Gray pens new Stanley deal

first_img He added: “I was pleased with my first season. “Next year I won’t be an unknown player in the Football League because I’ll have that little bit of experience behind me. “There will probably be a bit more pressure on me but I can’t wait for the season to start.” Gray has also won international recognition at under-21 level with Northern Ireland and he joins George Miller, Ian Dunbavin, Dean Winnard and Laurence Wilson in agreeing contract extensions with the club. Press Association Accrington striker James Gray has committed his future to the club by agreeing a contract extension for a further 12 months.center_img The 20-year-old scored two goals in 16 appearances last term having joined from Kettering at the beginning of the 2012/13 season and was delighted when new manager James Beattie asked him to stay. Gray said: “He spent hours with me on the training ground last season trying to improve me so I was delighted to hear he wanted to sign me for next season.” last_img read more

Read More »

Reality check for Lions – Gatland

first_img “All credit to the Brumbies. They played well, they frustrated us and it was a tough day at the office. “It’s a part of being on tour, regrouping. You have a bit of a knock, you take your disappointment and it is how you respond to it. A lot of us have been through it in the past – you just get back on the horse. “We have been building nicely, there has been a lot of momentum. Maybe it’s sometimes not the worst thing to take a bit of a knock and get a bit of a reality check, and we had that today.” The setback came just four days before the first Test against Australia in Brisbane, although Gatland’s likely Test team is currently wrapped in cotton wool ahead of the weekend. Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani struck early for the game’s only try, while full-back Jesse Mogg kicked penalties. The Lions, who were always behind, managed two Stuart Hogg penalties and two Owen Farrell strikes. Lions skipper Rory Best gave a brutally honest assessment of where it had gone wrong, saying: “We came here very confident we could win. We knew it wasn’t going to an easy task. We talked about not just matching the physicality but beating their physicality, and we didn’t even match it. “The breakdown, they really smashed us there, and that is very disappointing. The confidence started to go. Our mini units just sort of fell apart, and we lacked that little bit of composure. The disappointing thing for us was that we didn’t front up.” Warren Gatland admitted the British and Irish Lions had been given “a reality check” after they lost their unbeaten Australia tour record. The Lions went down 14-12 to the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium, and there could be few realistic complaints from a team outgunned up-front for an hour before head coach Gatland summoned reinforcements off the bench. It was the Lions’ first defeat against an Australian provincial team since Queensland beat them 42 years ago. “We didn’t have the urgency and intensity that we needed in the first-half. We are disappointed,” said Gatland, whose squad had won five games in succession. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Read More »

No quick fix for England – Lineker

first_img “What I hope will come out of (the commission) are some positive proposals,” added Dyke. “(Other national associations) appear to have acted in a much tougher way (in pushing through reform). I think people know we have a problem. Hopefully we can do it without using the big stick.” Dyke also wants the commission, which he expects to deliver its findings in the new year, to look outside the professional game and also outside the sport for answers to the question of the falling number of English players in the Premier League. “There’s something that says ‘if you haven’t played the game you don’t know’, but I don’t buy that. “I think you learn from wherever you can. We should learn from what is happening in football in other countries and we should learn from other sports.” Dyke went on to reject allegations of hypocrisy from his time as a Manchester United director between 1997 and 1999 and also, as chairman of Brentford, his appointment of former Germany international Uwe Rosler as manager. In an interview on Sky Sports News, Dyke said: “When I was a director of Manchester United I was lucky, I was there during that wonderful period when virtually half the youth team came and played in the first team. “Manchester United is one of the clubs that has developed young English players over many years. “In terms of Brentford, Uwe Rossler played a long time. I’m not against foreign managers. If you’ve got a league which is largely foreign owned, largely foreign managed and mainly foreign players you’ve got an issue for English football.” FA chairman Dyke delivered a keynote address on Wednesday, describing the English game as “a tanker which needs turning” and setting an ambitious target for England’s senior team to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. To get there, Dyke wants to work with the Premier League to increase the proportion of England-qualified players featuring in the top flight on a weekly basis, and Match of the Day presenter Lineker believes it is vital for the Premier League to buy into Dyke’s vision for the plan to succeed. Lineker wrote on Twitter: “Finally read Greg Dyke’s speech. Some realism as to issues, some fantasy as to targets. Unless PL & FA unite, it’s all pie in the sky. “Things are improving, small sided games and pitches, better coaching, but will take time and patience. There is NO quick fix!” Dyke conducted a round of media interviews on Thursday morning following up on his speech, and believes the Premier League understands the need for change without any pressure being exerted upon it. Dyke, who took over as FA chairman in June, said on talkSPORT: “I’m not sure I need coercive powers. I think the Premier League understands it is in everybody’s interest to have a successful England team. “I have no doubt some of the remedies might be tough for the Premier League and you might not be able to implement them.” Changes could include a quota on foreign players, a reform of the loan system and also addressing the thorny issue of a mid-season break. A mid-season break is commonplace on the continent, but it has never been introduced into English football despite lobbying from key figures. Former England manager Fabio Capello said the lack of a winter break was one of the main reasons behind England’s failure to win a major tournament since 1966. Former England striker Gary Lineker admits Greg Dyke’s vision to improve the national team will be “pie in the sky” unless the Football Association and Premier League unite to tackle the issues in the domestic game. Press Associationlast_img read more

Read More »

Keane won’t walk from Ireland, yet

first_img “The time I’ll have off will be good for me to do that, but I will continue as long as I can.” Keane’s enthusiasm for international football has never been in any doubt, but even he has been invigorated by the arrival of new management duo O’Neill and Roy Keane. When the names of O’Neill, Keane and former boss Mick McCarthy were put to him last month – as the Football Association of Ireland continued its search for the right man – he indicated any of the three would fulfil his personal requirement of having, as he put it at the time, “b**** and the capacity not to take s*** from anybody”. Asked for his reaction to the appointments, he said: “Well, when we were here the last time, the three names that were mentioned, I didn’t think we would have two of them here, to be honest with you. “But it’s been great, obviously. I haven’t had the pleasure of working with Martin before. There has always been certainly, a lot of speculation over the years as a player, but for some reason, it’s just never happened. “I didn’t think I would get the opportunity again, but thankfully I have and as the gaffer said, the last few days has been very, very enjoyable. “Everybody has been on form and certainly looking forward to a new chapter in Irish football.” Much of the talk since the new management team was installed has centred around the elder Keane and his fearsome reputation, something he himself attempted to dispel during his own press conference on Wednesday. However, the current captain insists his relationship with one of his predecessors is fine. He said: “No problem, no problem at all. When I came into the squad first, I was a young player coming through and Roy was a player that everybody looked up at and respected. “For me coming in, he was always great. People tend to see the negative side, but when I came in, he was always great. Certainly me and Damien Duff, he would always speak to us. “People forget, Roy is actually a very funny guy when you actually sit down beside him and very charming. You can have a good chat with him no problem. “I have never had any problems with him. As I say when I came in first, he was great to me. You judge people how they treat you and he was always good to me.” Keane, who will lead his side into friendly battle with Latvia on Friday evening in Martin O’Neill’s first game as manager, said: “Listen, I want to play as long as I can. “But I’m not daft. I’m 33 years of age, so next time the Euros come around… “Ultimately it’s the manager’s choice. All I can do is keep playing well and keep scoring goals and if he sees that I can continue doing that, then there’s no problem. “But I don’t have any problems with people making decisions. If anybody feels that I can help them now until the Euros and there’s a situation coming around to the Euros where for some reason my legs are gone, then I’ll pack it in.” Keane is unlikely to seek a loan deal to a Barclays Premier League club during the MLS off-season as he nurses a long-standing Achilles injury, but confirmed that he is close to extending his stay in LA by signing a new deal. He said: “I haven’t signed it yet, but it is verbally agreed, two and possibly three years. I am excited about that, it shows you how much faith they have in me to give me that contract. “Usually when you hit the 30-mark, you get a one-year rolling contract to see how you are so it goes to show the faith they have in me to give me that contract. “I will play on as long as I feel healthy and fit. At the moment, I feel good. I have a few niggles which I have had in the past and I will look at that. Robbie Keane has admitted he will retire from international football as soon as his legs go. The 33-year-old striker is on the verge of signing a new contract which could keep him at Los Angeles Galaxy for another three years and has no intention of hanging up his boots just yet. However, while he is determined to add to his 130 senior caps and 61 goals to date, he will have no qualms about calling time on his Ireland career if he feels he can no longer contribute. Press Associationlast_img read more

Read More »

Parlour: Cup should be Gunners goal

first_img Arsenal’s drought has placed added scrutiny on the future of Wenger, who is yet to sign a new contract with the club. Wenger has delivered Champions League qualification in every one of the 16 seasons he has been at the helm but that record is in danger of ending after a 3-0 loss to Everton last weekend. Roberto Martinez’s side are now only a point behind Arsenal in the league table, with a game in hand. Parlour admits the pressure on Wenger will be enormous if Arsenal fail to lift the FA Cup but the two-time double winner believes fans should be careful what they wish for. “The pressure on Arsene would be huge if they don’t win the FA Cup, there’s no doubt about that,” Parlour said. “You look at how some of the Arsenal fans react at the Emirates, they’re fed up with how the team are playing. “But changing a manager, it’s not easy, you’ve got to have a plan. “There are other good managers around the world, but a lot of them are in good jobs and would they leave their job to come to Arsenal? “They have to know the next guy could do as well if not better than Wenger and the grass is not always greener.” Arsenal have won the FA Cup 10 times – twice as many as Wigan, Hull and Sheffield United put together – and can equal Manchester United’s record of 11 this season. Wigan, currently fifth in the Championship, are the holders after pulling off a shock win over Manchester City in last year’s final but it is Wenger’s side who are strong favourites. “Wigan are going to play with no pressure whatsoever,” Parlour said. “Their main objective this season is to get back into the Premier League and after last year, they know Wembley very well and so do the supporters. “All the pressure is on Arsenal but that’s when you’ve got to step up, that’s why you’re a top player, that’s why you play in big teams – to handle pressure.” Parlour added: “You can’t get a bigger occasion than playing at Wembley in a semi-final in front of a full house. “It’s a big opportunity for Arsenal to show they can bounce back – it’s about their mentality and passion going into the game. “The league is no longer in their hands but the FA Cup is and it’s vital.” :: williamhill.com are an Official Supporter of the FA Cup. Latest odds: 2/5 Arsenal, 7/2 Draw, 7/1 Wigan. Press Association They face holders Wigan in the first semi-final at Wembley on Saturday, knowing a win will see them play either Hull or Sheffield United in the final on May 17. Parlour, who lifted the FA Cup four times and was a runner-up once, believes winning the tournament is now more important for Arsenal than qualifying for the Champions League. “For me it’s all about winning trophies,” said Parlour, speaking on behalf of official FA Cup supporter williamhill.com. “I know the Champions League is important as well but if someone asks you at the end of your career what you’ve achieved and all you’ve got is coming fourth eight years running – what is that? “It’s great for the club financially but you don’t want to be a professional footballer to make money for your club – the whole objective of being a footballer is to win. “I was lucky to win lots of trophies when I played and for the history of the club it’s all about silverware. “It would give the club a big boost for next season because all those players are good players but they need to win something together. “That’s the big thing for me – fourth and a trophy would be fantastic but if I had to pick fourth and no trophy or fifth and a trophy, I would definitely take the trophy.” And Parlour claims the pressure on manager Arsene Wenger will be huge if the club end a ninth consecutive season without a trophy. Arsenal’s 2005 victory in the famous knock-out tournament remains the team’s latest triumph, with the lack of silverware becoming a source of growing frustration in recent years. Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour believes the Gunners should prioritise the FA Cup over finishing in the top four. last_img read more

Read More »

Watson charge continues

first_imgBubba Watson continued his impressive bid for a second Masters title in three years in the early stages of the second round on Friday. Press Association Watson was the only player in the 97-strong field to card a bogey-free round on a testing opening day at Augusta National, the left-hander’s 69 containing three birdies and 15 pars. And the flamboyant world number 12 had still not dropped a shot by the time a birdie on the seventh took him into a share of the lead with Bill Haas on four under par. center_img Australian Marc Leishman had briefly held the lead on five under par when he started his round with birdies at the first three holes following an opening 70. But the 30-year-old, who was in the penultimate group on the final day last year and famously celebrated as playing partner Adam Scott birdied the 72nd hole, followed that with bogeys at the fourth and fifth. Leishman was joined on three under by Masters rookies Kevin Stadler and Jonas Blixt, who had both carded opening rounds of 70 and birdied the par-five second today. And former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, who lost a play-off to Watson in 2012, was two under after 11 holes of his round following two bogeys and one birdie. Conditions were again perfect for the early starters, but recent history suggested the odds were against those not already high on the leaderboard. The last eight winners of the year’s first major championship had been inside the top 10 after the first round, which was good news for the likes of Watson and defending champion Scott, who was among the late starters. Rory McIlroy rewrote numerous records in his eight-shot victories in the 2011 US Open and 2012 US PGA Championship, so the 24-year-old would not be too worried about being joint 12th overnight. However, the Northern Irishman was concerned about being in the last group out just before 2pm local time, with tough pin positions, firm greens and wind forecast to gust up to 20mph set to make life difficult. The top 50 players and ties will make the halfway cut, along with any player within 10 shots of the lead. last_img read more

Read More »

Walsh would beat Adams – Barnes

first_img Adams eased into the semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as she outclassed and floored Sri Lanka’s Erandi de Silva on her way to a unanimous decision win. But no longer is the gold medal a mere formality for Adams as the revolution she did more than most to fuel yields increasing competition across all three women’s weight categories. Press Association Walsh’s team-mate Alanna Audley-Murphy also squeezed through to the middleweight semi-finals on a split decision over Islington-based Dominican Valerian Spicer. Double Olympic bronze medallist Barnes blazed into the last four by thoroughly outclassing Charles Keama of Papua New Guinea. A succession of swift hooks forced Keama to take two standing counts in round two and two more big shots in the third left the Papuan flailing and handed Barnes his second straight stoppage win of the competition. And Barnes’ team-mate and fellow Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan was another winner as he comfortably outpointed Bashir Nasir of Uganda. Northern Ireland ensured they will take home an impressive nine boxing medals after late wins for Steven Donnelly and Connor Coyle. Welterweight Donnelly out-manoeuvred Custio Clayton of Canada on a unanimous decision and middleweight Coyle completed a successful day by beating Siphiwe Lusizi of South Africa. England captain Antony Fowler led the way into the middleweight semi-finals with a comfortable points win over Nickson Abaka, while Qais Ashfaq and Scott Fitzgerald also guaranteed medals. Meanwhile, Savannah Marshall faces a women’s middleweight semi-final against rugged Nigerian Edith Ogoke after outpointing Pearl Morake of Botswana. Reigning bantamweight champion Sean McGoldrick of Wales edged through on a split decision over Ayabonga Sonjica of South Africa, and Welsh light-flyweight Ashley Williams beat Muhamad Redzuan of Mauritius. Former Welsh junior football captain Lauren Price also went through with a strong points win over Kaye Scott of Australia. Scottish heavyweight Stephen Lavelle outpointed India’s Amritpreet Singh but light-flyweight Aqueel Ahmed was well beaten by classy Indian Devendro Laishram. Nicola Adams may be blazing a trail as the world’s leading women’s flyweight, but the inspiration she provided to others could be about to come back to haunt her. Northern Ireland 21-year-old Michaela Walsh joined Adams in the semi-finals with a points win over Jamaica’s Sarah Joy Rae and is likely to face Adams in the final, provided she dispatches tough Indian Pinki Jangra next. Many remain confident of Walsh’s chances should she square off against the Olympic champion, with her team-mate from the Holy Family club in Belfast, Paddy Barnes, insisting: “What you’ve seen from Michaela is just a fraction of what she can do. “She spars with me in the club and she gives me lots of trouble. You heard it from me first – if they fight in the final, I’m telling you she’ll beat Nicola Adams.” Walsh is the first to admit the success of Adams played a significant part in shaping her own career, but she believes it will soon be time for a new star on the women’s scene. Walsh said: “Nicola and Katie Taylor have done so well but there are up-and-coming boxers now. Nicola is 31 and I’m a kid compared to her. I’m a big fan of hers but if we do meet I can go all the way.” Adams will face Canada’s Mandy Bujold in the last four on Friday and warned her rivals that, while her sport has grown in strength significantly in the two years since the London Olympics, so has her own ability. “I have grown massively since then,” Adams said. “I have really grown into my technique and my style. I am working on new things all of the time and everything just seems to be going really well and in full flow at the moment. “The sport has grown massively too. I know from after London 2012 it increased by 50 per cent and hopefully with everybody seeing the Commonwealth Games on the BBC there will be more and more girls and guys getting involved in sport and in boxing.” last_img read more

Read More »

Pearson dismisses form fears

first_img The Foxes go to Swansea in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday having picked up one point from their last three games. Their last win came in their 5-3 victory over Manchester United in September and they lost 1-0 at Newcastle at the weekend. But Pearson insists they have deserved more than a draw against Burnley over the last three games. He said: “We look at the games and reflect on them as honestly as we can. The facts remain if you don’t defend efficiently you’ll be punished. Likewise if you spurn the opportunity to take you’re chances you will be punished. “When you look at the margins at success and failure they are ever decreasing. The margins get smaller and the details get more important. It is difficult to always have a balanced view on it. “When people want to talk positively about your team and about us in general you can be quite wary about getting overly excited. Likewise I don’t get too downbeat when things don’t go how we would like them to go. It’s a long season and so far we have acquitted ourselves pretty well. You could argue we could have one or two points more or you could argue we could have one or two less. “It depends on the angle and how you want to look at it. “The last three results haven’t been what we want but there’s not too much of a difference between the early performances.” Press Associationcenter_img Leicester manager Nigel Pearson has dismissed fears over his side’s form despite their winless run.last_img read more

Read More »

Huth makes Leicester loan switch

first_img Huth joined Stoke from Middlesbrough in 2009 and was first choice at the back alongside Ryan Shawcross until suffering a knee injury in November 2013. The 30-year-old German needed two operations and did not play again until the end of August last year before another spell on the sidelines with a calf problem. By the time he returned he was behind Marc Wilson and Marc Muniesa in the pecking order and his only Premier League appearance of the season came as a late substitute in the 3-2 win over Arsenal in December. The most recent of Huth’s 187 matches for Stoke, meanwhile, came against Wrexham in the FA Cup a month ago. Leicester sit bottom of the Premier League table and boss Nigel Pearson will hope Huth can help shore up a leaky defence that has shipped 37 goals in 23 games. Asked for his impressions of Leicester, the former Chelsea defender told Foxes Player: “Obviously they beat Stoke at home so that was a bit of an upset for Stoke. “I’ve watched the games. I certainly watched the Manchester United game, the 5-3 game, so I’ve seen enough to be happy to come here. “There’s plenty of competition. I’m not expecting to walk into the team. I know I have to prove my worth and hopefully I can do that.” Huth will be unavailable for Leicester’s match against Crystal Palace this weekend as he completes a two-match suspension for breaching Football Association rules regarding social media. Press Association The defender has fallen out of favour at the Britannia Stadium after injury problems and will add significant Premier League experience to Leicester’s back line. Huth becomes the third player to join the Foxes in this transfer window following goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and striker Andrej Kramaric. center_img Leicester have signed Robert Huth on loan from Stoke until the end of the season.last_img read more

Read More »

Bruce and Poyet play down spat

first_img Bruce was also grateful to Burt for his persistence in holding him back when the red mist descended. “I thanked him, I’ll probably have to buy him a beer too,” he said. “A big heavyweight like me and he was a lightweight to be fair to him. He was exhausted trying to keep hold of me.” Poyet was less forthcoming in his post-match comments. Asked to offer an account of the incident with Bruce, he said: “No, because I am old-fashioned. What happened stays on the pitch. “I’ve spoken to Steve and shaken hands. I just saw him, nothing happened. It’s football. It’s passion. “I have to convince the officials not to put any buckets of drinks around me. I have no regrets whatsoever. If that is a bad image for football I am sorry but I don’t think it’s something to worry about.” Poyet was at least clear that Rodwell was the victim of inconsistency from referee Mike Dean, suggesting Paul McShane had won a free-kick in similar circumstances to Rodwell. “I was not happy with the decision of McShane. He was diving like he was in a theatre, dancing, ballet and then he got a free-kick for Hull. “And then Jack was diving and got a yellow card and free-kick against him. So give me one, you cannot get both against you. “McShane, in the first half, jumped with both feet and went down like he had been shot, but he won a free-kick. I was just asking for the same treatment, simple as that.” The rival managers clashed after Poyet was sent to the stands in the first half for reacting to Jack Rodwell’s caution for diving by angrily kicking a container of water bottles. The Uruguayan made a beeline for Bruce before making his way and – after an angry exchange of words and gestures – the Tigers boss lunged towards Poyet before being restrained by assistant referee Stuart Burt. Neither man covered themselves in glory in the heated incident, but tempers had cooled somewhat by full-time. Bruce admitted behaving like a “raging idiot” for his part, while Poyet declared himself “old fashioned” and preferred to leave the matter on the pitch. The pair shook hands in a KC Stadium corridor after seeing goals from Dame N’Doye and Rodwell cancel each other out, but there was plenty of simmering resentment beneath the surface. “We all do stupid things and we will wake up to stupid headlines. We’ll both regret it in the morning, but we get on with our lives,” said Bruce. “These things happen in the heat of the moment, grown men acting like a couple of children. “What he said will stay between me and him…it’s up to Gus to reveal what he said but I don’t think he will. “It wasn’t very pleasant, like ‘have a nice evening Steve’. But I’m not going to reveal it to sell your newspapers. “The critical thing was that Gus has seen it differently about Jack Rodwell diving to gain advantage. The referee got it right, but I think by his reaction Gus saw it the other way.” Press Association Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet both attempted to downplay their touchline spat after an ill-tempered 1-1 draw between Hull and Sunderland. last_img read more

Read More »