Strikers’ curse strikes again
Darren Bent, who was called into the England squad as a late replacement for injured strikers Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole, has been ruled out of today’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine. England manager Fabio Capello has called up Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor as a replacement for the injured Bent, who damaged a tendon in his knee in training late on Monday. “I have called up Agbonlahor, but I will start with Peter Crouch in attack,” Capello said. England lost Heskey with a thigh strain after 15 minutes of Saturday’s 4-0 friendly win over Slovakia. Carlton Cole, who came on as a substitute, was replaced after 34 minutes when he suffered an abductor muscle injury.
Luca Toni set to return
Italian World Cup winner Luca Toni is set to return for Bayern Munich’s all-important Bundesliga clash at Wolfsburg on Saturday, having finally shaken off his Achilles tendon injury. Toni, 31, has not played a league game since Valentine’s Day when the striker limped out of Bayern’s 2-1 defeat at Hertha Berlin and then sat out Italy’s 2-0 World Cup qualifier win at Montenegro on Saturday. But his return will boost Munich ahead of next week’s the Champions League quarter-final, first-leg against Barcelona. Klinsmann will also welcome back Italian defender Massimo Oddo, from a calf injury, and midfielder Hamit Altintop for the trip to Wolfsburg.
Armenia fires Poulsen
The Armenian soccer federation announced yesterday their decision to sack national manager Jan Poulsen after a 2-2 home draw with Estonia in a 2010 World Cup qualifying match. The 63-year-old Poulsen took over Armenia’s national side in January, but in the qualifiers to date, his side have suffered four defeats and just the one draw against Estonia.
Abbiati out for months
AC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati will be out of action for five to six months following surgery on his cruciate knee ligament, the club said on Monday. Abbiati injured his knee two weeks ago in Milan’s 5-1 victory at Siena, after which he was replaced by Brazilian Dida. Milan said on their Web site that the operation had been a complete success but not only is Abbiati’s season over, he will also miss the beginning of the next campaign. In Dida, though, Milan have a player who was first choice goalkeeper for the Rossoneri for five-and-a-half seasons since joining from Corinthians of Brazil in 2002. He lost his place to Australian Zeljko Kalac halfway through last season and the return of Abbiati — who lost his place to Dida in 2002 after four seasons as the club’s first choice No. 1 — from Atletico Madrid at the beginning of this campaign relegated both to the bench.
Tigers sign Josh Anderson
The Detroit Tigers added some speed on the bases and depth to their outfield corps on Monday by trading reliever Rudy Darrow to the Atlanta Braves for Josh Anderson. The 26-year-old Anderson had been competing for the starting job in center field for Atlanta before losing out to Jordan Schafer. “He gives us a dimension that we really don’t have, which is speed,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters. Anderson, who stole 42 bases in 49 attempts last season at Triple-A Richmond, is expected to back up Detroit’s starting outfield trio of Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson and Carlos Guillen.