Beckham included in squad
Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti shrugged off David Beckham’s trip to China on Thursday and admitted that he would be delighted if the former England skipper extended his deal with the French giants. Beckham, 37, left on his 16,500km round-trip on Wednesday last week before returning to Paris on Monday, visiting three Chinese cities as part of a long-planned ambassadorial role. Ancelotti included the veteran midfielder in his squad for the Ligue 1 leaders home clash against Montpellier Herault yesterday, despite some fears that he may not be fit enough to feature for the full 90 minutes. “If he were to come on with five minutes left in the match, then that would be manageable. If it was for an hour and a half, then that would not be reasonable,” club doctor Dominique Savelli said.
Haye returning to the ring
Former WBA champion David Haye is returning to the boxing ring as he plots a route to another world title fight. The 32-year-old British heavyweight will fight a yet to be determined opponent on June 29 in Manchester, England, with another bout scheduled before the end of the year. Haye was last in the ring in July last year when he beat Dereck Chisora, with his belief at the time that the success would lead to a fight with Vitali Klitschko for the WBC belt. That did not transpire, but Haye is ready to go in search of the mandatory challenger tag.
Ajmal could require surgery
Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker in all three forms of the game for the past two years, could require surgery for a suspected hernia after suffering stomach pains for the past two months. “I have been examined by doctors and they feel I could require surgery for a suspected hernia,” he said on Thursday. Ajmal, 35, said he could have the operation before Pakistan’s one-day series against Scotland and Ireland in late May. He said he would need a two-week break from cricket, but intends to take part in the Champions Trophy in England in June.
Gunner Diaby injured again
Abou Diaby’s injury curse struck again on Thursday when the Arsenal midfielder was ruled out for up to nine months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The 26-year-old France international midfielder suffered the injury in training on Wednesday and is due to undergo surgery. Diaby has been blighted by injuries since joining Arsenal from French club AJ Auxerre in 2006. He fractured and dislocated his ankle in May of that year and made only 27 league appearances over the following two seasons. Things improved in the 2010-2011 campaign, when he established himself in the Arsenal midfield, but a string of injuries restricted him to just five appearances last season and he has played only 16 times this season.
Gilbert, Phinney ruled out
Reigning world champion Philippe Gilbert of Belgium and Taylor Phinney of the US have both been ruled out of tomorrow’s Tour des Flandres, their team BMC announced on Thursday. Gilbert, who has twice finished third in the spring classic, is currently recovering from a cold and is not in suitable condition to take part, while Phinney has a knee injury and is hoping to return to peak condition for the Paris-Roubaix next Saturday. Britain’s Adam Blythe has been named in the BMC team for the race to help cover for the duo’s absence.
Bolt to race in Rio
Usain Bolt, the two-time reigning Olympic champion over 100m and 200m, is to bid to better his world record over the rarely raced distance of 150m on Rio de Janeiro’s famed Copacabana beach tomorrow. The Jamaican sprint star set the world best of 14.35 seconds over 150m at an exhibition race in Manchester in 2009, and is again to race on a track laid over one of the world’s most iconic sandy beaches. “It will be my first speed event of the season,” said the 26-year-old, who last year claimed an unprecendented second treble gold sprint showing at the London Olympics. “I’ve already had the chance to run on a track laid in the street [in Manchester], but it’ll be interesting to run at Copacabana.” While organizers laid on a daytime trip to a Brazilian favela [slum] for Bolt to meet disadvantaged children, the Jamaican’s plans for his time in Rio lay elsewhere. “I know a lot of things about Brazil, but the thing I know most about are the beaches and the girls on the beaches,” he said. “But I’ve never had the time to go there, and I also want to go to a nightclub.”
Fiji play down hopes
Fiji have tempered hopes they can cut the gap on runaway series leaders New Zealand at this weekend’s Tokyo Sevens, despite last week’s magical victory in Hong Kong. The free-running Pacific Islanders put on a Sevens masterclass when they came back from 19-0 down at halftime to beat Wales 26-19 at a packed Hong Kong Stadium on Sunday. However, coach Alifereti Dere highlighted the difficulty of winning consecutive events on the Sevens World Series, which is increasingly competitive in the buildup to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. “It is true it is hard to win two in a row,” he said, according to the tournament Web site.
Cardinals sign Wainwright
The St Louis Cardinals said on Thursday they have signed right-handed pitcher Adam Wainwright to a five-year contract extension through the 2018 Major League Baseball season. Newspaper and television reports have said the deal is the richest in team history for a pitcher at US$97.5 million and is to begin after he completes his current contract this season for US$12 million. The Cardinals, who open the six-month season on Monday in Arizona with Wainwright on the mound, paid Chris Carpenter US$63.5 million over five years in December 2006 in their costliest pitcher’s contract before now. Wainwright would have become a free agent after this season, but chose to remain with a team he helped to their 10th World Series title in 2006 as a closing relief ace.
Levein settles dispute
Former Scotland manager Craig Levein on Thursday settled his legal dispute with the Scottish Football Association following his dismissal. Levein was asked to leave his post on full pay in November last year, but his contract was due to run until the 2014 World Cup, so he then resigned and launched legal action over compensation. After several months of negotiations, former Heart of Midlothian and Dundee United boss Levein has agreed a suitable settlement for an undisclosed figure. “The Scottish FA and Craig Levein confirm that a mutually acceptable settlement has been reached for an undisclosed sum in relation to Craig’s contract with the Scottish FA,” a statement read. “The Scottish FA wishes Craig well for the future. No further comment will be made on this matter.”