Monthly Archives: January 2019

  • Carroll return date still a mystery for shot-shy West Ham


    The London club, only out of the relegation zone on goal difference, host Chelsea on Saturday with manager Sam Allardyce admitting he is in the dark about Carroll’s fitness.


    The 24-year-old, who has not played a game for the club since signing on a permanent basis for 15 million pounds ($23.74 million) from Liverpool in June after a spell on loan, has been receiving treatment in Amsterdam since injuring his right foot in training in September.

    “We are trying to get a date out of the guys over in Amsterdam but they are reluctant to give us any clear indication of when he’s going to be able to join us back here and start training with the squad and getting back into the team,” Allardyce told a news conference.

    “It’s obviously a great worry and concern for us all and one we have to make sure we deal with.

    “To take the pressure off us all, we need results that we haven’t achieved in the first 11 games.”

    West Ham have the best defensive record outside the top seven but a meagre nine goals in the league has left them hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone.

    Allardyce has named a striker-less line-up in recent games and suggested his side’s hard-working approach this season could upset a Chelsea team ‘vulnerable’ after their recent loss to Newcastle United and draw with West Bromwich Albion.

    “Creating chances will be at a premium, so we have to be clinical enough to take them when we get them,” he said.

    “If we can do that, as Newcastle showed a few weeks ago, we can frustrate Chelsea and win the game. That game showed there is a vulnerability there and, if your team masters its tactics, you can beat a team as big as Chelsea.”

    (Editing by Martyn Herman)

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  • Injury-depleted Dortmund sign up free agent Friedrich


    The 34-year-old Friedrich, who signed a deal until the end of the season, had been training with the Bundesliga club for the past few days and was without a side following his release by Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the last campaign.


    “We are reacting to the injuries we have in our defence,” Dortmund sports director Michael Zorc said in a statement. “Manuel Friedrich has a lot of experience and has left a very good impression in training.”

    Friedrich is no stranger to Juergen Klopp, having had two spells at Mainz 05 under the Dortmund coach. He also played for Werder Bremen and was at Leverkusen from 2007.

    “I am really looking forward to wearing the Dortmund shirt when entering the stadium,” Friedrich, who won nine caps for Germany, said.

    “I only had that pleasure of being a visitor here and to have the yellow wall (standing home fans) supporting and not against you must be a sensational feeling. I look forward to a cool time in black and yellow.”

    Despite earlier concerns over his fitness levels, Klopp said later on Thursday that the defender could be in the squad for their game against leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday.

    “I got 80 percent of my grey hair this week (due to the injuries) but Friedrich is making a good impression in training. He is an ambitious player.” Klopp told reporters.

    “Now we have the chance to see how it is to deal with less easy situations in football. But we still have enormous quality.”

    Dortmund have seen their entire backline compromised in the past few weeks with central defender Mats Hummels becoming the latest victim after tearing heel ligaments in Germany’s 1-0 win against England on Tuesday.

    Left back Marcel Schmelzer was ruled out for three weeks with a muscle injury picked up in the same game, while central defender Neven Subotic suffered a cruciate ligament injury two weeks ago and will be out until the end of the season.

    Right back Lukasz Piszczek only recently returned to training following double hip surgery in the off-season.

    Dortmund are second in the Bundesliga, four points behind Bayern Munich, whom they host in the biggest game of the season so far on Saturday.

    (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John O’Brien)

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  • England drop Chase for RLWC semi


    England have dropped Rangi Chase for Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup semi-final against his native New Zealand at London’s Wembley Stadium, while star winger Manu Vatuvei misses out for the defending champion Kiwis.


    “As with every week, the squad is picked with not only the opposition in mind but the best combinations for ourselves,” England coach Steve McNamara said on Thursday.

    Five-eighth Chase, the 2011 Super League player of the season, had started all four previous matches of England’s World Cup campaign but ceded his spot to Melbourne Storm’s Gareth Widdop, who will play for St George Illawarra in the NRL next season.

    Widdop, who overcame a hip injury to make England’s squad, has only made two starts so far and both were in his original position of fullback.

    Reigning champions New Zealand knocked England out of the last World Cup in 2008, at the same semi-final stage, with a 32-22 victory in Brisbane before going on to record a shock win over Australia in the final.

    “We have had a great week with our preparation and the players are ready to take on the world champions in what I believe is the biggest game we have been involved in since the Rugby League World Cup semi-final back in 2008,” said McNamara.

    “The players are well aware of the importance of the game and the improvements we have to make from our previous matches to give ourselves every chance of beating New Zealand.

    “We will have to be at our best to win, but we’ll relish the pressure of playing against a quality team on one of the biggest stages in world sport.”

    Jason Nightingale is in line to fill Vatuvei’s boots on the wing, with unheralded 20-year-old Roger Tuivasa-Sheck having nailed down the other starting berth after scoring six tries in four appearances so far.

    “I am the youngest in the camp and there are a lot of guys here that have so much experience for me to use to get better. Each day I just make sure that I am talking to them and picking up on anything that I can,” Tuivasa-Sheck said.

    “Manu Vatuvei is someone that I really look up to and in training and in the matches we feed off each others’ ability, it is just so surreal that I’m playing with guys like him because he was my idol growing up.”

    The winger added: “Playing England will definitely be a huge challenge, throughout the course of the tournament they have been scoring well.

    “Some of their players are very experienced, so the young players have a figure to look up to which is very important if you want to succeed. Overall I am very excited to play them.”

    Squads (with two to be dropped for the match-day 17)

    New Zealand: Jesse Bromwich, Kieran Foran, Alex Glenn, Bryson Goodwin, Shaun Johnson, Sam Kasiano, Kevin Locke, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering (capt), Ben Matulino, Sam Moa, Jason Nightingale, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Frank Pritchard, Elijah Taylor, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dean Whare, Sonny Bill Williams

    England: Carl Ablett, George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Rob Burrow, Josh Charnley, Leroy Cudjoe, Liam Farrell, Brett Ferres, James Graham, Ryan Hall, Chris Hill, Lee Mossop, Sean O’Loughlin, James Roby, Kevin Sinfield (capt), Sam Tomkins, Kallum Watkins, Ben Westwood, Gareth Widdop

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  • Saints braced for revenge trip to Arsenal


    Saints sit a lofty third place in the league after 11 matches played, their 22 points just three fewer than top-of-the-table Arsenal.


    But Pochettino believes Saints can dispatch of the league leaders in the same fashion they dismissed Liverpool when they were top of the pile earlier in the season.

    “I think it’s going to be similar to the game against Liverpool because when we were playing them they were top of the league,” the Argentine told Southampton’s television service Saints Player on Thursday.

    “We always have to believe that we can get something positive out of every single game that we play. We believe that we can play a very good game and we can get a very positive result in this game – we always believe in that,” he added, espousing the belief that has lifted the modest south coast club up the top flight.

    The clash comes on the back of an international break during which Saints had a trio of players called up for England’s matches against Chile and Germany – Lambert, Rodriguez and captain Adam Lallana.

    Pochettino said the England trio were raring to go again at club level. “I’m very happy with their performances with the national side,” he said, despite England’s back-to-back defeats.

    “I’m sure it’s going to be a valuable experience for them in both the present and the future in this team and the national side as well perhaps.

    “It’s clear that the motivation and the experience that they had playing with the national side is going to help them for us at Southampton too.”

    Lambert, who led the line when Saints lost 6-1 at the Gunners last season, said he was looking forward to the clash and to making amends.

    “I’m looking forward to Saturday now because we’re doing well at the minute and hopefully we can take that into the game,” he told Southampton’s website.

    “We’re going to go there confident. We know it’s going to be one of the hardest tests to-date because Arsenal are playing well at the minute. It’s going to be tough, but we’re confident that we can go there and get something.”

    Rodriguez was confident the team will fare better than last season’s heavy defeat.

    “We’re going to take it to Arsenal so it’ll be a great occasion,” he said. “Last year was a nightmare to get beat 6-1 there, but we’ve got a point to prove and we’ll go there looking to do that.”

    (Editing by Alison Wildey)

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  • IMF sees no ‘acute’ pressures on Greece


    The International Monetary Fund says it sees no near-term “acute” financing pressures on Greece, despite a delay in the release of the next loan instalment under its international bailout.


    “We believe that Greece’s financing needs in the coming months can be met from the existing liquidity buffer. We see no acute financing pressure,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said at a news conference.

    The IMF said in statement earlier in the day that auditors from the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission had wrapped up their latest visit to Greece to review progress on the country’s economic program, without reaching a full agreement.

    Such audits determine whether or not Greece receives the next instalment of one billion euros ($A1.45 billion) in financial aid.

    The Washington-based IMF said that the discussions had been productive on the policies that could serve as a basis for completion of the review.

    It said good progress has been made, but a few issues remain outstanding.

    Talks would continue from the headquarters of the three creditor bodies and the auditors would return to Athens early in December, the statement said.

    Rice, speaking at a regularly scheduled news briefing, said that “the focus now is on reaching agreement on a set of policies that would facilitate the conclusion of this fifth review.”

    “The Greek authorities have a strong track record on meeting their fiscal target and are fully committed to those for next year,” he added.

    Greece lurched into recession when the global economic crisis hit in 2008 and by 2010, rising borrowing costs on its massive debt forced Athens to seek a bailout from the EU and IMF.

    Two bailouts, worth up to 240 billion euros plus about 100 billion euros in a debt write-off, helped stave off a feared break up of the euro and kept the Greek state financially afloat.

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  • Nats MP doesn’t regret dole comments


    A federal government MP is standing by his accusation that dole recipients are trying to “screw the system”.


    Ken O’Dowd reportedly told a community forum in his central Queensland electorate of Flynn this week: “You won’t get anyone on the dole coming to these sort of meetings, because they don’t care about the community, they care about themselves and how they can screw the system”.

    The MP’s remarks were made shortly before the announcement of a government review of welfare payments.

    Mr O’Dowd also told the forum about a recent conversation he had with billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart, in which she voiced her concerns about the welfare system.

    She told him that 60 per cent of Australians were on some sort of welfare payment, questioning whether they were all that “badly off”.

    Mr O’Dowd was not taking a backward step on Thursday as his remarks received wider coverage than a local newspaper.

    But he insisted his accusation was aimed at long-term unemployed people receiving the disability support pension who “deliberately try to be on the dole”.

    “People who are fit and able to work, they are the people who are trying to screw the system,” he said.

    Mr O’Dowd said he knew first-hand of people who preferred to be on the dole and who made unfair dismissal claims when they were sacked from jobs.

    “These are the sort of people they’ve got to crack down on.”

    The MP said welfare recipients in his electorate could take on jobs now done by seasonal workers and backpackers.

    Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews said Mr O’Dowd’s comments did not reflect the government’s position.

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  • Companies look to end password era


    The world’s most common online password was revealed this week to be “123456,” but tech boffins are working hard to ensure the password’s days are numbered.


    At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, several companies presented their visions of a future where people will use their bodies to verify their identities.

    So-called biometric technology broke into the mainstream in late 2013, when Apple put a fingerprint scanner on its newest iPhone, but CES took things a step further.

    New York company EyeLock, for example, showed off a computer mouse-sized iris scanner that plugs into the USB port of a computer.

    Pick the scanner up, put it the correct distance from your eye, and it will perform a scan to verify your identity and unlock the device.

    Because no two irises are the same, the company says the scanner will allow a false entry once every 1.5 million attempts. Scanning both irises extends that to once every 2.25 trillion attempts.

    Apple’s fingerprint scanner, by contrast, allows a false positive once in every 50,000 attempts, EyeLock says.

    Head of EyeLock marketing, Anthony Antolino, says the company is working towards a smaller model that could be embedded within computer cameras, smartphones and tablets.

    Meanwhile, Toronto-based company Bionym showed off a bracelet that uses a wearer’s heartbeat signature to verify their identity.

    Unlike fingerprint and iris recognition, the system doesn’t require the user to re-authenticate every time they wish to prove their identity.

    As long as the wearer keeps the wristband on, it provides constant authentication which is transmitted to devices via Bluetooth.

    While the heartbeat technology is in its early stages, Japanese firm Fujitsu has been working on a system of vein-recognition for several years.

    In Las Vegas the company showed off a payment system called PulseWallet that identifies a person by scanning the unique pattern of veins in their hand using near-infrared light.

    It then matches the pattern against an encrypted database of pre-registered users.

    According to Fujitsu, it will provide one false positive for every 1,250,000 attempts, portending a wallet-less future where in-store purchases are verified via palm scan.

    Biometric technology can’t come soon enough if research into the world’s most popular passwords, released this week by password management company SplashData, is to be believed.

    It found “123456” was most common.

    “Password”, usually number one, was second.

    Others in the top 10 included “abc123,” “111111,” and “qwerty” – the first six letters across the top row of a standard keyboard.

    Andrew Clouston, the Australian founder of the MOGOplus app, which provides access to a user’s varied login credentials via a single portal, says people baulk at the number of passwords they’re required to remember.

    Many end up using the same credentials across all of their accounts, he says.

    And though Clouston makes a living helping people manage their passwords, he predicts the writing is on the wall.

    “The heartbeat, vein and eye scanner tech from CES, coupled with what we’re already seeing with the iPhone fingerprint sensor, shows that the humble password’s days are numbered.”

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  • Warne to act as Aust’s T20 spin coach


    Shane Warne’s appointment as spin consultant in the build-up to Australia’s World Twenty20 campaign is a bonus for 20-year-old leggie James Muirhead.


    Cricket Australia announced on Thursday Warne would provide specialist coaching to the squad’s spinners in South Africa.

    The Australia T20 squad will assemble in South Africa on March 3 for a three-match series against the home side starting on March 9.

    Warne will join the squad in South Africa for the T20 series but won’t continue on with the Aussies to Bangladesh for the World T20.

    Australia’s first game in the tournament is against Pakistan in Mirpur on March 23.

    “We believe our national teams can really benefit from more specific skill-based coaching as and when it is needed,” Australia coach Darren Lehmann said.

    “This will mean that from time to time we will enlist the support of experts in their craft to work with our players.”

    Lehmann said spin bowling would be crucial to eighth-ranked Australia’s success in the tournament.

    “There’s no better person than Shane to help guide the spinners we select in that squad,” Lehmann said.

    “He was a gifted cricketer and remains passionate about spin bowling and seeing our players be the best that they can be.”

    Warne, 44, said he was thrilled with his new role.

    “I’m excited to be working with Australia’s spinners in South Africa,” he said.

    “I’m looking forward to helping them with some intense bowling preparation ahead of the World Twenty 20, where we’ll specifically work on tactics and mindset.”

    Muirhead has been named alongside spin-bowling allrounder Glenn Maxwell in Australia’s squad for their three-game T20 series against England starting on January 29 in Hobart.

    Despite the modest figures of 1-41 off seven overs in three BBL games for Melbourne Stars this summer, selectors have seen enough in the youngster’s loop and raw spin to suggest a future at international level.

    Muirhead says he has learnt a lot already in his five-game BBL career.

    “Definitely last year I was trying to get a wicket with every ball,” Muirhead told reporters this week.

    “But I’ve had a couple of sessions with Shane Warne and it’s all bowling to a plan (now).

    “It could be a three-over plan, or a three-ball plan.

    “Setting the batsman up for the delivery that you want to take the wicket with … so you really have a plan against each batsman and trying to execute that is my game.”

    Australia T20 skipper George Bailey said Warne, who has captained teams in the BBL and the Indian Premier League, will boost the side on many levels.

    “I’m thrilled to have him on board as a spin coach, but he brings so much more to the table,” Bailey said.

    “He’d be one of the leading thinkers on T20 in the world, tactically.”

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  • Li beats Bouchard to make third Melbourne final


    Li has now reached three finals at Melbourne Park in the last four years, having lost to Victoria Azarenka last year and Kim Clijsters in 2011.


    She also lost to Clijsters in the fourth round in 2012.

    “Last time was a little bit tough so I will try this time to make one more step,” Li said in a courtside interview.

    “I think after working with the coach, it’s not only about my technique, I’m playing much stronger on court… and more stable from the first point to the second point,” she added of her success at the season-opening grand slam.

    Bouchard was just the second Canadian player of either gender to make it to a grand slam semi-final in the Open Era, after Carling Bassett, who was a semi-finalist at the 1984 U.S. Open

    The 19-year-old, however, had trouble from the onset, letting the ball bounce in front of her on the opening serve due to the sun, before her first actual serve was into the wrong service box.

    Li wasted little time in bashing three backhand winners in the first game to break the young Canadian to love, held serve, then broke again to love to give her a handy 3-0 lead.

    Such was the world number four’s dominance, Li did not commit an unforced error until the fourth game and restricted Bouchard to three points in total in the first five.


    She continued to force Bouchard back behind the baseline, when rallies extended beyond three shots, but then temporarily lost concentration to allow the Canadian to win two games, before she sealed the first set in 28 minutes with a forehand volley.

    Bouchard began the second set with an ace – her first of the match – and while Li held two break points the Canadian appeared to be getting into a rhythm and she battled to hold serve in a game that lasted 11 minutes.

    Li’s first service game of the second set lasted a further 10 minutes as Bouchard attacked Li’s first serve, which had deserted her, with five deuce points before the Chinese belted a forehand out to give the 30th seed a 2-0 lead.

    The momentum swung again with Li rattling off three successive games, and six of the final eight, as she continued to be aggressive to set up a final against either Dominika Cibulkova or fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska.

    “Tough match of course in the final,” Li added of her potential final opponent.

    “I think both will fight because it’s one more step to take the trophy so we will see.”

    (Writing by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O’Brien)

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  • Injuries rife at Aussie Open despite shorter season


    At this year’s Australian Open, though, players were once more dropping like flies, denting the draws and leaving the physiotherapists at Melbourne Park severely overworked.


    The nine first-round retirements, eight men and one woman, equalled the record for the most retirements or walkovers in a grand slam event.

    Many of them, including the withdrawal of Palona Hercog of Slovenia after just one game, were clearly a result of a pre-existing injury.

    Others, like Czech Radek Stepanek, suffered an injury early in the match and were unable to finish.

    The WTA Tour ends in late October, giving the leading women nine weeks off, while the ATP Tour has a seven-week break after the conclusion of the ATP World Tour Finals in London in early November.

    The spate of retirements in Melbourne have led some to question whether players are not taking advantage of the longer break to rest their bodies but instead over-training in the off-season.

    It may not be as simple as that.

    Andy Murray, who famously uses the off-season to train hard in Miami, said there could be any number of reasons for a high number of injuries at this time of year.

    “There’s a big difference between someone having a muscular injury and twisting your ankle,” the Wimbledon champion said.

    “Twisting your ankle is bad luck. If there’s a lot of muscular sort of injuries and stuff, then that’s something different. That can be down to either not training hard enough or training too much.

    “Sometimes, if you’ve been in Europe for a long time and it’s freezing cold, coming to this heat, guys can get exhausted pretty quickly, muscles get tired faster.

    “When your muscles get tired, it puts pressure on other parts of your body.”


    The injuries continued into the second week in Melbourne as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova both suffered problems as their title chances bit the dust.

    Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said he thought it was most likely down to the difference between practice and competition.

    “All the players, you can ask them, if they practice for four hours, every day, for two months, then the first match they play, they’re going to be so sore, because competition is completely different,” he said.

    “They push themselves much more. Even though they feel they push themselves 100 percent in practice, that’s not true.

    “Stress plays a very important role in that. Because of the stress they also sometimes hit the ball in extreme positions, which can lead to injuries.”

    Murray, who did not play between September and late December after back surgery, agreed.

    “We push ourselves hard in training and in practice, but playing matches, you always will tend to push yourself that little bit harder,” he said.

    “No matter how much training you’ve done, you might have been training for four weeks in December, you can wake up after playing the first match and feel terrible just because you’re going that few percent harder.”

    For the past few years, Mouratoglou has taken his players to a training camp in Mauritius in December.

    The last month of the year is one of the few opportunities players have to work on technical changes to their game, which Mouratoglou said can be a problem in itself.

    “Every technical change, especially if you repeat it every day, can also bring an injury,” he said.

    “If you’re not used to working on a physical aspect, because during the year you cannot, and then suddenly you focus on it too much, then you can also have an injury.

    “There are 100 reasons to have an injury because you have a pre-season and you’re away from competition.

    “The off-season is the time to improve physical things but you also have to do it in a clever way, always step by step, always giving enough recovery.”

    (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O’Brien)

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