Wednesday 25 April 2018

In brief: Trap shakes up team for Scots

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni plans to make four changes to his side for today's Carling Nations Cup match against Scotland.

The Italian yesterday named his intended team for the final match of the four-nation tournament in Dublin but said he may review his line-up after another training session. Damien Delaney, Kevin Foley, Seamus Coleman and Keith Treacy are the players to make way following Tuesday's 5-0 thrashing of Northern Ireland.

Defender Darren O'Dea has won his battle for fitness after an ankle injury while Birmingham's Keith Fahey, who joined up with the squad after the Northern Ireland game, slots into midfield.

Wolves winger Stephen Hunt comes off the bench to play on the left while Portsmouth's Liam Lawrence replaces Coleman on the right. Robbie Keane again captains the side and will partner Simon Cox.

Ireland and Scotland won their opening two matches of the competition and the winner at the Aviva Stadium will claim the trophy. "Obviously we will play for a good result but we do have one or two injured players," Trapattoni said. "I hope and I think it can be a beautiful game."

Ireland (probable team): Given, McShane, O'Dea, Kelly, Ward, Lawrence, Andrews, Fahey, Hunt, Keane, Cox.

Fergie in Old Trafford ban

Alex Ferguson has been told to stay away from Old Trafford when Peterborough take on Huddersfield in today's League One play-off final.

The order comes from his son, and Peterborough manager, Darren Ferguson -- who claims his father is a jinx. Ferguson Snr watched their semi-final first-leg defeat at MK Dons but steered clear when they won the second leg 2-0 to go through 4-3 on aggregate.

And the Posh are taking no chances as they bid to secure promotion back to the Championship. "Our chairman is the same, he's told his dad to stay away as well," Ferguson Jnr said. "We think they are both jinxes. He can watch it on the television."

Play-off glory for Stevenage

Stevenage manager Graham Westley hailed a "sensational achievement" from his side after they gained promotion into the third tier of English football with victory over Torquay in the League Two play-off final at Old Trafford.

John Mousinho's 20-yard strike in the 41st minute ensured Stevenage secured a second successive promotion in their first year as a Football League club. "It's a fantastic feeling," said Westley. "A league championship is special, but when you win a play-off final it is great."

Kroenke nears total control

Stan Kroenke's controlling interest in Arsenal has been officially ratified by the Premier League and the American has given other shareholders a fortnight to accept his unconditional offer for their holdings.

Kroenke currently owns 66.06 per cent of the Gunners following the purchase of shares from former directors Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and the state of the late Danny Fiszman. Arsenal's second largest shareholder with 27.37 per cent, Alisher Usmanov, has already insisted he will not sell to Kroenke, as have the Arsenal Supporters' Trust, who own some of the remaining shares.

Dobbie targets more final joy

Swansea midfielder Stephen Dobbie will hope to use his Championship play-off experience and inflict heartache on Reading's Irish stars, Shane Long, Noel Hunt and Ian Harte, in tomorrow's Wembley final.

The Scot was allowed out on loan to Blackpool last February, whom he duly helped clinch Wembley success in a thrilling showpiece against Cardiff. And Dobbie can draw comparisons between the Blackpool side of last May and the Swans set-up.

"The gaffer (Brendan Rodgers) is fantastic and I'm sure you've all seen the videos of Ian Holloway, he's just a character the same as the gaffer," Dobbie said.

"There are similarities with the team spirit as well, it shows when we go away on activity days. I wouldn't say we're favourites. They've been on a fantastic run."

Houllier future in the balance

Aston Villa will assess the results of final medical tests undergone yesterday by Gerard Houllier to determine whether the manager can return to his post.

Houllier was sidelined from his duties for the final month of last season after suffering a heart problem. Villa's medical staff will study the test results over the next few days before a decision on Houllier's future is made.

Caretaker manager Gary McAllister has maintained that Houllier wants to return to Villa and has been making plans for pre-season training and next season while recuperating. But Villa owner Randy Lerner will have the ultimate say on whether he feels Houllier is fit enough to return to work.

Bale reveals Olympic hopes

Gareth Bale has put himself on a collision course with the Welsh FA after he declared that he would like to represent Great Britain at next year's Olympics. Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are unwilling to allow their players to take part in the football competition at the London Games.

That leaves England as the only country willing to give their players permission to turn out for Team GB -- a position that Bale is unhappy with. "I want to play in the Olympics. I think it would be a great experience," he said.

"You see it with the British and Irish Lions in the rugby, they come together as a unit and play against other countries. It's great and there's no reason why that can't happen with the football."

Sunday Indo Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport