“T his is more than a one-man team,” McGinley said. “Ian Poulter has been a colossus in the Ryder Cup. He played a massive role today winning that half point with Rory. “What he did those last few holes when we really needed him; when his game wasn’t as good as we’ve seen Ian Poulter in the past… to be able to stand up and do what he did, chip in when he needed to chip in, take the pressure off Rory on 18 to hit that wedge shot in as close as he did, that’s why he’s Ian Poulter. “Even when he’s a little bit off-form, he’s able to produce like that. That’s why he’ll go down in history as one of the greatest-ever Ryder Cup players.” McGinley invited former Manchester United manager Ferguson to speak to his team on Tuesday and will reiterate some of the Scot’s messages to ensure they do not squander a commanding 10-6 lead in Sunday’s singles. “Ev erything I’ve been doing this week as captain has been working towards three or four key messages,” McGinley said. “Alex Ferguson wasn’t just picked out of the blue because I met him by chance or anything like that. He was picked for a reason. Press Association “He was picked as a manager of a very, very successful football team that played at home very well, had a great record at home, were very good playing with the tag of favourites and the expectation on them. And I knew there was a lot of common themes he could relay to the players. “A lot of the images that we have in the room are along the same message that I asked Alex to speak about. There’s a number of words, obviously complacency is one that really comes to fore a lot. “We’ve got a lot of really strong images in our team room and photos that have messages on the bottom of them and have been kind of doctored in a way to highlight it. One particular one comes to mind is right outside our team room, probably two metres by three metres and it’s a picture of a European rock in the middle of a raging storm in the ocean. “The message underneath is ‘We will be the rock when the storm arrives.’ And the storm arrived this morning. The American team came at us really strongly this morning and we did incredibly well to get 1 1/2 points. Then our wave came again this afternoon, fresh guys obviously performed and got the job done.” As a vice-captain at Medinah two years ago, when Europe came from 10-6 down to win, McGinley is well aware that the task of securing an eighth win in the last 10 contests was far from over. “C omplacency is a massive, massive word,” the 47-year-old added. “We have a very strong team here. We’re playing at home. We have won seven of the last nine Ryder Cups. It’s easy to be complacent. “We have another huge, graphic in our team room, ‘Passion has determined our past and attitude will determine our future’.” McGinley’s side have forged their lead with seven points from eight in the foursomes but just half a point from two matches by Ian Poulter, who had won 11 of his previous 12 matches in the contest. European captain Paul McGinley urged his players to remember their team talk from Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of the final day of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
Sean O’Brien faces a “nightmare” six months sidelined with shoulder trouble that threatens to wipe out his Six Nations campaign with Ireland. Should O’Brien miss Ireland’s Six Nations campaign he would be left with just the World Cup warm-up fixtures to prove himself ready for the global tournament. Ireland face Wales home and away and Scotland in Dublin August next year, before taking on England at Twickenham on September 5. Schmidt’s men will line up against France, Italy, Canada and Romania in Pool D of next year’s England-based World Cup. O’Brien swells Ireland’s list of autumn absentees after Munster duo Keith Earls and Donnacha Ryan were ruled out of November action this week. Luckless Earls has undergone surgery on the patella problem that has dogged the versatile flyer for some time. Lock Ryan could miss the entire campaign with a foot problem, while Ulster duo Iain Henderson and Dan Tuohy are also out of autumn contention. Press Association Leinster boss Matt O’Connor has revealed the British and Irish Lions flanker will undergo shoulder surgery in London on Friday. The 27-year-old has suffered an infection in the same shoulder he had reconstructed after Ireland’s 24-22 Dublin defeat to New Zealand in November. The bullish back-rower will miss Ireland’s three-Test autumn series and could now be left with just four international matches to prove his fitness for Rugby World Cup 2015. “It’s a nightmare. He’s incredibly frustrated,” said O’Connor. “There was a little bit of a complication with the previous surgery due to the infection. “So they’re going to have to redo that reconstruction, which is a five to six month time frame.” Ireland face South Africa, Georgia and Australia in their autumn Guinness series, and have just 12 fixtures before launching their World Cup bid against Canada in September 2015. O’Brien has marked himself out as among the best flankers in world rugby through his gritty, physical style. The 30-cap back-rower was expected to form a dangerous partnership with Peter O’Mahony and Jamie Heaslip for Ireland this autumn. Now head coach Schmidt may well turn to Ulster flanker Chris Henry, who deputised impressively last term as Ireland claimed the Six Nations title.
Southampton’s midfield options are becoming stretched at just the wrong time, with Jack Cork facing at least six weeks on the sidelines. Toby Alderweireld has helped fill the void in the past two matches but he is a doubt with a hamstring injury – hardly the ideal preparation for manager Ronald Koeman. “I went to the training centre this morning about some updates of the players,” the Dutchman said ahead of his clash with compatriot Louis van Gaal. “Jack Cork has ankle ligament (damage) and he will be out for maybe more than six weeks from what I heard from the doctor. “Morgan Schneiderlin is doing well but he’s not fit for Monday. “Toby Alderweireld is positive. It’s not really a hamstring injury, it’s more fatigue in his muscle and he’s doubtful for Monday. “Maybe yes, maybe not, we have to wait, the game is on Monday and now we have two or three days more.” Dusan Tadic has been passed fit to face United, but Koeman will not be fast-tracking Ward-Prowse back from a fractured foot. That leaves Southampton struggling for numbers in central midfield, meaning 19-year-old Harrison Reed could make his first Premier League start alongside the likes of Victor Wanyama and Steven Davis. The 25-year-old will not play again this year after sustaining ankle ligament damage in Wednesday’s late 1-0 defeat at Arsenal. Cork’s absence compounds an increasingly tough situation for Saints in central midfield, with James Ward-Prowse and Morgan Schneiderlin also out of contention for Monday’s match with Manchester United. Press Association “He is ready,” Koeman said. “He’s a young player and he has to develop himself, but always I’m a manager at a club who likes to have development of young players. That means also that you give chances to play. “I didn’t choose Harry when Schneiderlin went off in the game against City because of the level of competition, the physical strength in that game. Toby did it fantastic and the reason I did the same (against Arsenal when Cork went off). “Harry played last Monday and young players need to play every week and he’s an option for this Monday.”
But now it seems that Lampard, despite being announced as a New York signing last summer, has never signed any formal contract with the Major League Soccer newcomers. Lampard had actually been on a short-term, full-time deal with City for the first half of the season and that was extended to the end of the campaign on New Year’s Eve. It means confusion remains over what exactly Lampard had agreed with NYCFC, who had publicly announced they expected the player to join up with them on January 1, while Lampard also fronted their season ticket marketing campaign. There have been suggestions that Lampard might actually have signed with the City Football Group – the parent company for both clubs – but the Premier League has indicated there is no provision for a move to NYCFC. The league has looked into the matter, feeling it needed to ascertain who owned Lampard’s contract to safeguard the integrity of its competition. And, despite the confusion, it has concluded nothing untoward has occurred. A Premier League statement read: “Frank Lampard is registered with Manchester City FC until the end of the 2014-15 season. “The Premier League has sought and received assurances from Manchester City that there is no agreement in place between the club or City Football Group with New York City FC relating to the player.” Press Association City have not yet responded to requests to clarify the situation. New York City said on December 31 they were unsure when Lampard would now join them. “His exact starting date with New York City FC will be confirmed as the EPL and MLS seasons unfold,” a statement read. Lampard, released by Chelsea at the end of last season, has made a positive impression at the Etihad Stadium and scored seven goals so far this term. The league is also satisfied that the Barclays Premier League champions have not broken any rules over their signing of the former England midfielder. Lampard, 36, was expected to join City’s sister club New York City full-time this month having apparently been on loan in Manchester from the American outfit. The Premier League has confirmed that Frank Lampard is registered as a player solely with Manchester City.
Police had wanted the kick-off time for the often explosive Premier League clash to be brought forward over public-order fears around fans spending more time drinking before the match starts. The force had taken their case to a district judge on Tuesday after Liverpool council’s licensing committee last week turned down a police request to bring forward the kick-off time to 2pm or earlier. But their appeal was withdrawn at South Sefton Magistrates’ Court after a compromise was reached between the police, the council and Everton FC. The match will go ahead at the later kick-off time of 5.30pm but Everton will improve segregation between the two sets of fans at the game and all parties agreed to look again at kick-off times for Category C, or ‘risk’ matches. Everton’s crunch derby clash against Liverpool on Saturday will kick-off at the scheduled later time of 5.30pm after Merseyside Police withdrew a legal challenge. Press Association
Press Association Michael O’Neill is preparing to do battle with a familiar face on Sunday, as an old friend attempts to derail Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 dream. There is a whole lot more riding on the follow-up, with Northern Ireland having taken nine points from a possible 12 in Group F, while their opponents face a fight to stay in contention with just four points from their four fixtures. O’Neill admits he and Paatelainen have declined to swap advice about other teams on the road to France, but accepts the two men know each other’s style “inside out”. “We’re similar to players, I think. When you’ve played at a club with someone and then you’ve worked briefly with them as a coach there’s obviously a relationship there. “But we didn’t spend hours on the phone or anything up to that, so the relationship hasn’t changed at all. Obviously we are less inclined to discuss the opposition because he probably thinks he doesn’t want to tell me things I perhaps don’t know and vice versa. But we both know each other inside out and how our team will play. “Regardless of what happens it won’t affect how close we are.” O’Neill even sees a parallel between the two national sides, with both he and Paatelainen attempting to eke the best out of a small number of top-tier players, while building a strong group in support. “I think Mixu has done a great job there and his job is quite similar to mine,” he said. “You have a limited pool of players to choose from and he has got them playing in a nice style. “There’s no doubt Finland are a good team but there is a dependence there on five or six players and the team’s make-up is quite similar to mine.” Northern Ireland’s current position, and the well of optimism around the squad, is in stark contrast to an underwhelming first campaign under O’Neill. Brief glimmers of light – a battling point in Portugal, a 1-0 win over Russia – were outweighed by dismal defeats against Azerbaijan and Luxembourg. And the manager is both pleased and grateful that senior men such as captain Steven Davis, Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt and Gareth McAuley did not allow themselves to become disillusioned. “That’s the only way you can build an international team, you can’t build one, unless you’ve got massive resources, if you can’t be patient,” he said. “You need the patience of Steven, Gareth, Jonny and Brunty, who continue to come through the disappointment. They move on, but this is the reward for those players. “Over the past 18 months I’ve seen a lot of change and a real progression.” The Northern Ireland match-winner in recent months has been striker Kyle Lafferty, who scored against Hungary, Greece and the Faroe Islands before being shut out in the defeat by Romania. He has had a change of scenery since then, leaving Norwich for a loan spell with Turkish side Rizespor. Part of his motivation for that unexpected move was a desire to get regular game time at centre forward, with the Canaries having used him predominantly in a withdrawn role. Davis, a former Rangers team-mate of Lafferty, explained: “He just wants to go out and get regular football, and a chance to play up front. “He’s had a few experiences in other countries so I think at the time he knew it was the time to move on. He had Northern Ireland in the back of his mind, he wanted to improve his football for international level too. “He’s always going to give you 100% commitment and effort, give you everything but it’s about getting him focused. “We’ve seen a focused Kyle Lafferty in this campaign so far and long may it continue.” Finland are the opponents at Windsor Park, led by the Mixu Paatelainen – the man who gave O’Neill his coaching break as his number two at Cowdenbeath. The pair have already crossed paths on the international circuit, sharing an entertaining 3-3 friendly draw in 2012, during O’Neill’s early days at the helm.
Another British challenger, the David Nicholls-trained Sovereign Debt, held every chance but had nothing more to give in the closing stages and was well held. The victory was the middle leg of a treble for Manning and Bolger, who earlier saddled a one-two in the juvenile maiden and landed another one-two in the Alleged Stakes. He said of Flight Risk: “Pat O’Donovan rides him out regularly and told me the other day that he could be a Group One horse if everything fell right for him. Everything fell right and he’s on his way. “He got bogged down in Cork and this better ground helped. I’d like to come back for something like this on Derby weekend.” Flight Risk sprung a 50-1 shock in the feature Big Bad Bob Gladness Stakes at the Curragh on a big afternoon for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning. The race-fit four-year-old, who was well beaten at Cork a fortnight ago, was brought with a dream run near the far rail by Manning to challenge for the lead in the final quarter of a mile. He galloped on resolutely to take the Group Three honours comfortably by a length and a quarter from another outsider, 33-1 shot Piri Wango, with Charlie Hills’ raider Cable Bay coming through late to take third place. Press Association
Miss Katie Mae put her experience to good use with a smooth success in the Killashee EBF Fillies Maiden at the Curragh. Press Association Lyons said: “She’s a lovely, green filly. We’ve always thought a lot of her and she was very green in Naas. “That’s what we do with our horses, get them out and then they improve for the run. We knew she’d be better over six furlongs and on better ground. “Colin said she got there to win her race and was as green as grass. We’ll watch her temperament and won’t ask any stupid questions of her. “The owners are new owners from America and are important clients. Fingers crossed she could be a special filly for them in races later on. There will be no talk of Royal Ascot. She’s a long-term project.” Mick Halford landed a nice pot when Hasanour (13-2) readily won the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Habitat’ Handicap under Shane Foley. Richard Hughes did not go away empty-handed as he arrived late to grab the Hanlon Concrete Handicap on Johnny Murtagh’s Duca Valentinois (8-1). The trainer said: “Today was the day really. Richard said that seems a good trip for him. He was a little keen early and it took him a bit of time to get going but he hit the line well. He said he was always getting here from a furlong and a half down.” Hughes added: “He did it well. Johnny said to find all the trouble you can and get him there late.” The once-raced Ger Lyons-trained youngster was always travelling well off the shoulder of early leader Dancing On Air and newcomer Rich Jade on the rails, and Colin Keane made his move inside the two-furlong marker. With odds-on favourite Ballydoyle slowly away and racing at the rear of the field before staying on late in the day, the 5-1 winner stretched clear and was a length and three-quarters to the good of 50-1 chance Spinamiss at the line.
Even by that point Ilori was a keen footballer – driven in no small part by competition with his brother – but his education truly began in Portugal, with his performances for Imortal in Albufeira impressing Sporting. For a long while the family made the 300-mile round-trip to Lisbon at weekends just so he could play, before eventually making the decision to up sticks and move to the Portuguese capital. It was a wrench given Ilori’s siblings were settled in school and his parents ran a restaurant, and the move looked to have gone sour when the young defender was effectively released aged 14. Sporting promised to keep tabs when he joined up with Estoril and they were suitably impressed by his progress, leading him to return to a club where he would move into the first-team before joining Liverpool. It is fair to say things have not gone to plan since the move to Anfield, but there does now appear to be light at the end of the tunnel. The powers that be are said to be keen to extend Ilori’s contract and he will return to pre-season fit for the first time since moving to Anfield. “He is determined to make a success of it at Liverpool,” Kola said. “You don’t give up on it lightly. “There’s a long list of central defenders, as we well know, in front of him, but that’s the way it goes in football.” Kola will be there to support Tiago regardless of how it pans out, making the journey to see him play wherever it may be. For now that means he is in Olomouc with eldest son Ricardo and they hope a trip to Prague for the tournament finale is also on the cards. Whatever happens, this will be a memorable summer for Ilori given his partner is expecting their first child at the end of July. If he can add a European Championship medal before that, then this dream summer may well be one which excites Liverpool fans and leaves the Football Association ruing what could have been. Press Association Tiago Ilori is the sole British player left competing in the Czech Republic, albeit the Hampstead-born defender is donning the famous green and red of Portugal. His name will pique the interest of many Premier League fans, especially those with connections to the red side of Merseyside. As the post-mortem into England’s latest failure continues, a young player from north London is still dreaming of lifting the Under-21 European Championship. Ilori joined Liverpool two years ago in a £7million deal from Sporting Lisbon, but has yet to make his Reds debut having been farmed out on loan to Granada and Bordeaux. Brendan Rodgers has not given up the on the 22-year-old, though, and he is certainly not doing himself any harm with his displays in the Czech Republic – even if he ends up missing Saturday’s mouth-watering semi-final against Germany through injury. It would be a big blow for Ilori given he started all three matches as Portugal topped Group B, opening the tournament with a 1-0 win against England – a country he is still eligible to represent, even if a change of heart now appears unlikely. “I think Tiago, if you ask him, his allegiance football-wise is definitely Portugal,” Ilori’s father Kola, who hails from Camden, said on the eve of the semi-final. “It’s where he has been. I think there’s seven guys that came the Sporting ranks so he is pretty close to them.” Ilori came through at Sporting with the likes of William Carvalho, Joao Mario and Ricardo Esgaio, although their route to this point could not have been much different. Born to a Portuguese mother, Sao, and Nigerian-English father, Kola, the defender grew up in Hampstead with older siblings Ricardo and Karlaa. His auntie nicknamed him Charles as a kid given his plummy accent was so similar to Prince Charles’, but that softened after the family swapped north London for the Algarve when he was seven.
And Bolasie, who has made 119 appearances for the Eagles and scored seven goals, has been rewarded with a bumper new deal at Selhurst Park. “This is a good news story for the club, to secure this guy,” Pardew said. “Not only is he an exciting player who our fans love, but he’s a great guy, a great character, unspoilt by fame and success. I’m really pleased. “I’ve said all along that this guy needs to deliver the final moment, and when he does that he won’t be here in three and a half years. “So my first priority was to secure him, and develop him. If I can develop him and take this club forward, that’s great. Then if a big club comes we use that money to take the club forward. Simple equation. “There was no bid for Yannick. But we know, if he was available for £5million, we’d have a queue from here to wherever. He’s a lot more money than that, and now we’ve got three and a half years he’s a lot more money. “If I can make him even better then that’s good security for the club.” Bolasie is set to feature at Watford on Sunday at the end of a week during which his fellow winger Wilfried Zaha has been the centre of attention. Pardew criticised the performance of Zaha after hauling him off at half-time at Tottenham last Sunday, but the 22-year-old responded by inspiring Palace to a 4-1 Capital One Cup win over Charlton in midweek. The 26-year-old was the subject of speculation over his future during the summer, with Tottenham heavily linked with his signature. But boss Alan Pardew insists there was no bid for the player despite some sparkling displays since his switch from Bristol City in 2012. Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie has agreed a new three-and-a-half-year contract. Zaha has yet to show the form which prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to make him his last major signing for Manchester United, and Pardew feels the player – like so many other youngsters – moved to a big club too early. “Manchester United took a risk, really, because he hadn’t done it at Premier League level,” Pardew added. “Maybe you could argue he needed a year in the Premier League to really develop and the year going to Manchester United set him back, there’s no doubt about that. “Sometimes I think these big clubs take players too early and they’re literally taking talent without consideration to how it’s going to work in the team. “At Manchester City you could look at a number of players; (Scott) Sinclair, (Jack) Rodwell. It’s very difficult to get it back. You’ve taken a very important year out of someone’s career. “Therefore, my job is to get him to understand the level of the Premier League and how to perform consistently. There’s no doubt he’s good enough for the Premier League – no doubt.” Press Association