Aston hails Irish win

first_img Press Association “The win was based around attitude, commitment and heart – Ireland’s Call – there were heroes everywhere, I couldn’t be prouder of them, it is one of my all-time favourite victories.” Ireland were without a host of big-name players from the World Cup and Aston’s plans were further upset when experienced prop Luke Ambler was forced from the field after only four minutes and was unable to return. “We got our energy from within,” Aston added. “I said last night in our team meeting that we wanted to earn respect; of each other, our opponents and the Irish fans and we’ve done that. “Josh Toole was the man of the match but Bob Beswick was outstanding, he was the glue, he is so smart and skilful out of dummy half, one of the very best in the business and set a captain’s lead. He has worked closely with Liam Finn who is assisting me and it showed. “Young lads like Robbie Mulhern – who was 20 today – and Joby Murphy just threw themselves into it and were magnificent especially as we had very little rotation and Shannon McDonnell ‘s two tries on debut were vital. But I was equally as please with the two domestic-based lads on the wings. They showed what talent the sport can attract.” If Ireland win the competition, they will automatically qualify for the 2017 World Cup and earn a place in the 2016 Four Nations Series but Aston is unconcerned about the added incentive. “We are going to enjoy tonight because the lads deserve to,” he said. “They did everything we asked and we are going to celebrate as only the Irish can. “Then we’ll re-focus for what will be a very tough game here against Scotland next week after their win last night.” Ireland coach Mark Aston hailed his side’s shock 22-12 win over favourites France in the Rugby League European Championship as “one of the biggest in the history of Irish rugby league”.center_img Shannon McDonnell and Haydn Peacock both scored two tries apiece as a Wolfhounds side containing nine debutants and with only three one-hour training sessions together, were urged on to a first win for two years by a vociferous crowd at the Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. “I hope the governing bodies will realise how massive the international game can be and now properly support it,” Aston said. last_img read more

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Social media a problem – Ayre

first_img The Italian was charged by the Football Association on Friday following allegedly racist and anti-Semitic comments on social media. Balotelli reposted an image of computer game character Super Mario on Instagram earlier this week, which included the words ”jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew”. He apologised for any offence caused, but is now set to face a ban, and Ayre told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme that it is something his club could do without. “Given the choice we’d love to keep all our players away from social media because it really is a problem,” he said. “I can honestly say there isn’t any more we could do as a club to try to educate our players around this, but it still rears its head at least once a season – probably at every club in some form or another.” Balotelli has been sidelined by a groin injury recently and Ayre added: “One of the problems that all footballers have had for many a year is that they have too much time to kill. “In that downtime they seem to put these crazy sort of messages up. It is definitely an issue. “I don’t think we have got to the point where we would stop people doing it, but we certainly have a very stringent policy that all of our players sign. If they step out of line then we punish them.” Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre has admitted players’ use of social media “is a problem” in the wake of the controversy surrounding Reds striker Mario Balotelli.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Monk yet to see best of Shelvey

first_imgEngland midfielder Jonjo Shelvey has been told to use team-mate Gylfi Sigurdsson as an example if he is to fulfil his potential at Swansea. But Swansea boss Garry Monk insists Shelvey, who won his solitary England cap in October 2012 but was part of Roy Hodgson’s squad this autumn for Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino and Estonia, has “frightening ability” and could play for one of the country’s top six clubs again if he matures on the pitch. “I think we have only seen about 50 per cent of what Jonjo can do,” Monk said ahead of Aston Villa’s Boxing Day visit to the Liberty Stadium. “We need to get him in the right place physically and mentally to be able to do it. He is still very young, which a lot of people tend to forget because he has been around for so long. “He might just need to do a bit of growing up in terms of the maturity in his game and recognising certain things a bit more because that ability is frightening when you work closely with him. “If we get that right and work with him closely we will have a top-six player on our hands.” And Monk believes Shelvey does not have to look very far to see what can be achieved if he puts his mind to it. Icelandic playmaker Sigurdsson signed on for a second spell at Swansea last summer after two seasons at Tottenham where he often found life difficult. But Sigurdsson’s form since returning to Swansea has been nothing short of sensational and with eight assists he is second only to Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas in that particular Premier League list. Press Association Shelvey has had an up-and-down season at Swansea, impressing at times in the club’s rise to eighth position in the Barclays Premier League but also guilty of some below-par performances which have seen him lose his first-team place in recent weeks. The 22-year-old former Liverpool man was sent off against Everton at the beginning of November and his start against Hull on Saturday – in which his 25-yard drive deflected off Ki Sung-yueng for Swansea’s winner – was only his second since that Goodison Park red card. “Gylf is a perfect example for Jonjo,” Monk said. “He built himself up, went to a big club but it didn’t quite work out for him at Spurs. “He’s come here, worked extremely hard at his game and delivers that performance you’re looking for. “It’s something for Jonjo to look at because ability-wise he’s up there with Gylfi and can be as good, if not even better. He has to follow that lead.” Shelvey should get the chance to impress in the new year with Ki set to miss possibly as many as six Swansea games when he is away at the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia leading South Korea. “We will want him to step up and if you get the opportunity you have to take it,” Monk said. “I speak to Jonjo a lot and he knows what I expect from him. “It is about pushing him to get him right mentally and physically and hopefully he will deliver.” last_img read more

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Ireland look to keep momentum

first_img India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni can afford the luxury of looking forward to the knockout phases and admits that, despite his team’s unbeaten record, they must remain wary. “What will be important is how good a cricket you play on that particular day, especially going into the knockout stages,” he said. “You will have to get the big batsmen – who can really score quick runs – out cheaply. That will be a big benefit and all the sides they have got batsmen like that. “A lot will depend on how you play or what kind of cricket you play on that particular day. I feel all the teams, they are nicely matched. “All of them, they have the right combination and all of them, they have clicked to a lot of extent. So I feel it’s a really balanced World Cup.” Press Association India have already qualified for the last-eight and could opt to rest some of their key players at Seddon Park, but Porterfield is not banking on the prospect. “No, I don’t think their guard will ever be down,” he said. “Whatever they decide to do is out of our control. Whoever they decide to play, it doesn’t really bother me. “We’ve just got to keep all the momentum going and keep on improving at the little things we want to and keep taking things forward.” Ireland’s status as a genuine threat to the established nations in world cricket has again been confirmed at this tournament, although it would arguably be their greatest giant-killing should they beat an India side unbeaten at this tournament. Porterfield will not let his team think in such terms after repeating throughout the World Cup that his side were looking no further ahead than their next game. “Every game there’s the same amount of points up for grabs, and India game is no different,” he said. “We’ve got to go into that looking to take two points and follow from there.” William Porterfield’s men need to win one from their final two pool games to progress out of their group for the second time in three World Cups. Already they have beaten two full-member nations, West Indies and Zimbabwe, but a third scalp is likely still required with Pakistan also still to play next Sunday. Ireland can confirm their place in the World Cup quarter-finals if they pull off another upset against defending champions India on Tuesday in Hamilton.last_img read more

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Silva returns to City training

first_img Silva looked to have been seriously injured on Sunday when he was caught in the face by an elbow from West Ham’s Cheikhou Kouyate. The Spain international received around eight minutes of treatment on the field at the Etihad Stadium before being carried off on a stretcher and taken to hospital for examination. But tests revealed the 29-year-old had suffered no fractures and the club were hopeful he could make swift return to action. That could now be possible with Silva pictured giving cameras a thumbs-up gesture as he returned to training on Tuesday, although he will continue to be monitored this week. City face FA Cup finalists Aston Villa in their next Barclays Premier League game on Saturday evening. News of Silva’s recovery is a boost for manager Manuel Pellegrini given the club’s already lengthy injury list. Captain Vincent Kompany is out with a groin injury and might not be fit to return before the end of the season. Midfielder James Milner, defender Gael Clichy and strikers Wilfried Bony and Stevan Jovetic were also sidelined for the 2-0 win over the Hammers. Manchester City playmaker David Silva has returned to training, the club have reported.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Undecided Grealish faces criticism

first_img The Republic boss made his move after seeing Grealish win rave reviews for his performances at club level in recent weeks, persuading him that the time was right less than two months after admitting he was happy to let the situation ride. Asked what had prompted him to change his mind, O’Neill said: “Well, of course he has played a lot of games since then. “He had not been a regular member of the team and when he did play, it was generally as sub. Under Tim Sherwood, he has started quite a number of games – not that I would start pre-empting Tim’s teams – but he has made a very good impression from the start. “Obviously as these games go along, he’ll get fitter too by starting matches – he seems to be lasting longer in the games too and doing a lot of good work – so of course, the last four or five weeks have made a big difference to Jack’s career and obviously to my thinking. “He is seen now as not just part of the squad, but seemingly part of the team, and people’s aspirations change a little bit during the course of weeks, never mind months, so it might be something he might look at differently. “But he did say he didn’t want to make a decision now.” Birmingham-born Grealish has been courted by both the Republic and England, but has already represented Ireland at under-age levels. He indicated earlier this year that he might take the Under-21s route with the Irish, but asked if he was confident the player would declare in his favour, O’Neill said: “Do you know what? I really don’t know at this stage, but I’m sure there’s still a good possibility.” Press Association The 19-year-old Aston Villa midfielder was criticised by both Ireland and England fans on Twitter for delaying a decision on which of the two countries to represent at senior international level, although there was also support from both sides for the emerging talent. An ongoing debate was rekindled on Tuesday when the teenager’s name did not appear in a 33-man provisional squad for the Republic’s friendly against Roy Hodgson’s men and the Euro 2016 qualifier showdown with Scotland next month, with O’Neill revealing he had asked the player if he would reconsider his decision to leave it until the summer to jump one way or the other. center_img Jack Grealish found himself the subject of social media abuse after turning down Martin O’Neill’s invitation to join up with the Republic of Ireland squad. last_img read more

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Alan Pardew reveals admiration for Leicester striker Jamie Vardy

first_img Press Association Similarly to Vardy, Pardew reached the peak of his playing career, with Crystal Palace, at a later stage than most professionals having spent much of it until then playing non-league. Despite nine goals in nine Premier League games so far this season and becoming a regular feature of Roy Hodgson’s England squad, many are yet to be convinced by Vardy’s qualities at the highest level and Pardew is aware of how difficult that struggle for recognition can be. Alan Pardew has revealed his admiration for Jamie Vardy’s rise from non-league football to the England team and spoken of the difficulties the Leicester forward will have encountered. center_img “The first battle you need to win is players accepting you from non-league,” said Pardew, whose team on Saturday visit Leicester in the Premier League. “When you’re coming in, in your mid-20s, to professional footballers, they kind of look and you and say ‘You’ve got enough to prove to us first’. “When you’ve done that battle everything else is a challenge, to try and put yourself up against the best players in your position. Vardy is doing it against centre-halves and in my day it was doing it against Bryan Robson and Gazza (Paul Gascoigne). It lifted me to try and play with those guys. Three or four years before I was a million miles away from that. “That’s why Vardy has that drive in him. Sometimes it’s a good route for a footballer. You see so many young footballers burst on the scene and when they reach 25, for some reason the motivational levels go off. We’ve seen that many times. Having that non-league history, being in the workplace, you realise how lucky and special playing professional football is, particularly in the Premier League.” The subject of the development of young English footballers remains a central theme surrounding the Premier League given that so few chances are given and so many promising careers go to waste. Pardew is presently reviving the career of Wilfried Zaha following his failed transfer to Manchester United and he believes that, in some instances, the less traditional path beginning among the lower divisions may be preferable to that at the favoured, luxurious Premier League academies. “I think sometimes it can be if I am honest,” he said. “There can be certain pampering we are doing in the academies through our groups that soften players, I do believe that. There is no chance of that in the non-league. “The key for (Vardy) now is to try and get that consistency for the next three, four years. He has had a big year but it is only his first year and he has to back it up now. “Roy (Hodgson) should also take a lot of credit for where Vardy is because it does come hand in hand. Selection is sometimes too early for a player, or he’s not right, and it knocks them back. With Vardy, he’s just picked it up and run with it and for Roy and the player they’ve both had great success with it.” last_img read more

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West Ham’s Andy Carroll set for another spell on the sidelines

first_img Manager Slaven Bilic, already missing the likes of frontmen Cheikhou Kouyate, Manuel Lanzini and Diafra Sakho, had hoped Carroll’s absence would not prove too long. The striker, though, revealed in a post on his official Twitter page during Wednesday afternoon the official prognosis was not likely to be so positive, with confirmation expected at the manager’s scheduled press conference on Thursday ahead of the trip to Newcastle. “Words can’t describe how I feel today,” Carroll wrote. Despite the disappointment of losing Carroll to injury, the win at Bournemouth continued the improvement for Bilic’s squad, who have now secured four straight victories in all competitions which sent them into fifth place in the Barclays Premier League. Harry Arter had given the hosts an early lead, before Dimitri Payet, making his first start for West Ham in more than two months following a knee injury, levelled midway through the second half with a fine free-kick before setting up Enner Valencia. The Ecuadorian forward scored a fine free-kick of his own to make sure all three points when back to the Boleyn Ground Defender Angelo Ogbonna is confident the Irons have the needed focus needed to reproduce their form on the road again at St James’ Park, where relegation-battlers Newcastle grabbed a thrilling 3-3 draw against Manchester United. The Italian said on West Ham TV: “We are really clever and we are really intelligent, we have to read the situation and keep our feet on the ground and take it step by step. “The manager knows what is best for us, so it is time to enjoy this game, but we have to focus on the next game because it will be really, really difficult away from home. “In England, there are no easy games, so that’s why we have to focus because Newcastle know our team. I think they will prepare everything well, so we have to focus because we want to beat them.” Press Association Carroll limped out after just 15 minutes against the Cherries, with reports suggesting the tear to his hamstring is likely to keep the one-time England regular out of action for up to two months. The 27-year-old is now set for more rehabilitation, having been blighted by a string of fitness issues since signing a permanent deal with the Irons in June 2013. center_img West Ham forward Andy Carroll has been left bitterly frustrated at the prospect of facing another spell on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury in the 3-1 win at Bournemouth.last_img read more

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James Ward-Prowse brace lifts Southampton to victory over West Brom

first_img England Under-21 midfielder Ward-Prowse was an unlikely goal hero, having previously scored just once in the Barclays Premier League. But he doubled that tally with just five minutes on the clock after Craig Dawson fouled Sadio Mane on the corner of the penalty area. Ward-Prowse curled the free-kick up and over the wall, his effort beating Baggies goalkeeper Boaz Myhill far too easily as it flew into the top corner. West Brom, who came from behind twice to draw at Chelsea in midweek, had chances to equalise but Craig Gardner headed James McClean’s cross wide and blazed another chance over. Yet Saints looked dangerous every time they attacked and Myhill kept out a Shane Long drive, although the keeper was grateful to Claudio Yacob for hacking the ball clear after making a mess of a corner. And in the 33rd minute the hosts’ pressure told with Dawson again the guilty party, although the defender was perhaps unlucky that his collision with Matt Targett in the area was adjudged to be a foul. Nevertheless, with regular penalty taker Tadic on the bench, Ward-Prowse did the honours with a coolly taken spot-kick which sent Myhill the wrong way. Saints would have been home and hosed by half-time but for a goal-line clearance by McClean from Targett’s low drive. Press Association Southampton rediscovered their goalscoring touch on the day they signed Charlie Austin by thumping West Brom 3-0. Frustrated Albion boss Tony Pulis made a double change at the break, sending on Chris Brunt and Salomon Rondon, but Southampton continued to create the better chances. Austin will have been licking his lips at the prospect of getting on the end of some of them, not least when Long sent Mane clean through only for the frontman to shank his shot across Myhill and wide of the far post. Tadic was introduced from the bench shortly after the hour mark and got on the scoresheet just eight minutes later, finishing with an angled snap-shot after he was played into the area by Steven Davis. With victory assured, Southampton fans began serenading their former hero Rickie Lambert, who must have been wondering why he ever left the club he could not stop scoring for just to end up sat on the bench at West Brom. Saints will be hoping they have just snapped up a new goalscoring talisman in the shape of Austin. TWEET OF THE MATCH “Good first half, @SouthamptonFC looked in control at the back and dangerous up front, great goal @Prowsey16!” – former defender and now Southampton Under-21s assistant Radhi Jaidi’s half-time assessment was equally relevant at full-time RATINGS SOUTHAMPTON: Fraser Forster: 6 Cedric Soares: 6 Jose Fonte: 7 Virgil van Dijk: 7 Ryan Bertrand: 6 Matt Targett: 7 Steven Davis: 8 James Ward-Prowse: 7 Victor Wanyama: 6 Sadio Mane: 6 Shane Long: 7 Subs: Dusan Tadic: 7 Oriol Romeu: 6 Cuco Martina: 6 WEST BROM Boaz Myhill: 5 Craig Dawson: 5 Jonas Olsson: 5 Gareth McAuley: 5 Jonny Evans: 6 Claudio Yacob: 5 James McClean: 6 Darren Fletcher: 5 Craig Gardner: 6 Stephane Sessegnon: 5 Victor Anichebe: 5 Subs: Chris Brunt: 6 Salomon Rondon: 5 Saido Berahinho: 5 STAR MAN Steven Davis – The midfielder once again pulled the strings for Southampton with a no-fuss display. Nice pass to Dusan Tadic to set up the killer third goal, capping another impressive performance. MOMENT OF THE MATCH James Ward-Prowse had only ever scored one Premier League goal before stepping up to curl a superb free-kick home. A certain Gareth Bale, formerly of this parish, would have been proud of that one. VIEW FROM THE BENCH Saints boss Ronald Koeman has taken to playing with three at the back, with Matt Targett and Cedric Soares as wing-backs. Albion chief Tony Pulis shuffled his pack but there was still no place for ex-Saints hero Rickie Lambert, with Victor Anichebe preferred up front. MOAN OF THE MATCH West Brom were truly pitiful and, very unlike a Tony Pulis side, they showed little appetite for the battle. They went toe-to-toe with Chelsea in midweek and deservedly earned a point, but here they went down with a whimper. NEXT UP Man United v Southampton (Barclays Premier League, January 23) Bristol City v West Brom (FA Cup third round replay, January 19) Saints splashed out £4million to land striker Austin from QPR on Saturday morning in a bid to pep up their misfiring attack. And just a couple of hours later Austin watched from the stands as James Ward-Prowse scored twice before Dusan Tadic wrapped up a comfortable victory. last_img read more

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Gael Clichy urges improvement from Manchester City after draw at West Ham

first_img City needed two Sergio Aguero goals to salvage a 2-2 draw at West Ham after Enner Valencia had twice fired the hosts into the lead. They can count themselves unfortunate, having also hit the post twice through Aguero and Fabian Delph. Press Association Manchester City defender Gael Clichy looked back on two dropped points in the Barclays Premier League title race and admitted: “We have to do better.” “I was surprised to come on that early,” Byram told the club website. “I was over the moon to be on the bench and to be involved and see how they do things down here. “When I walked out of the tunnel and saw the bubbles in the air and saw a full house with the fans cheering, it was great. Then to be thrown on, I was really happy. “When you’ve got players like we’ve got in our team, it makes it easier, because you’ve got two or three options every time you get it and I think it really helps when you’ve got players like that. “Hopefully I’ve given the manager something to think about. That’s what I’ve tried to do since I came in.” But in the end City were relieved to come away with a point after Hammers midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate’s header rattled the crossbar in stoppage time. “I think we can always do better. We conceded a couple of goals which tells you we can do better,” full-back Clichy told City TV. “Overall our performance was good but the second goal killed us a bit as we were on top of them. But that’s what happens if you don’t take your chances. “It’s a hard place to go. We wanted the three points and we didn’t get them, but we will take the positives. “I’m not surprised at how good West Ham were, they are a great team with great players. But we can do better and we have to do better.” In among a number of impressive performers for West Ham was Sam Byram, who was thrown in for a quicker-than-expected debut after Carl Jenkinson went off 12 minutes in. Right-back Jenkinson was injured giving away the penalty with which Aguero cancelled out Valencia’s 55-second opener. Byram, who only arrived from Leeds three days earlier, kept Kevin De Bruyne and then Raheem Sterling quiet as West Ham threatened to complete a double over City this season, only for Aguero to rescue them with 10 minutes left after Valencia had poked in his second. last_img read more

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