DAVIS CUP boss Garry Cahill has provided his team with a massive boost ahead of next month's Dublin showdown with Luxembourg.
As part of the preparation for his inaugural tie in the Ireland hot seat, Cahill has set up a practice contest against a crack Swedish selection on the Sunday prior to the Europe-Africa Zone Group Two encounter arranged for David Lloyd Riverview on March 4-6.
The February 27 fixture against the visiting outfit will replicate the schedule for the first and second days of a Davis Cup tie with two singles and one doubles being crammed into the afternoon programme.
It will take place on the same medium-to-slow paced court at the Clonskeagh venue where Cahill's line-up of Conor Niland, James McGee, Colin O'Brien and James Cluskey will square up to the Gilles Muller-anchored Grand Duchy. Admission will be free.
Riccardo Ricco's team Vacansoleil threatened to sack the Italian cyclist yesterday if allegations he performed his own blood transfusion prove correct.
"The team does not have enough knowledge of the relevant facts to make a considered judgment on this matter," a statement read.
"The team has a zero-tolerance policy concerning drug use. All riders and staff who violate the internal and UCI doping rules are fired on the spot.
"The team has now started an investigation of the facts."
Ricco, who returned from a 20-month ban last March after being caught doping while in second place at the 2008 Tour de France, is seriously ill in hospital in the Italian city of Modena, having been admitted on Monday.
A hospital statement said his condition was improving but that the prognosis was still unclear.
A source with knowledge of the situation said the rider had risked his life by trying to perform the blood transfusion on himself and the Italian anti-doping body started disciplinary action against him on Tuesday.
Self-transfusions are banned in Italian sport.
Gloucestershire have pulled off a coup by signing legendary Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for the next two domestic Twenty20 campaigns.
He will join them up after playing for Sri Lanka at the World Cup and then Kochi in the Indian Premier League.