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Chronic injuries plaguing stars

There'll always be niggling injuries in sport. But, right now, some are more worrying than others.

With a Premier League title in their sights, Manchester City need their top goalscorer Sergio Aguero (pictured) back in the squad. But with the World Cup looming, the Argentina striker is worried about risking another premature comeback from the hamstring injury that has plagued him since January. "I cannot do it in a hurry," he said.

There was bad news for the Masters, as Tiger Woods, who underwent microdiscectomy surgery on a pinched nerve in his back this week, has been forced to announce that he won't be able to play in this year's event. The surgery is to sort out back spasms which have been making this a frustrating year for the 38-year-old, who's never missed a Masters. Jack Nicklaus' record haul of 18 major titles must seem ever out of reach for the man who has 14 majors.

Thankfully, Brian O'Driscoll seems to have shaken off the effects of the neck injury he picked up in the Munster clash and did not suffer any concussion. Leinster will be needing their talisman for the formidable task of beating Toulon away.

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Representatives of Golden Boy Promotions, one of the biggest boxing event promoters in the world, will be at ringside in Belfast on Friday for the WBC world super bantamweight title eliminator between local boy Carl Frampton (unbeaten in 17 bouts) and Mexico's former two-time world champion Hugo Cazares (who's KOed 27 opponents in his 33 wins). The fight at the Odyssey sold out in just 10 days. And the Americans believe mild-mannered Frampton, who made his Late Late Show debut last week, is star material. Although Cazares has not been stopped since 1999, promoter Barry McGuigan believes Frampton has the skill and power to make history. "He'll win explosively," he said.

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What a difference a year makes. With 17 points between them and six games to be played, it's unusual to find Liverpool dominating Manchester United. A casual look at the stats reveals a series of staggering truths behind the change in fortunes. United are destined to finish outside the top four for the first time in the Premier League era and are on target to beat their worst-ever points total (75) in the Premier League. At Anfield, Luis Suarez has become the club's top goalscorer in the Premier League, beating Robbie Fowler's 28. If he scores three more, the man who missed the first five games of the season through suspension will beat the record of 31 held by Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo for a 38-game season. While Man United struggle, Liverpool have scored before half-time in their last 22 Premier League games, another all-time record. Where will it end?

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My colleague Eugene Magee notes that the GAA deal with Sky for America could be great for the Irish diaspora. He need have no fears. The American market has been the subject of high-level discussions and secret negotiations.


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