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The Sport Matrix: Thursday 21 November 2013

Gerrard welcomes negativity as Terry return played down

England captain Steven Gerrard believes the dampening of expectations could benefit the side as they prepare for next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.

Two losses in a week led many to downplay England’s chances of success, something Gerrard (above) welcomes.

“I think it will be [helpful],” he said. “You go into a World Cup where people judge you fairly, they’re not blowing you up, there’s not too much pressure and expectation, I’m sure that will help us. These results will bring people a little bit down, there will be a bit of realism and perspective.”

Meanwhile, Hodgson has refuted suggestions John Terry could be handed a return to the national side. “We have played nine games without him, qualified without losing,” the coach said. “It is time for us to keep moving forward and not every time we lose turn back to someone who has been fantastic in the past.” MORE

Waugh: Don’t write Australia off yet

Former Australian batsman Mark Waugh is confident his country will be competitive in the Ashes series, which began this morning. “This contest is very even,” he said. “There’s not much between them. I think we’re still a decent side, we’re still very competitive.” MORE

Rovers hopeful of an Indian summer

Gary Bowyer is confident Blackburn are on the right track after years of upheaval. “We’re trying very hard to put things right,” the Rovers manager said. “It won’t happen overnight. There is a sense of understanding from everybody involved. We have to keep on improving.”

Brazil-bound: 32 sides await draw

Last night’s play-off in Montevideo confirmed the last of the 32 countries for next month’s World Cup finals draw. Bosnia are the only debutants as Spain look for a fourth straight major title. Jack Pitt-Brooke examines the make up of the pots and who has most to hope and fear. MORE

Image overhaul inspired Ronaldo

There has been an image makeover in the last 12 months for Cristiano Ronaldo and his real personality has broken through to win over many of the previously unconverted. Respect has been earned and he has stopped taking himself so seriously. MORE

Miller leaves role in good health

National selector Geoff Miller is confident he is stepping down at the right time as his final series got underway today. “We’re in a very strong position,” he said. “And have good people working for us. It’s rolling nicely. Everything has its time.” MORE

England to play Kiwis and Jamaica

England are to play New Zealand and Jamaica in London in January as part of their preparations for the Commonwealth Games. A tri-series will be held between 17-20 January before Jamaica provide the opposition at Stratford on 21 January.

Sydney revisited, 10 years on...

Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of England’s momentous World Cup victory over Australia in Sydney. Robin Scott-Elliot revisits that night at the Telstra Stadium, talking to players, coaches, fans and the referee from that evening. MORE

Scotland warned  of same mistakes

Scott Johnson has warned Scotland that they will struggle against Australia if they repeat the mistakes they made against South Africa. “We let ourselves down,” the interim coach said. “Against top teams you can rarely make mistakes.” MORE

Murray shows off picture of health

Andy Murray displayed evidence of his recovery from back surgery after posting a picture of himself training on Facebook. The Scot has not played for two months and has yet to decide if he will be at the Australian Open.

Steve Bunce

Even a Carl Froch in gentle decline appears to have too much for George Groves. However, it is the unknown elements, the tiny signs impossible to measure, that make this fight so intriguing. MORE

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