he was fully fit and played in Ireland’s friendly victory over a Tuscan select XI on Tuesday. But Paul McShane, who was brought into the set-up as injury cover, was included instead of Foley after concerns arose over the fitness…

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Rodgers Liverpool link persists but Anfield situation remains unclear

The name of Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers is still being mentioned in connection with the vacant Liverpool manager’s position, despite the Welsh side insisting they have not received a second approach from the Anfield club for the Northern Irishman, Press Association has reported. Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez was the favourite for the post and was even pictured meeting with Liverpool owner John W. Henry in the United States, but Rodgers’ name resurfaced in connection with the role, and the 39-year-old’s return from the United States to meet with…

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Tottenham midfielder van der Vaart in Schalke link

Tottenham Hotspur could face the prospect of losing Rafael van der Vaart to German side Schalke 04 in a £10m transfer, the Daily Mail has reported. The newspaper adds that the move appeals to the Netherlands international for familial as well as football reasons. Van der Vaart’s wife, Sylvie, spends much of her time away from London in Germany, working for German television, based barely 100km from the Schalke training ground. Van der Vaart is also said to be interested in the move to Germany because of a guarantee given…

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Diame was on brink of Liverpool move before Dalglish sacking

Former Wigan Athletic midfielder Mohamed Diame was ready to join Liverpool on a free transfer before Kenny Dalglish was sacked, the Liverpool Echo has reported. Diame has left the DW Stadium after his contract expired and terms on a new one were not agreed, with Liverpool said to be ready to move for the Senegal international before the club was thrown into disarray by the abrupt end of Dalglish’s tenure. The 24-year-old added that while he is aware of interest in his signature from Spain, France and Turkey, his preference…

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Abramovich preparing for Guardiola to take over at Chelsea

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is putting in place a structure at the club in order to attract former Barcelona Coach Pep Guardiola when the Spaniard is ready to return to football, the Daily Mail has reported. Guardiola is expected to spend a year with his family on sabbatical in New York before seeking a return to the game after four years in charge at Barcelona, a period that saw him become the most successful manager in the Catalan club’s history. In his time in charge at the Nou Camp, Guardiola…

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