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The Sport Matrix: Friday 29 March 2013

Liverpool warned top-four target is too much pressure

Sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, who has been employed by Liverpool to replicate the methods which have played a huge part in British Cycling's Olympic success, has urged the club to make a Premier League title or top-four finish an aspiration rather than a concrete goal.

Dr Peters, above, said 10 players have sought him out and that he believes the 23-man first-team squad will only heap unnecessary pressure on themselves by targeting a specific league position.

"A goal is something you must be able to control and you can't control [your place] in the league," he said. "It depends on how others play, not just you. You always like to influence things and influence as much as you can but accept that most things in life are a dream. They're not guaranteed to happen."

The 59-year-old Sheffield University scientist was hired last October to work a day per week with Liverpool and was subsequently also appointed to work for UK Athletics with performance director Neil Black. INTERVIEW

Swann targets return in April

Graeme Swann hopes to return to competitive action "by the end of April" as he steps up his recovery from elbow surgery. He flew home from the tour of New Zealand to undergo an operation on his right elbow. MORE

Quins gamble by resting Robshaw

Chris Robshaw is a surprising omission from the Harlequins squad to face Gloucester this evening, with director Conor O'Shea opting to rest the England captain. Luke Wallace, a 22-year-old academy product, is set to take his place. MORE

Martinez lauds McManaman

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez believes English striker Callum McManaman "can bring something to the national team" in the future. McManaman was criticised for his high tackle on Newcastle's Massadio Haïdara two weeks ago. page 61

England fans reported to Fifa

England's supporters have been reported to Fifa by European football's anti-racist watchdog Fare for alleged racist chanting about absent defender Rio Ferdinand during the World Cup qualifying match in San Marino last Friday. MORE

AVB hopeful for Kaboul's return

Andre Villas-Boas believes Spurs need 16 points from their last eight Premier League games to ensure they retain fourth place and qualify for the Champions League. He also hopes Younes Kaboul will be match-fit in "10 to 15 days". MORE

Diaby on sidelines for nine months

The Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby has been ruled out for nine months after injuring his left knee in training on Wednesday. Scans have revealed Diaby has a torn anterior cruciate ligament, with surgery keeping the 26-year-old out for the rest of the year. MORE

Mancini furious over Kompany

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini criticised Belgium for fielding Vincent Kompany for 90 minutes against FYR Macedonia, even though he had only recently returned from injury. "[He] didn't play for 60 days, then went to play for Belgium," Mancini said. "I did not agree." MORE

Westwood excels with new putter

Lee Westwood struck an impressive seven birdies in his opening 68 at the Shell Houston Open yesterday, three of those coming in the opening five holes. Rory McIlroy needs to win the competition to regain top spot in the world rankings from Tiger Woods. MORE

Interview: Cesar Azpilicueta

Defender has impressed at Chelsea and, ahead of crucial games against Manchester United and Rubin Kazan, the club fans' favourite says he is happy being called "Dave" by his new supporters. MORE

Master Murray into Miami semis

The world No 3 Andy Murray progressed to the semi-finals of the Miami Masters with a straight-sets victory over Marin Cilic last night. The Scot took the opening set 6-4 before clinching the second 6-3. Murray will now face Richard Gasquet or Tomas Berdych. MORE

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