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The Sport Matrix: Monday 14 October 2013

Baines seeks to capitalise on Cole’s England absence

Leighton Baines says he is determined to make the most of Ashley Cole’s injury-enforced absence from England’s final World Cup qualifier against Poland tomorrow.

The Everton left-back has started more of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers than Cole and impressed in Friday’s victory over Montenegro. “These games are a great opportunity for me,” Baines (above) admitted.

“It’s been stop-start for me, although the last 18 months has been better in terms of playing. It’s tough for the manager because if you were in his shoes, you’ve got a great player in Ash; if it’s not broke, you don’t fix it.

“Ash has this wealth of experience. That’s something I’m never going to get, really. But hopefully the manager has confidence in me.” MORE

Sky Blues put the Blades to the sword

A Leon Clarke double helped Coventry City to a 3-2 win over Sheffield United yesterday, leaving the managerless visitors adrift at the bottom of League One. Steven Pressley’s team surged into a three-goal lead, with United’s late fightback ultimately in vain. MORE

Dominant Vettel closing in on No 4

Sebastian Vettel is within touching distance of a fourth consecutive world title after winning the Japanese Grand Prix yesterday. The German beat Mark Webber to the flag and a fifth place in India next week will see the Red Bull driver retain his crown. MORE

Jubilant Joyce leads British 2-3

Great Britain had two representatives on the podium at the World Championship in Hawaii, Rachel Joyce finishing second ahead of Liz Blatchford. “I gave it my all,” she said. “You can’t ask for any more.” MORE

Cardiff cut down to size by Exeter

Exeter sprung a major surprise in their opening Heineken Cup match yesterday, beating highly-fancied Cardiff 44-29 at Sandy Park. The hosts ran in five tries during a first-half blitz to increase the pressure on Cardiff coach Phil Davies. MORE

Captain’s innings sees tourists home

Australia took the honours in the opening one-day international in Pune yesterday, overcoming hosts India by 72 runs. Captain George Bailey’s 85 helped the tourists post 304 for 8, before dismissing India for 232, James Faulkner taking three wickets. MORE

Opinion: Sam Wallace

Roy Hodgson’s England players require one last win tomorrow against Poland and, to use the language of the defeated talent show  contestant, it has been one hell of a journey. MORE

Murray keeps family hopes alive

Jamie Murray could ensure his family have some representation at next month’s Tour Finals after all, following brother Andy’s injury. The elder Murray reached the last four of the Shanghai Masters doubles and could yet qualify for the O2. MORE

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