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Friday 21 July 2017

In brief: Chelsea close to Courtois deal

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has confirmed that a deal is in place with Belgian club Genk for the transfer of teenage goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

The Belgian club said Chelsea's offer for Courtois was "by far the largest bid'' they have ever received for a player, and Villas-Boas explained the situation after yesterday afternoon's 1-0 victory for Chelsea at Portsmouth where an own goal by former Blues' defender gave the visitors victory in what was the first chance to see Villas-Boas' team in action.

"There is an agreement between the two clubs,'' said Villas-Boas. "It is also subject to personal agreements and from then we will decide what is best for him.''

Courtois, 19, is a 6ft 6ins goalkeeper who was first choice for Genk as they won the Belgian league last season. He also received a first call-up to the senior Belgium squad.

North Koreans in doping scandal

Five North Korean players tested positive for steroids at the women's World Cup in Germany, in football's biggest doping scandal at a major tournament in 17 years.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that after two players were caught during the tournament earlier this month, FIFA tested the rest of the North Korean squad and found that three more tested positive.

The last doping case at a major event came at the men's 1994 World Cup in the United States, when Diego Maradona was kicked out after testing positive for stimulants.

Colombia's reserve goalkeeper Yineth Varon has been suspended for failing an out-of-competition test just before the World Cup in the wake of undergoing hormonal treatment.

FIFA has already met with a North Korean delegation and heard arguments that the steroids were accidentally taken with traditional Chinese medicines based on musk glands to treat players who had been struck by lightning on June 8 during a training camp.

The case will now be taken up by FIFA's disciplinary committee.

On the field substitute Marie Hammarstrom hit a superb late winner as Sweden beat France 2-1 to take third place in Germany.

Sweden had taken a 29th-minute lead through Lotta Schelin before Elodie Thomis fired an equaliser for France after 56 minutes. Japan face the United States in the final in Frankfurt this afternoon.

Sandro injury blow for Spurs

Tottenham midfielder Sandro is expected to be out of action for three months after undergoing knee surgery Friday night.

The 22-year-old returned to London earlier this week after suffering the injury on international duty with Brazil on Monday and looks likely to miss the first two months of the new season. The injury could further strengthen Spurs' already fierce resolve to hang on to Luka Modric, who is believed to have been the subject of two bids from Chelsea.

Spurs' pre-season tour of South Africa started with a 1-0 defeat as George Lebese scored a stoppage-time winner for Kaizer Chiefs at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane yesterday.

McCoist bags first win as boss

Ally McCoist celebrated his first victory as Rangers manager with a convincing friendly defeat of Linfield at Windsor Park.

McCoist, who inherited the job from Walter Smith at the end of last season, endured three defeats on the recent pre-season tour of Germany but will have been buoyed by a strong showing in Belfast.

A strong Rangers starting XI, including Northern Ireland internationals Steven Davis and David Healy on familiar territory, started well and scored the first goal of the McCoist era after 20 minutes through new signing Juan Manuel Ortiz. Michael Carvill equalised, but Steven Naismith, Nikica Jelavic and Kane Hemmings struck in the second half to seal the win.

McCoist, meanwhile, has confirmed that he has agreed a fee with Aston Villa for former Ibrox defender Carlos Cuellar and reiterated his interest in Bursaspor strike Kenny Miller, another ex-Gers player.

"A fee has been agreed between the clubs and in an ideal world we'll get the deal done and get Carlos up here to join us,'' said McCoist.

On the issue of Miller, who left Rangers for Turkey in January, McCoist said: "That's a possibility. We haven't been in touch with Bursaspor but I wouldn't rule out anything at this stage.

"We are certainly looking to bring in three or four players in to the squad before facing Hearts next Saturday.''

AEK in late move for Gudjohnsen

West Ham could lose out on the signing of Eidur Gudjohnsen to AEK Athens. Reports from Greece yesterday claim the 32-year-old forward, who underwent a medical at West Ham on Thursday, has been offered a two-year contract by AEK.

The Hammers are understood to have offered only a one-year deal to Gudjohnsen, who is a free agent following his release by Stoke. New West Ham boss Sam Allardyce wanted to add the Iceland international to an attack which has been shorn of Demba Ba, Robbie Keane and Victor Obinna after the club's relegation.

The indication of AEK's interest comes less than 24 hours after Hammers striker Carlton Cole turned down a £6m transfer to Stoke.

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