Coronavirus crisis sees ‘Premier League clubs shun’ China pre-season tours

Premier League clubs will reportedly shun pre-season tours to Asia amid the coronavirus outbreak.

A number of sides often make the trip to the Far East in preparation for a new campaign with visits to China, Malaysia and Singapore commonplace.

The coronavirus, which has now hit plenty of countries around the world, is believed to have been first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

There have been a reported 80,000 cases of the virus in China with over 3,000 dead in the world’s most populated country.

And The Sun claim that the majority of Premier League clubs have ruled out the Far East as a destination they will visit this summer.

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It’s reported that of the 14 clubs who responded to requests, only one side did not rule out a trip to the Far East.

The Premier League have written to all 20 clubs in the division with the latest guidelines on dealing with coronavirus.

League chiefs are in regular contact with the government’s health experts, though fixtures are currently unaffected.

That’s in comparison to Italy’s top division Serie A, where games have been postponed or played behind closed doors.

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Liverpool released a statement on Thursday outlining their coronavirus plans, including no matchday mascots.

While in the Championship, coronavirus is causing havoc with Neil Harris’ plans for Cardiff City’s preparations for next season.

The Bluebirds were planning on a pre-season camp in Portugal but have had to put everything on hold for now.

Harris said: “I like to be organised and pre-season is a hot topic for us on the training ground.

“We need to find fixtures and, if we can’t travel abroad, then we will have to look at a different way of doing our pre-season.

“Planning is key to that and I want to be as well prepared and organised as possible.

“If you want good opposition, and to involve your fans, then you need to organise things as soon as possible.

“Ideally, for me, we would have done it last week. We had identified a training complex in Portugal, but that is now on the back burner.”

  • Premier League
  • Coronavirus

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England dumped out of T20 World Cup after semi-final cancellation

Heather Knight has complained that England were robbed of their chance to reach the T20 World Cup final.

England were farcically dumped out of the tournament yesterday after their semi-final with India was washed out – following torrential rain in Sydney.

Instead of the ICC factoring in autumnal storms and booking in a reserve day, the 2009 winners were forced to exit due to their second-place finish in the group stage.

Skipper Knight was philosophical, after she had resigned to the deluge, but felt the dream to play in front of 90,000 and Katy Perry at the MCG was stolen from her team.

“There was no chance of us getting out there,” Knight bemoaned. “The weather's cost us. It's sad for the tournament.

“We didn't have a chance to fight for a place in that final. We had that chance taken away from us. There was not a lot we could do.

“You put in a lot of hard work, you want to have the chance to showcase your skills and show you can perform on the biggest stage, in knockout games in World Cups."

Stuart Broad added on Instagram : “Why no reserve day ICC? Seems sensible.” The comment was accompanied by another which included two thumb downs.

Opener Danni Wyatt simply tweeted: “Gutted.”

Australia, who were in the same boat as England, had made a last-minute plea with the ICC to add in a reserve day.

But were quickly told that it "would have extended the length of the event, which is not feasible” – with the final on Sunday.

Cricket’s rule-makers will now have to decide whether to make a U-turn and schedule reserve days for the men’s T20 World Cup later this year, with none currently on the calendar.

Knight is hopeful the ICC have taken note and her side are the last to fall foul of the red tape. She said “It's the rules everyone signed up to.

“You hope now there's going to be a rule change moving forward.

“We had a quick turnaround in our last World Cup and if it meant we were going to play we wouldn't have an issue with it. But those are the rules unfortunately and there was no sort of room for wiggle.”

England effectively couldn’t qualify for the showpiece event at the MCG after their opening-round loss to South Africa.

A result Knight deeply regrets: “We lost that first game against South Africa which ultimately cost us.

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Government send coronavirus warning to racing fans attending Cheltenham Festival

The UK government have urged racing fans to stay away from next week’s Cheltenham Festival if they are experiencing symptoms associated with coronavirus.

This year’s edition of the famous festival begins on Tuesday with plenty of fans expected to flock to the racecourse across the four days.

However, those that have travelled through high-risk countries or been in contact with anyone who has are being urged to not attend.

Coronavirus is spreading throughout the UK and has already stopped plenty of sporting events around the world.

A public health notice has been place on the British Horseracing Authority’s administration site.

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It reads: "Do not travel to the Festival if: – You have any of the following symptoms – a cough, a high temperature or shortness of breath AND – You have been to or transited through the high-risk countries, or been in contact with anyone that has, in the last 14 days.

"To protect yourself and others please do not travel and call NHS 111 (GB) or HSE 112 (Republic of Ireland) for expert advice.

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"These measures are being taken in order for us to safeguard everyone's health and well-being during the current public health situation.

"Thank you for your understanding. For more details, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus ."

Cheltenham have sourced extra paper towels and antiseptic gel while taking on extra staff to support cleaning efforts.

Ian Renton, regional director of Cheltenham Racecourse, said: "We're working closely with the Department of Health to maximise hygiene facilities at the course.

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“We are looking to improve it where we can and hygiene is at the centre of what we are doing.

“Otherwise it's full-steam ahead."

Cheltenham Festival takes place for four days, with Friday’s Gold Cup the most prestigious race of the week.

Race prize money comes second only to the Grand National with the Cheltenham Festival having originated back in 1860.

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Former Chelsea star reveals one Billy Gilmour concern after Liverpool performance

Former Chelsea right-back Glen Johnson hopes Billy Gilmour’s performance against Liverpool was not a one-off and just built on adrenaline. Gilmour, 18, played a starring role in Chelsea’s midfield as the Blues beat Liverpool 2-0 in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge. It was just the young Scot’s second start for the first team.

Johnson was working as a pundit for the BBC on the match and says he had not seen Gilmour play before.

And now the pundit is hopeful Gilmour’s performance was a true reflection of his ability.

“I just hope that performance wasn’t because of adrenaline,” Johnson said on talkSPORT.

“I just hope that is how he can perform.

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“We see the team sheet [before the match] and we were all like ‘Who’s the kid?’.

“No one had heard of him and obviously seen him play, so naturally you’re watching him more because you don’t get into Chelsea’s first team at 18 unless you deserve your chance.

“I watched him in the warm up and he looked tiny and then we see a photo of him and he looks about 12.

“[But] he looked like he had been playing there for years.

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“You can tell how good the Chelsea players think he is because they were giving him the ball in tight areas that could be deemed as a risky pass, but they clearly believed that he could deal with the situation.

“They trusted him and they know him better than we do and they’ve obviously seen a lot in training to be able to do this.”

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard is a huge fan of Gilmour and says he has proved he is ready for a regular first-team place.

“I’ve got absolute trust in Billy,” Lampard said.

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“I remember when he first came in against Sheffield United, we drew the game and people questioned this kid who looks like a 15-year-old. I remember someone individually saying that to me.

“But I’ve no problem with him because if he’s small in stature he’s huge in personality, and also huge in talent.

“For me, for a midfield player I have lots of questions.

“Do you want to receive the ball in all positions, in all moments? Yes, he does. Do you want to make angles, can you pick the right pass? Yes, he generally does. Will you put your foot in? Yes, he does.

“Billy showed today that he’s absolutely comfortable at this level. If he can play like he played tonight, he can get himself in and around the team now.

“The reason he moved from the academy to the first-team building recently, to train with us all the time, is because of the quality of player he is.

“He’s done himself no harm tonight with an immaculate performance, a brilliant performance.”

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Former Man United winger Nani eyeing Euro 2020 spot with Portugal

‘You need a mix of a young team and experienced players’: Former Man United winger Nani eyeing Euro 2020 spot with Portugal after missing out on the World Cup two years ago

  • The 33-year-old winger is currently plying his trade at Orlando City in the MLS
  • Nani is hoping some good performances can see him return to international fold
  • He last represented Portugal in 2017 but was part of squad that won Euro 2016

Former Manchester United winger Nani is eyeing a Euro 2020 spot with Portugal after missing out on the World Cup two years ago.

The 33-year-old, who made 230 appearances for the Red Devils, is currently plying his trade at Orlando City in the MLS.

The MLS season got underway last weekend and Nani is hoping some good performances over the coming months can see him break back into the international fold.

Former Manchester United winger Nani is eyeing a Euro 2020 spot with Portugal this summer

He is hoping some good performances for Orlando City can see him break back into the fold

‘[The current Portugal team is] a great generation,’ Nani told Goal

‘You can see some quality from the young players from that next generation, but you know that every time there’s a competition, every time there’s a World Cup, a European Cup, you need a mix of a young team and experienced players to match the difficulty of that competition.  

‘For sure, it’s a possibility, if I do well and I’m at my best, there’s a chance to come back to the national team, so I hope so!’

Nani last represented Portugal three years ago but was part of the squad that won Euro 2016 in France.

The wideman played the full 90 minutes as Portugal overcame France 1-0 after extra-time four years ago. 

The 33-year-old made 230 appearances for the Red Devils between 2007 and 2015

 


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Arsenal target £17.5m Gent star amid Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang transfer fears

Arsenal are keeping tabs on Gent star Jonathan David as they weigh up a summer move.

The 20-year-old frontman has emerged as a top target with the north London club wary of losing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette.

David, a Canadian international, moved to Belgium from Ottawa Internationals two years ago and has been in the goals this term.

His 23 goals in 39 outings make him the league's top scorer and Arsenal scouts have been impressed when they've observed him, reports Goal.

Since moving to Europe David has notched 35 times, 12 coming in his debut season, and has shown his ability in the Europa League with five goals.

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The youngster does not have a release clause inserted into his contract but a fee of around £17.5m is expected to be enough to convince Gent to sell up.

Arsenal will not be short of cash this summer, especially if one of Aubameyang or Lacazette depart for pastures new.

The former has been the Gunners most regular supply of goals since arriving at the Emirates in January 2018 and would be a huge miss, but with his contract winding down the club may be forced into selling.

Mikel Arteta though is confident the club won't be forced into any decision with talks still ongoing between Arsenal and the player.

He said: “We will have to do that before the end of the season. I want to keep him in any circumstances.”

The Spaniard also admitted he sought out the Gabon international to find out whether he was focused on Arsenal amid talks of a move away.

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“I had two questions," he said. “One was he doesn’t want to do it or he cannot do it physically, so once I found out that physically he could do it, it was just about convincing him that he needs to do it every three days and he is doing that.

“He needs to feel fulfilled.

“When he does that, we show our appreciation as well of what he is doing because he can say: ‘I score the goals, I don’t need to do it’.

“But unfortunately we are not that good that we can allow a few players not to do that.”

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Five noticeable moments from Liverpool training amid slump in form

Liverpool were back out in training on Thursday following the disappointing 2-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup on Tuesday.

The loss leaves the Reds with just one win from their last four matches in all competitions, and their hopes of an unbeaten Premier League season, of course, in tatters.

Jurgen Klopp and co. were back out at Melwood training as hard as ever on Thursday though, with a home game against Bournemouth awaiting them on Saturday lunchtime as they look to continue their record breaking season.

All the usual faces including Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk were all involved, despite the heavily congested fixture list.

So here’s five things Starsport noticed from Liverpool’s training session:

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No changes from Klopp

Klopp appeared to his usual self during this morning’s session, marching about the training ground with ball under foot and beaming away.

Like he often does, the German got assistant Pep Lijnders to do the running around during the various exercises.

Shockingly though, there was no baseball cap from the tactician as his floppy fringe flowed freely. A change of superstitions, perhaps?

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Centre-back conundrum

All of Liverpool’s centre-half options were out on the training ground, which means they will all be contention to start against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Virgil van Dijk will no doubt start, but Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren all looked to be in pretty good shape ahead of the weekend.

Lovren isn’t likely to get to the nod due to his showing at Watford, so Klopp has a tricky decision to make as to whether he goes with Gomez or Matip.

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Youth the way to go?

There were plenty of youngsters involved in the session, with the likes of Pedro Chirivella and Harvey Elliott out training with the rest of the first-team squad.

Nico Williams and Curtis Jones, who both played against Chelsea, were also included.

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Lallana’s tattoos

The camera managed to snap midfielder Adam Lallana while stretching with his shirt up.

And blimey – the former Southampton man has A LOT of tattoos on his torso.

It’s quite ironic that the England hopeful is so inked when you think back to THAT tattoo which Liverpool fan Andreah De La Hoz got of Lallana on her leg in 2017 as a Llama in a tribute to her friend who passed away.

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Still smiling

The mood in the camp doesn’t have appeared to have diminished too much, with most of the squad all smiles still at Melwood.

Sadio Mane in particular seemed to be joking around a fair bit, and one picture even shows him getting Trent Alexander-Arnold riled up.

Overall, the Liverpool squad seemed to be extremely focussed but jovial – just how Klopp would want them to be.

Bournemouth could be in for a rough ride this weekend…

  • Liverpool FC
  • Premier League
  • FA Cup
  • Jurgen Klopp
  • Mohamed Salah
  • Sadio Mane
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Man Utd duo Ed Woodward and Matt Judge working on sealing £25m transfer deal this week

Manchester United pair Ed Woodward and Matt Judge are working on sealing a transfer deal for Birmingham star Jude Bellingham this week, reports say. The 16-year-old has been linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund but the Red Devils could end up luring him to Old Trafford instead.

Manchester United were linked with a move for Bellingham during the January transfer window amid his impressive form in the Championship for Birmingham.

The 16-year-old has been a key player for the Blues this season, turning the heads of England and Europe’s elite in the process.

United admire Bellingham and see him as the ideal player for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s rebuild, with the Norwegian focused on landing young and promising talent.

Recently, Dortmund have emerged as frontrunners in the race to sign the teenager.

But Football Insider say United duo Woodward and Judge are working on a deal to sign Bellingham this week.

It’s claimed that they’ve held ‘extensive talks’ with Birmingham over a potential transfer.

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And, despite Dortmund’s involvement, United are hopeful they can win the race for the midfielder.

However, there’s still much work to do.

United must reportedly convince both the player and his family that they’re a move attractive destination than Dortmund.

As things stand, the Bundesliga side are on the verge of agreeing a fee for the player.

But United are hopeful they can add him to their ranks.

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Solskjaer’s signings have all done well for United, with the 47-year-old signing five throughout his time at the club.

Daniel James was the first to arrive and has sparkled in his first season at Old Trafford.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has done enough at right-back to suggest he can make the position his own over the next decade.

Harry Maguire has brought composure and solidarity to the Red Devils’ backline since his move from Leicester.

And Bruno Fernandes and Odion Ighalo have enjoyed good starts to their Old Trafford spells since arriving in January.

Meanwhile, speaking recently, former Birmingham winger Jermaine Pennant urged Bellingham to turn down United.

“It’s difficult, it will be so hard for Jude to turn down a move to Manchester United,” Pennant told talkSPORT.

“But is it going to halt his career, at 16? Ole is not going to be throwing him into the starting line-up, he will be in the squad but he won’t be starting. How many games is he going to play?

“Now he is a regular at Birmingham. Birmingham is in the Championship, not League One, not League Two, the Championship, it’s good football.

“The Championship is a very difficult league, more demanding than the Premier League – and he’s 16 and he’s holding his weight, he is putting in tackles, he’s strong.”

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Brock Lesnar footage leaks from WWE RAW with star heard in secret message to Drew McIntyre

Brock Lesnar has been caught on camera breaking character by sending a secret message to Drew McIntyre on RAW. British superstar McIntyre challenged WWE Champion Lesnar for the world title at WrestleMania 36 after winning the Men’s Royal Rumble Match in January.

Pick up the belt

Brock Lesnar

The two heavyweights are now set to lock horns on April 5 at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

The two WWE superstars have already started building their feud which reached boiling point last Monday on RAW as McIntyre launched an impressive attack on Lesnar.

The Scottish Terminator took out The Beast with three Claymore kicks, the last two of which took place on the show’s entrance ramp.

After landing the second blow the ex-Intercontinental Champion started yelling at The Conqueror who was pretending like he was unconscious.

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As the crowd was going wild, the camera caught Lesnar breaking character and shouting at his rival to “pick up the belt”.

McIntyre followed the veteran’s advice as he grabbed the WWE Championship and raised it over his head in what could be an indication of what’s to come at WrestleMania.

He then delivered the third and last Claymore which grounded the eight-time world champion in front of the roaring crowd.

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Lesnar was obviously trying to make his younger rival look strong ahead of their scheduled fight and was looking to raise interest around their ongoing programme.

This is the second time the British superstar gets the best out of the UFC legend as the two popular stars met during the Men’s Royal Rumble Match.

The ex-NXT Champion eliminated the MMA hero with a thunderous Claymore that saw him flying over the top rope.

Lesnar and McIntyre could compete in the main event of Mania but WWE also announced a couple of other exciting encounters that could close the show in Tampa.

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Universal Champion Goldberg will defend his title against Roman Reigns after winning the belt from Bray Wyatt at WWE Super ShowDown, much to the dismay of the WWE fans.

Rhea Ripley will also be putting her NXT Women’s Championship on the line against Women’s Royal Rumble winner Charlotte Flair in a historic match that will see an NXT title being defended for the first time ever at WrestleMania.

John Cena will return to action amid his growing acting career in Hollywood to take on Wyatt at the Show of Shows.

WWE will be announcing some more bouts in the near future with rumours suggesting that wrestling legends like The Undertaker and Edge will come back to battle AJ Styles and Randy Orton respectively.

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Anthony Joshua explains why Tyson Fury was so dominant in Deontay Wilder rematch

Tyson Fury dismantled Deontay Wilder with ease in their heavyweight rematch because “he was at his highest height” on the night, according to Anthony Joshua.

Wilder was battered from pillar to post by Fury in Las Vegas, dropping to the canvas twice before his trainer Mark Breland chose to throw in the towel after seven rounds.

It was a sensational performance from the Gypsy King, who became a two-time heavyweight champion of the world by snatching Wilder’s WBC crown from his grasp.

And Joshua, who holds every other major title in the division, believes Wilder may have underestimated a mentally-strong Fury in Sin City.

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“Fury’s very talented, Wilder’s very talented, they went in there and they gave their best and one man came out on top,” he said on Lucozade Sport’s The Running Show podcast.

“Maybe Wilder thought it would be an easier fight because Fury had a long layoff because he had his own issues outside of the ring and stuff like that, but I think he [Fury] was mentally right.

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“So they were both physically conditioned for the fight, but sometimes when you’ve been at rock bottom where Fury was, the only way is up, you can’t actually go any lower than that.

“So he picked himself up and only he knew how high he took his heights.

“You won’t even let yourself get there again, so I think he was at his highest height that night and it paid off for him.

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“Mentally he was in the best place possible and he just pulled off a great performance against a dangerous puncher.”

Wilder has triggered the rematch clause at his disposal, meaning he will lock horns with Fury for a third time this summer.

Joshua also has to get past IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on June 20 before negotiations for an undisputed showdown between both winners can begin.

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Yet Fury’s father, John, has urged the former Olympic champion to steer clear of his son.

“You're a nice guy. You look well, you've got a big future but when it comes down to the beating, fighting lion heart I don't think you've got it,” he told AJ via iFL TV.

“So, don't mess with Tyson Fury. Keep your belts, go and fight other people but don't mess with Tyson unless it's worth your while, because let me tell you it'll be the last time you ever box if you mess with him.”

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