Press Association Nevin outclassed Ukrainian southpaw Mykola Butsenko to claim a unanimous points verdict, while Quigley edged out Romania’s Bogdan Juratoni via a split decision after a thriller. Paddy Barnes was forced to settle for a silver medal after withdrawing from his scheduled light-flyweight final against Russia’s David Ayrapetyan due to a nose injury. There was double joy for Ireland at the European Amateur Championships as both Olympic silver medallist John Joe Nevin and middleweight Jason Quigley were crowned champions. British flyweight Andrew Selby defended his title with a split decision win over Michael Conlan.
The 21-year-old is one of the most sought-after players in the Championship after making his name as a goalscoring midfielder at Bloomfield Road. Cardiff are looking to strengthen their squad after promotion to the Barclays Premier League, but Paul Ince reckons it is only “50-50” his son will move on. “Cardiff have come in massively for Thomas, the chairman’s accepted the offer,” he said in an interview with Blackpool’s official Youtube channel. “I’m not sure what the offer is because I’ve been away, but that’s been accepted, so it’s a case of when he comes back next week, Thomas, we’ll sit down and see what he wants to do.” Blackpool have been on warm weather training in Portugal, but Thomas Ince was given extra time off because of his involvement with England Under-21s and is not due back at the club until a week on Monday. Paul Ince added: “He loves it here. He said to me, ‘I’m in no rush to get to the Premiership, I’m in no rush to leave Blackpool. “I think it’s 50-50 at the moment. It’s a tricky one for me because obviously you want your son to be playing in the Premiership, but you obviously want your son to be playing with you. “I feel as far as improvement there’s still a long way for Thomas to go and will he get that if he went to the Premiership? I’m not too sure. I know what he needs because he’s grown up with me. Another year wouldn’t hurt him at Blackpool.” Press Association Blackpool have accepted a bid from Cardiff for Thomas Ince, according to manager Paul Ince.
Press Association Suso, signed from Cadiz in 2010, broke into the Liverpool side last season and made 20 first-team appearances. The 19-year-old forward, who starred at the recent Under-20 World Cup with Spain, recently expressed a desire to remain at Anfield despite being linked with a return to his homeland. But now Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has decided to let the player gain further experience in the Primera Division. Liverpool forward Suso has joined newly-promoted Spanish top-flight club Almeria on a season-long loan, the Reds have confirmed.
The 18-year-old moved to Stamford Bridge last month from Rancagua in his homeland, but has immediately been loaned out to the Eredivisie club to gain first-team experience. Cuevas was a member of Chile’s side at the recent Under-20 World Cup in Turkey, helping them reach the quarter-final stage. Press Association A statement on Vitesse’s website read: “Cuevas is known as a great talent. The left-footed player can operate anywhere along the left side.” Vitesse Arnhem have confirmed the signing of teenage midfielder Cristian Cuevas from Chelsea on a one-year loan deal, subject to a work permit.
Press Association “That is a massive game for us. In the next two or three days I will focus on that and let people around me work on the rest.” Wenger insists Arsenal remain an attractive proposition. “The big players have gone to Monaco, but I think Arsenal is still more attractive than Monaco on a European level,” he said. “But that doesn’t stop the players going to Monaco. It is the money, in this case. They don’t go to Monaco to play the Champions League because they don’t. “I believe we are still a very attractive club for players.” The Gunners were already without the likes of midfielder Mikel Arteta as well as full-back Nacho Monreal and captain Thomas Vermaelen before what proved to be a bruising encounter against Villa. Oxlade-Chamberlain was replaced at half-time with a knee problem. “He is definitely out (for Wednesday),” said Wenger. “We don’t know how deep it is, but it is a bad injury.” After failing to land any major summer transfer targets despite declarations by chief executive Ivan Gazidis the club were ready to escalate their financial firepower, with some £180million in the bank, it was hardly the ideal warm-up ahead of Wednesday night’s first leg of a crucial Champions League play-off against Fenerbahce at the intimidating Sukru Saracoglu stadium. Wenger, though, will use the next few days to focus on all things positive. “There is always a lot of dangers in a team because it is a human activity multiplied by 25, the negativity can become quick and spread quickly,” said Wenger, who saw defenders Kieran Gibbs and Bacary Sagna as well as England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added to the injury list on Saturday. “It is the first game of the season and we want to bounce back. I believe our season will depend on how we respond to this defeat.” Wenger added: “After such a disappointing start that will be difficult, but we will bounce back because the spirit and the focus in the team is good. We missed chances, were unlucky and had injuries, roll the three together and it is a fragile position, but the difference between us and the rest is not massive.” Arsenal, who missed out on the signature of Gonzalo Higuain earlier this summer and have not been able to secure a deal for Luis Suarez with Liverpool, will have to make do with whatever side they can pull together next week, having now passed the UEFA deadline for registering new players. Wenger, though, insists Arsenal’s problems will not be solved by just simply spending for the sake of it. “You can go up the Eiffel tower and throw the money away, but you play with the players you have,” he said. “What is important is to rebuild the confidence of the team before Wednesday night. Manager Arsene Wenger believes how his squad respond to the opening day disaster against Aston Villa will shape their season. The Gunners were booed off after they lost 3-1 at home to an industrious Villa side, finishing with 10 men following the dismissal of defender Laurent Koscielny for a second yellow card just minutes after he had conceded a controversial penalty. Wenger was criticised by some home fans – with banners of “spend, spend, spend” and calls to splash the cash as frustrations around Emirates Stadium boiled over.
Quoted in the Liverpool Echo, he said: “We are making good progress. “There are a lot of different groups working very well together and that’s the key to a big project like this happening, when everybody is on the same page. When everybody is on the same page, we move forward. “I think we were clear at one point that what made financial sense was going in this direction – and this is the direction that makes financial sense for the club for a long time. “Obstacles are being overcome. “We have always said you have to have certainty with regard to the properties because of the height of the stand and all of the issues regarding that. So that’s been the biggest issue.” He added: “The previous regime (Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr) were talking about going out and borrowing an enormous amount of money to build an enormous new facility. That’s not what we’re doing. “One of their problems was that they weren’t able to get financing. When this (project) happens, financing won’t be the problem. “We just need certainty with regard to these properties and the number of properties that are in question keeps getting reduced.” Press Association Henry’s Fenway Sports Group has been looking for some time to increase Anfield’s capacity – reportedly at a cost of around £154million – and the American says Liverpool City Council has made “good progress” in purchasing the few remaining privately owned properties around the stadium in order to enable the Main Stand to be expanded. Planning permission will only be sought once all deals are finalised, and Henry believes that – rather than the financing – remains the biggest hurdle. Liverpool principal owner John W Henry has offered reassurances that the finance is in place for the club to push on with their stadium redevelopment once the planning authorities give the go-ahead.
The 32-year-old Nigeria striker joined the Bluebirds in a £2.5million move late on transfer deadline day, ending an eight-month period where he was frozen out at The Hawthorns after attempting to force through a move to QPR in January. Odemwingie could make his Cardiff debut at Hull on Saturday, although he is likely to be selected among the substitutes by City boss Malky Mackay. But he believes the Welsh club, who spent significantly over the course of the summer, have a stronger pool of players to choose from than his former employers. He said: “I told my wife that from what I see this is a stronger team than West Brom. Without any disrespect to West Brom, that is how I feel. “I think the club has shown what brought them here were gradual steps. They showed a lot of ambition in the window but it took them a couple of years of calculated steps. “From the chat I had with the manager that is the way it will be. They have plans for the near future and I think the objective is to stay in the league because they all know this league is very tough. “They had a great start but the finish is the most important part and it is important to get points on the board before December.” Odemwingie, who revealed Stoke, Fulham, West Ham and Swansea had been interested in acquiring his services, also stated he was happy to take his share of the responsibility for his now infamous drive to Loftus Road in January as he sought an exit from the Baggies. But believes the club also have to take some of the blame. He said: “I will take part of the responsibility, but if you have a relationship on one side claiming it is perfect, then that is impossible. Peter Odemwingie took a swipe at former club West Brom as he claimed his move to Cardiff has seen him join a stronger team. “We are all human beings and we all make mistakes and I believe mistakes were made by West Brom as well. We learn from that. “As I said before, the West Brom fans are the most important thing to me. I am not against the whole club. I am a fan of a lot of people in the team, among the fans as well I still get a lot of positive words. “I have never met one single West Brom fan face to face who has said anything nasty. I still love the club.” The striker also revealed the lengths he had gone to to win over those West Brom fans hurt by his desire to leave. “During my stay there, there were people I got to know more than others. There was a nice letter written to me by a fan who had two little boys. It touched me,” he said. “The letter said ‘I have two boys and you mean everything to them, overnight they don’t talk about you any more’. “I thought it would be good to invite them over to my house because when I remember myself being seven years old, I could understand how the boys felt. The letter explained to me why the West Brom fans were hurt.” Press Association
Press Association Despite being overtaken by free-scoring City on Wednesday night after they were held to a 2-2 draw at Southampton 24 hours earlier, Arsenal could return to the top of the table if they beat Crystal Palace on Sunday afternoon, with their rivals not in action until Monday night when they host Chelsea. “We have to look at ourselves and only think we have to move forward,” Wenger said. “If you continue to move forward week after week you will make the difference. “The kind of performance we delivered at Southampton will not move us forward, so let’s focus to come back on Sunday and produce a good performance. “Our future lies there, to be capable to repeat a top-level performance that demands top-level commitment in every single game. “This team has commitment, character, intelligence and when we were questioned we always respond well. That’s what is at stake on Sunday for us.” Midfielder Mathieu Flamini, meanwhile, will start a three-match suspension following his red card at St Mary’s, but Czech playmaker Tomas Rosicky could be available again following surgery on his broken nose. Jack Wilshere should recover from his ankle problem in time to face Liverpool next weekend, although Wales international Aaron Ramsey’s setback with his thigh injury means a longer recovery for him. Schalke remain confident Julian Draxler will not be leaving for Arsenal or anywhere else ahead of the transfer deadline – but Gunners boss Arsene Wenger maintains “in any hour, anything can happen”. Draxler is currently recovering from an ankle tendon problem and so would not be immediately available to boost Arsenal’s bid to get back ahead of Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League title race, or indeed for the upcoming Champions League tie against Bayern Munich. Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt told a news conference he was “very convinced” Draxler would remain at the Gelsenkirchen club for the second half of the season and “most probably beyond that”, insisting the Bundesliga side were “not interested in letting Julian leave” and also that the player had “not approached us about a transfer”. Wenger remains keen to bring in some offensive cover, although Mirko Vucinic’s agent insists the Montenegro international is set to stay at Juventus amid reports of a loan switch to the Emirates Stadium. “Are we active? Yes. Are we close to signing anybody? No,” Wenger told Arsenal Player. “There is not long now, that is true. “First, the situation was going like always in a transfer market – week by week. “In the last two weeks it goes day by day, now it goes hour by hour. “In any hour, anything can happen or change, but at the moment, unfortunately, we are not signing anybody.” Wenger claimed when speaking to the club’s in-house media on Thursday morning there were no imminent deals, with reports chief transfer negotiator Dick Law had travelled to Germany to push through a big-money deal for the promising German international. The Arsenal manager has long been an admirer of 20-year-old attacking midfielder Draxler, said to have a £37million buyout clause and who would go a long way to compensate for the loss of England forward Theo Walcott to a season-ending knee injury.
Chris Henry will stick to his ball-stealing strengths in his bid to offset the loss of “world-class” Sean O’Brien to Ireland’s RBS 6 Nations campaign. The 29-year-old said he will not try to mimic O’Brien’s rampaging style, favouring his natural breakdown abilities instead, especially against two of the finest turnover hunters in Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate. “There’s always going to be a lot of talk about Sean not being there, he’s one of the best in the world,” said Henry. “The only way I can approach it is to say, ‘yes he’s an unbelievable player, but I have to think maybe I can add something a little bit different, maybe there are certain aspects of the game I can bring that he can’t’. “Rugby’s horrible in that way when people get injured when you get your opportunity. “So for me, I certainly tried to give everything out there last week. “Hopefully that can be enough to stay in the side, but we’ll just have to wait and see.” Henry believes Saturday’s Wales clash could be completely dominated by the breakdown battle. Unless Ireland “blast out” captain Warburton and fellow scavenger Lydiate, they will struggle for control, he admitted. The Ulster flanker admitted any team would miss Leinster’s wrecking-ball loose-forward O’Brien, who may not play again this season after shoulder surgery. Henry slotted into Ireland’s back-row alongside Jamie Heaslip and Peter O’Mahony for Sunday’s 28-6 Scotland victory, and is expected to start against Wales this weekend. Press Association The Ulsterman remains Ireland’s premier turnover specialist though, and is confident Joe Schmidt’s side have enough prowess over the ball to cope with Wales’ approach. “Whatever back-row the Welsh team put out we already know they are world-class,” said Henry. “Their big thing is on defence and how quickly they get onto the poach, taking one tackler low and the other in position to get a solid threat in there. “It’s going to be something that we have to anticipate, get in there early and do a good job of blasting them out. “Warburton’s probably one of the best in the business, so we’ve got to be on the money. “Starting off with a win and to play alongside the likes of Jamie and Peter was fantastic. “They are both class players, and they are strong on the ball as well. “Will that performance from last week be enough to beat this Welsh team? Probably not, but we’re pretty realistic, we know that, we’re a bit fed up with an Irish team that performs one week and then doesn’t perform the next. “As a group of players we want to put that to bed, deliver performances every week and get results every week.” Ireland’s coaches have made a big play of highlighting their exemplary disciplinary record heading into the Six Nations in a bid to stay on the right side of the officials. Henry believes Ireland’s “clean” approach is worthy of mention, but admitted one of the biggest challenges in this campaign is to roll away quickly enough after a tackle. “If you want to win big games you’ve got to make smart decisions and keep the penalty count low,” he said. “I try to leave the talking to the captain, because referees won’t like you chirping too much, that’s something I’ve tried to work on! “The big thing now is to make sure you move after a tackle. “A lot of penalties were given last week for the tackler not rolling away. “Sometimes it’s very hard if you’re tackling in a certain position, it’s nearly impossible to get out of there – but that’s your responsibility as the tackler. “So for me personally that’s something I’ve tried to work on, so if I make a tackle I can get out of there quickly. “I think on the whole we were pretty clean last week, and we want to be a clean and honest team.”
Jonjo O’Neill won the Boylesports Irish Grand National for the second time in eight years as the well-backed 8-1 favourite Shutthefrontdoor prevailed in a thrilling finish at Fairyhouse. Lightly-weighted pair Toon River and Clar Na Mionn cut out the running for the first circuit, just ahead of Goonyella and Lion Na Bearnai, who was pulled-up in the Aintree version. Clar Na Mionn found himself coming under severe pressure with four fences left to jump, and he was swallowed up by the closing pack. O’Neill had last swooped in the 2007 renewal with Butler’s Cabin, while his latest hero had looked a novice chaser to follow in the early stages of this season but made mistakes as one of the leading contenders for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and had finished only sixth. O’Neill said: “He was in a great position all the way and jumped really well. Everything went right for him. He has done nothing wrong all season. “He had a great run at Cheltenham and after that we thought this was the race for him. Plan B didn’t work out too badly! “He will have good rest and is hopefully OK and we can look forward to next season. He needed a big leap at the last, he got it and battled on really well.” Press Association It was the first time Barry Geraghty had managed to get his hands on the famous prize, and he was close to the pace and travelling well in the JP McManus colours for most of the three miles and five furlongs. But the Dessie Hughes-trained Golden Wonder made an attempt to slip the field at the home turn and it was only on the short run-in that Shutthefrontdoor poked his head in front as Golden Wonder settled for second, just ahead of Saoirse Dun and Jamsie Hall.