Monday, January 31, 2011

Home Internationals unlikely to be regular fixture

The FA has suggested it is unlikely to resurrect the Home Nations tournament on a permanent basis, instead looking to reinstate the tournament to celebrate its 150th birthday.

New sponsors Vauxhall are said to be eager to have the competition on a yearly basis but the FA have now moved quash any speculation surrounding the tournament.

General Secretary Alex Horne says the governing body is still in talks with the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish FA’s about hosting the tournament in 2013 to celebrate the FA’s landmark anniversary. He said: “We’re talking to the home nations about a possible one-off round of matches with them.”

"I think we’d be talking about a series of one-off matches in 2013 to mark our 150th anniversary (rather than a regular tournament). He added.

The Home Nations was a regular fixture in the international until 1984, where a combination of falling attendances, crowd trouble and the emergence of the World Cup and European Championships put paid to the tournament.

A smaller 4 Nations tournament has been organised between every Home Nation country and the Republic of Ireland except for England in 2011, to be hosted in Dublin. The existence of this tournament is not said to be a threat to any future Home Nation’s tournament.

Vauxhall are now hoping to tie up sponsor deals with the remaining Home Nation sides to ensure the completion goes ahead on a regular basis. Both the Scottish and Welsh governing bodies have expressed an interest in reviving the tournament and football bets will be placed in favour of a return of the once popular competition by fans.

England boss Fabio Capello has also hinted he would welcome the return of the tournament and football betting would likely see his side installed as favourites were the tournament to go ahead.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sunderland welcome back key players

Sunderland have been handed a major boost ahead of their massive north-east derby at the weekend, with the news that three key players could return to action in time to face Newcastle. Nedum Onuoha, Danny Welbeck and club captain Lee Cattermole could all be named in a Sunderland side desperate to gain some pride back after their 5-1 at the hands of their arch-rivals spanking earlier in the season, something the football betting suggests they have every chance of doing.

Steve Bruce will be desperate to go into the match with all guns blazing and the return of the trio will certainly give the squad a boost. "Onuoha, Cattermole and Welbeck might be in the equation, but we'll see how things go. It's early in the week right now. I hope we'll have some of our big players back for Sunday's game," he told the club website.

Onuoha has been absent from Sunderland's defence since suffering a hamstring injury in the 2-0 home defeat against Blackpool on December 28th. The 24-year-old has impressed during his time at the Stadium of Light, since arriving on a season loan from Manchester City. Bruce could be exploring the option of trying to organise a permanent deal for the versatile defender.

Cattermole's return will be essential in the midfield battle against Newcastle's Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton. The skipper injured his back in the Blackpool defeat but has returned to training this week. After struggling earlier in the season with his poor discipline on the pitch, Cattermole has matured into a very valuable player for Bruce’s side.

Up front, Bruce will be pleased to see Danny Welbeck able to take his place in attack with Darren Bent. The young striker has been something of a revelation this season, his form keeping record signing Asamoah Gyan restricted to the bench, although the football predictions indicate he could play a part in Sunday's game.
With the Black Cats riding high in the league, Newcastle will need to be very wary of underestimating their rivals. This will surely be a different Sunderland side that was so easily demolished earlier in the season.