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The Sport Matrix: Friday 2 May 2014

City defy Hodgson over resting stars before World Cup

Manchester City are to defy a request by England manager Roy Hodgson that members of his World Cup squad are not involved in post-season friendlies before the tournament by taking Joe Hart and James Milner to Abu Dhabi later this month.

Hodgson (above) has set his stall out against the new practice of clubs filling the period of time up to 19 May, when Fifa stipulates international sides have precedence over the players, and repeated that message this week.

There has been broad agreement from the Premier League, although it is understood City will take Hart and Milner, two stalwarts of Hodgson’s squad, to Abu Dhabi as part of the build-up for the friendly against the United Arab Emirates’ side Al Ain on 15 May. The pair are not expected to play in the game.

The FA had hoped that the week, after the end of the Premier League programme and leading up the FA Cup final, would be kept free for the players to relax before they embark on the first  pre-tournament training camp in Portugal. MORE

Fans celebrate life of Senna at Imola

As part of the 20th anniversary pageant to mark Ayrton Senna’s passing, the Circuit di Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola opened its gates to those paying their respects to Senna and Roland Ratzenberger. Tamburello corner where he crashed was awash with tributes. MORE

Luiz calls for Blues to show character

David Luiz feels it is vital that Chelsea show their character following their Champions League semi-final exit this week. “We are a big club and we want to win trophies,” Luiz said. “But the most important thing is the personalities. We need to fight in many situations.” MORE

Seville to face Benfica in final

Seville will play Benfica in the Europa League final in Turin on 14 May. Stéphane Mbia, on loan from QPR, struck the crucial away goal for Seville, who lost 3-1 last night but went through on away goals. Benfica held Juventus to a goalless draw following their 2-1 first-leg victory.

City chief: players don’t like Van Gaal

Manchester City chief executive, Ferran Soriano, has described Louis van Gaal, the favourite to replace David Moyes at United, as a manager who players don’t like and who they want to kill when the team starts to lose. He also said his management style was “difficult”. MORE

Cook steps in to tell Gooch bad news

Batting coach Graham Gooch yesterday became the first member of England’s backroom staff to be sacked since the reappointment of Peter Moores, but it was Alastair Cook rather than Moores who informed Gooch of his dismissal. MORE

Hendry: Robertson a major title threat

Stephen Hendry, the seven-time world champion, feels Neil Robertson is a threat to Ronnie O’Sullivan winning a sixth Crucible crown. Hendry said: “If you take Ronnie O’Sullivan out of the equation Neil is the best player in the world.”

Amir Khan

The British boxer fights Luis Collazo in Vegas tomorrow, knowing a win could secure a bout with Floyd Mayweather. And Khan, now 27, tells Steve Bunce why he cannot afford to make any mistakes. MORE

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