Gigginstown up for the Cup

first_img The Willie Mullins-trained Sir Des Champs, runner-up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, heads the trio, with Aintree’s Betfred Bowl winner First Lieutenant from Mouse Morris’s stable and Colm Murphy’s dual Grade One scorer Quito De La Roque completing the strong team. Gigginstown’s racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “All going well, the plan is for Sir Des Champs to run in the Punchestown Gold Cup. We were second at Cheltenham and you can’t change the result but we’ll hope for a good show at Punchestown.” Gigginstown House Stud are planning a powerful three-horse assault on the Bet Online With The Tote.com Punchestown Gold Cup at the County Kildare track on April 24. He added: “There’s a good chance that First Lieutenant will run as well. It’s been all good so far with him after Aintree and the horse will line up as long as he tells us he wants to run. “Quito De La Roque is likely to go for the race as well. We were happy enough with him at Aintree – he ran a very good race at his level and probably just wasn’t quite good enough there.” Gigginstown House Stud, owned by O’Leary’s brother Michael, are bidding for a first Irish owners’ championship this season and are currently around 200,000 euro ahead of JP McManus in the title race. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Carroll uncertain over future

first_img Carroll moved to Liverpool for £35 million as a replacement for Fernando Torres but the move never quite worked out, leading to a season-long loan at West Ham in the summer. The east Londoners have the option to make the deal permanent for an undisclosed fee, although reports this week suggest they will reduce their offer. Asked whether he would stay if West Ham put the right money on the table, Carroll said: “We will have to wait and see. It is obviously a great club and I do not see why not.” Press Association Carroll has also been linked with a move to former club Newcastle and the striker is not sure what the future holds past the end of the season. “I have just got to wait and see, really,” he said. “We’ll see what happens at the end of the season. Obviously I don’t know what is happening so we will just have to wait and see. “It has been great here and every minute has been fantastic. The lads have been great, the gaffer has been great and the fans are unbelievable.” Carroll netted his sixth West Ham goal on Saturday to earn a hard-fought point at Southampton. The England international saw his driven strike deflect in off Steven Davis, levelling just seven minutes after Gaston Ramirez had given Saints the lead. “It was a bit windy,” he said. “The ball was all over the place but we came here and got a result. In the first half I was getting blocked off and there was a few players around me. I was talking to the referee a bit but it was a difficult day to me. “With my goal, I just had to hit the target. Obviously it got a little bit of a deflection and went in, which sometimes happens. I have had a few injuries over the years and I am just getting over them now so it is good to get on a run of games and goals. “I had a few chances and I think we could have won the game in the end. We are disappointed not to but happy we got the point.” center_img Andy Carroll is open to joining West Ham permanently but admits to being unsure where his future lies.last_img read more

Lampard confident over Euro aims

first_imgFrank Lampard is confident Chelsea will secure a return to the Champions League next season at the end of another turbulent campaign at Stamford Bridge. Lampard is out of contract at the end of the season and has five games remaining – six if Chelsea advance to the Europa League final by beating Basle on Thursday night – to surpass Tambling’s mark, but the England international is focused on collective, rather than personal glory. He added: “If we can keep our rhythm with the way we’re playing and stay positive, the big games that are coming we need to try and win. “If we don’t it will go to the wire, but I believe we’ve got the strong-minded players to go and do it.” Chelsea play Manchester United, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Everton in their remaining four league games and currently hold a one-point lead over fourth-placed Arsenal, having played a game fewer, and a three-point advantage over Spurs. Lampard began the Swansea contest on the bench, but came on for dead-leg victim Ramires midway through the first half, set up Oscar’s opener and converted a penalty for his first goal in eight appearances. As well as drawing him closer to Tambling’s tally, Lampard celebrated his 400th Chelsea appearance in the Premier League and 800th career appearance by becoming only the second player, alongside Andy Cole, to score against 38 different teams in the Premier League. Lampard, who paid tribute to Tambling, was relieved to net the spot-kick after failing to score a penalty at Manchester City in February, and he said: “I missed the last one against Manchester City, so you think about it a bit more, but I felt I’d score because of the momentum of coming on when the game started to change.” Press Associationcenter_img The 34-year-old midfielder’s 201st Chelsea goal – a penalty which saw him move within one of the watching Bobby Tambling’s club goalscoring record – completed a 2-0 victory over Swansea on Sunday to take last season’s Champions League winners to third in the Barclays Premier League. “What’s more important is for the club to qualify for next season’s Champions League, and we’ve also got a Europa League final to try to get to and win,” Lampard told Chelsea TV. “That’s why (the Swansea win) was crucial, and so is Manchester United next week.” last_img read more

Cardiff sign Medel in record deal

first_imgCardiff have confirmed the club-record signing of Chile international Gary Medel from Sevilla on a four-year deal, subject to him getting a work permit. “We’re delighted to have secured the services of Gary – a tenacious and intelligent international midfielder,” manager Malky Mackay told his club’s official website. “Having had two seasons of regular football in La Liga – with 60-odd international caps to his name and three appearances at a World Cup – his experience will be an invaluable asset to our squad. “He’s played in a number of Boca v River Plate derbies in Argentina – one of the world’s biggest derby matches – and I’ve no doubt that his background and pedigree will complement our midfield group in the Barclays Premier League.” Medel started his career with Universidad Catolica before moving to Boca Juniors in 2009 and then Sevilla in 2011. He will join up with his country tomorrow ahead of a friendly against Iraq in Denmark on Wednesday, before returning to a Cardiff squad boasting other new signings in the shape of Caulker, John Brayford, Andreas Cornelius and Simon Moore. The newly-promoted Barclays Premier League club announced the move for the 26-year-old, a day after Medel played for Sevilla against Manchester United. The midfielder has top-level experience having played for Chile at the 2010 World Cup and the club’s confirmation that his fee is a record one means he has cost more than the £8million they recently paid to Tottenham for Steven Caulker. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Cattermole confident of survival

first_img “All we can do is take confidence from that game,” said Cattermole. “The manager said it is the best performance he has seen from his Sunderland side – we controlled the game throughout. The message from the manager is that if we play like that for the rest of the season we will have no worries.” Former Wigan midfielder Cattermole was making his first start since being sent off in a 1-0 defeat at Hull on November 2 and the 25-year-old feels that the strength in depth required to survive a relegation battle is evident at Sunderland. “We have got a good squad of players,” he added. “Obviously we are bottom of the league but there is a lot of quality. The gaffer has rotated quite a bit and I think he is just trying to find his best XI. “We have got some great players on the bench today (Saturday), we have just got to keep going and the lads have got to be patient like I have been.” Following Steve Clarke’s sacking from West Brom on Saturday evening, Sam Allardyce is the only manager of a club in the bottom five who was in charge at the beginning of the season. He saw his side pass up the opportunity to beat the bottom side at home and put some breathing space between the Hammers and the relegation zone. Press Association Poyet replaced Paolo Di Canio at the Stadium of Light in September but, despite improvements in performance, Sunderland will be bottom of the Barclays Premier League on Christmas Day after failing to find a winning goal despite creating the better chances in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at fellow strugglers West Ham. The former Brighton boss said after the game that it was the first time he had seen his Sunderland side play and Cattermole revealed that Poyet believes similar displays for the remainder of the campaign will see the Black Cats safe. But Allardyce, who is still waiting to unleash club-record signing Andy Carroll as the England striker works his way back from a heel injury, knows where his side needs to improve. “It wouldn’t have mattered how we played – good, bad or indifferent – if we’d got the points, but we couldn’t turn it around and find that bit of quality when needed,” he said. “On the other side of it, our magnificent defence was there again and it’s the backbone of our team. That is eight cleans sheets in 16 matches. We only got 11 all season last year and finished 10th, so nobody needs to tell me what the problem is and always has been – scoring a goal.” Only Cardiff and Sunderland have scored fewer than the 13 goals West Ham have bagged so far this year and Allardyce knows the slim margins of victory can be the difference between survival and relegation. “It’s not happening for us at the minute,” he added. “We got one side of it right and now we need to keep pressing on to get the other side right in terms of scoring goals. If we score and get a clean sheet, then we’ll win games. “We’ve only won three of our eight clean sheets and we only needed to put another two on top of that and we’d be in the top ten and not the bottom four. That’s how close it is. “We’re small margins away from getting up that table. We’d have all loved three points, but in the end I thought it was a fair result.” Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has found the blueprint that can save the Black Cats from relegation this season, according to midfielder Lee Cattermole.last_img read more

Magpie links spur on Hammers

first_img Midfielder Mark Noble is once again expected to captain the Hammers with regular skipper, and another ex-Newcastle man, Kevin Nolan serving the last of a four-game ban. The 26-year-old Noble scored the second goal at Cardiff and believes everyone at the club is pulling together to make sure they survive in the Premier League. “At Cardiff, you could see from the way the lads worked, and with Kevin and James Collins travelling with us, that we’re all together,” he told the club’s official website. “The whole squad was happy for each other and that’s what you need when you’re in the position that we’re in. It was nice to get back on the scoresheet. I enjoy getting forward but obviously the position I play in means those opportunities are quite rare.” The returning Carroll, who played his first minutes of the season after appearing as a late substitute, set up the decisive goal and Noble is delighted to have the England striker back in action. “You could see in the pictures of the celebration that Andy was buzzing,” he added. “It was like he was holding a little boy – he just held me up with one arm and put the other arm in the air. It was a nice picture and nice for him to come back, set up a goal and be involved in a win. Hopefully we can have many more of them.” McDonald played for hometown club Newcastle at the start of his career whilst West Ham record signing Andy Carroll, who has returned to fitness in time to feature in the weekend’s Barclays Premier League clash, also began his footballing life at St James’ Park. Hammers’ boss Sam Allardyce had an eight-month spell in charge of Newcastle before being sacked in January 2008 and McDonald admits it is always nice to perform well against former employers. West Ham’s Newcastle connections will inspire them in search of a win at the Magpies’ expense on Saturday, according to assistant manager Neil McDonald. “If you played for a football club and you are then playing against them you want to get one over on them, don’t you?” he said. “I’m 48 now and I played for them in the 80s but I always want to get one over on Newcastle. “It is Andy’s hometown club of course but at the end of the day we have got another 10 players who will be involved in the game, will be wanting to beat Newcastle and everyone will be doing their best to do that.” After last weekend’s 2-0 win at Cardiff lifted West Ham out of the relegation zone, another three points against Newcastle would represent the first back-to-back league wins for Allardyce’s side since they returned to the top flight. Newcastle travel to Upton Park having lost their last four fixtures in all competitions and, although McDonald is targeting victory, he is adamant West Ham will not underestimate Alan Pardew’s side. “They’ve had a couple of bad results, but having said all of that they’re still in the top half of the league,” he said. “They’re still a very, very good team who’ve got some exciting, dangerous players. We’ve done our homework on them, we’ve got a game plan for them, we know their strengths and weaknesses and we have to exploit those weaknesses. “It goes without saying that it would be six points out of two games and that’s certainly what we’re trying to do.” Press Associationlast_img read more

Run-in will be key to Martinez plan

first_img The Toffees have confirmed they have extended their shirt agreement with Thai beer company Chang, which is now worth more than £16million over the next three years. The deal is dwarfed by the agreements secured by the likes of Arsenal and neighbours Liverpool, at £30million and £20million a year respectively. Press Association Everton manager Roberto Martinez insists how the team performs in the final 10 matches will have more of an effect on his summer transfer plans than the club’s new record sponsorship deal.center_img In terms of Premier League deals Everton’s Chang sponsorship puts them about eighth in terms of the annual income it generates, just behind Newcastle and on a par with Aston Villa, Fulham and Sunderland. But Martinez said their league finish – and whether they can secure European qualification – will have more bearing on his transfer plans. “Obviously the sponsorship deal with Chang is a relationship which has been over 10 years and you don’t get these relationships in Premier League clubs and we value that,” he said. “To be able to sign a new three-year deal is exciting for both parties but it doesn’t change anything (on transfers). “We are in that key moment of the campaign with 30 points to play for and every player is desperate to have a big say and that is the only thing that matters. “Whatever happens in the summer will be the next step but many of the decisions will depend on how we do in the next 10 games so you can imagine the focus goes into those games.” last_img read more

Hughes keen on Redmond

first_imgStoke boss Mark Hughes has admitted he is interested in signing Norwich winger Nathan Redmond. Press Association Liverpool winger Oussama Assaidi, who spent last season on loan at the Britannia Stadium, is Hughes’ first choice but the Welshman admitted last week the deal had “gone cold”. Redmond, 20, joined Norwich from Birmingham last summer and has made 40 appearances for the Canaries, scoring once. center_img Hughes said of the England Under-21 international on Sky Sports News: “There is interest there – he’s a good young player and a player we would like. “But he’s not our player, he’s Norwich’s player, and they are obviously well within their rights to retain him. “He’s under contract to them and there is nothing moving at the moment. So we’ll just have to bide our time maybe.” last_img read more

Ideye: Goals will come

first_img The Baggies’ £10million buy has failed to score in the Barclays Premier League and has netted just once since his record summer move from Dynamo Kiev. Ideye has struggled for form and fitness, making just three league starts this season, but played all of the Baggies’ 1-0 win over Aston Villa on Saturday. Press Association Striker Brown Ideye has admitted he has struggled to adapt at West Brom, but revealed he has made a goal promise to his son. They go to QPR on Saturday following just their second win in 10 league games with Ideye likely to lead the line again and the 26-year-old insisted he was getting better, while conceding he had made a slow start to his Albion career. “I would say I have been working very hard,” he said. “The gaffer (Alan Irvine) said he wanted me to work hard and at times it has been difficult for me to adapt to the system the team plays. “I have to adjust to what I have to do when the team is playing, but right now I think I’m there and I am just working hard now. “I was always hungry to start for West Brom and I always give my best. “Sometimes it’s difficult but I have to keep on pushing and working hard for the team. “I am getting closer to my best. I have had a lot of things to deal with so I just have to be focused and take it one game at a time.” The Nigeria international’s four-year-old son, Brown Junior, watched the derby win at The Hawthorns and Ideye has vowed to score against Rangers for him. “He always wanted to see the dressing rooms so I had to take him in to see it,” he said. “He is happy we won, but he was disappointed I didn’t score – so I have told him I will score next time.” The pressure had been building on head coach Alan Irvine before Albion’s victory over Villa and Ideye was under no illusions of its importance. “I knew how important the game was for us as players and also for the fans, so I am very happy we won because I couldn’t imagine not winning,” he said. “We knew how important it was and we’re all happy to have the result and I am happy for the team and for myself.” last_img read more

Pardew wants cool heads in derby

first_img The Magpies head into Sunday’s pre-Christmas showdown at St James’ Park desperately looking to avoid a fourth successive defeat at the hands of their arch-rivals and intent on righting the wrongs of back-to-back 3-0 home defeats at the hands of the Black Cats with a victory. Pardew’s current squad, despite its cosmopolitan nature, has the most sizeable home-grown contingent the club has been able to boast for some time, and while the manager insists that will not necessarily be a factor in the game, he admits he may have to instruct one or two of the locals to curb their enthusiasm. Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has ordered Geordie boy Steven Taylor not to allow the derby atmosphere to get to him as he plots victory over Sunderland. He said: “If I’m honest, I don’t think it’s a factor in the game, but I will be looking at one or two who maybe get emotionally involved. “Probably the one who worries me the most is Steven Taylor. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he plays like that sometimes in this fixture. “I’ve spoken to him about it. I think this time around he will be a lot calmer and if he plays, he will be in better shape.” Central defender Taylor has been a target for some Sunderland fans ever since he offered a less than complimentary assessment of their squad in a pre-derby interview in October 2012, although he appears to revel in role of pantomime villain. However, both sets of fans and the two clubs have worked hard to try to take some of the poison out of a fixture which has too often boiled over off the pitch in recent times. Bridges have been built in the wake of the MH17 Malaysia Airlines disaster in which Newcastle supporters John Alder and Liam Sweeney were among 298 passengers and crew to lose their lives, with Black Cats fans raising more than £33,000 for a memorial. Pardew, who revealed his players will not be bussed into the ground as they have been for recent derbies, said: “We are trying to get away from all that unsavoury stuff. “They have come across the bridge from Sunderland and you have to pay credit to them for what happened over John Alder and Liam Sweeney. “I would like to think we would meet them there and treat this as exactly what it is – a football match. I’ve tried to follow the pattern of the security, the police and fans and everything said online. “We won’t take a bus to the game this time, we will turn up as normal and hopefully it will be a fantastic football match, although the passion will be no less, the intensity will be no less, which makes it unique in itself, more than any game I’ve ever played in or managed. “Therefore, whatever the result, we will shake hands.” John O’Shea will run out into the white heat of the Tyne-Wear derby having already had a taste of the fierce rivalry this week. The Sunderland skipper will lead his team out at St James’ Park on Sunday looking for an unprecedented fourth successive victory over neighbours Newcastle in a game which could go a long way to determining how enjoyable Christmas is for the respective clubs’ supporters. But O’Shea and his team-mates have already been left in little doubt as to what is expected by both sets of fans after their traditional hospital visits on both Wearside and Tyneside in the last few days. The 33-year-old Republic of Ireland international said: “We went on the hospital visits and it’s brilliant seeing the kids in their particular colours whatever hospital we were in, some Sunderland, some Newcastle. “We went to the RVI [Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary] to the kids’ part and the cancer wards, and the cheer that some of the fans get from seeing us, but also the grief we get as well is brilliant and it puts a big smile on our faces and makes you appreciate what you have in your family when they are happy and healthy, especially at a time like this. “It could be a kid who’s gone through a terrible time and had some operations and what have you, and he is just looking at you and saying, ‘Look, get a win’, or a kid saying, ‘I hope you lose at the weekend’, whatever the case may be. “It’s a very humbling experience. It’s one of those things that does make you realise that football is very important, but there are also some other very important things in life as well.” Press Associationlast_img read more