The Sport Matrix: Tuesday 12 March 2013


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The Independent Online

Chelsea face messy fixture congestion with FA Cup replay

Chelsea are facing a potential fixture pile up if they come through their Europa League match with Steaua Bucharest on Thursday. The Stamford Bridge club, managed by Rafa Benitez, below, cannot rearrange their FA Cup replay against Manchester United for next week because of the international break.

That means the tie is likely to be as late as April. If it is played on the weekend of 6 April, the Premier League would have to postpone Chelsea v Sunderland on the Saturday, and Manchester United v Manchester City on the Monday.

Chelsea meet Southampton on Sunday 31 March and could then play the quarter-final of the Europa League on Thursday 4 April, followed by the FA Cup replay with Manchester United two or three days later.

The semi-finals of the FA Cup are due for 13 and 14 April at Wembley Stadium.

McDermott sacked as Royals manager

Paolo Do Canio is among the frontrunners for the Reading manager's post after Brian McDermott was sacked with the club 19th in the Premier League having lost their last four games. Nigel Adkins and Roberto Di Matteo are also favourites with bookmakers for the job. MORE

Zarkandar could top Hurricane Fly

The first championship race of the week at the Cheltenham Festival, today's Stan James Champion Hurdle, lacks an obvious front-runner, with Ireland's 2011 winner Hurricane Fly and Zarkandar, trained by Paul Nicholls, likely to battle for the crown.

Festival gets under way amid big chill

Cheltenham racecourse officials remain confident that the four-day Festival, which opens today, will not be affected as a consequence of sub-zero temperatures, despite a wind-chill factor of -10C yesterday. Frost covers are likely to be redeployed later this evening.

Burns to fight two causes after switch

WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns will fight in Glasgow on 11 May after signing with promoter Eddie Hearn. However, Frank Warren has announced he will be suing Burns after the fighter switched promoters.

Ferdinand could return for England

England manager Roy Hodgson is weighing up the possibility of bringing Rio Ferdinand back into the squad, as the manager deals with two key absentees in central defence for the vital World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro later this month.

Watson presents resignation case

Australia vice-captain Shane Watson is considering his future after being left out for the third Test against India. Watson, along with three others, was omitted after failing to provide a team strategy presentation to coach Mickey Arthur. MORE

Gerrard pursues European place

Steven Gerrard has said a top-five finish would allow him to call this season a success and guarantee the European football the club craves. "Liverpool do not belong seventh, eighth or ninth in the table," he said. "Hopefully we are not too late." MORE

Murray swerves a third desert dump

Andy Murray was nearly defeated in the desert for a third straight year but managed to see off Russia's Evgeny Donskoy in the second round at Indian Wells yesterday morning. The Briton battled past world No 83 Donskoy 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.

Hull are back in the promotion places

Steve Bruce's Hull City moved back into second place in the Championship with a 1-0 victory at Burnley last night. Winger Stephen Quinn scored the only goal of the game in the 66th minute. It ended a run of three away defeats for Hull.

Interview Lewis Hamilton

"I feel I can express myself a bit more. I have come from a really controlled environment," says the former world champion, who features for Mercedes in Sunday's Aust-ralian Grand Prix. MORE