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The Sport Matrix: Tuesday 15 October 2013

Gerrard: I’m ready to banish those nightmares of 2007

Steven Gerrard is desperate to avoid another night of heartbreak when England take on Poland in tonight’s must-win match at Wembley.

England took a big step towards World Cup qualification on Friday when they beat Montenegro 4-1, but if they do not beat Poland, they will almost certainly be looking to the play-offs to book their ticket to Brazil.

Gerrard is one of the four current members of the England squad who played in a similar game six years ago when England needed a point at Wembley against Croatia to make it to Euro 2008. The visitors won 3-2.

“It’s a memory I’ll struggle to reject,” Gerrard said, “a memory that I’ll have to take to the grave with me. One of the lowest moments of my international journey. I hope that we don’t get back to that.

“I’d never ever try to scare a young lad but I think it’s important they are aware how big this is,” Gerrard said. “To know what’s at stake, and we need to seize this moment. We need to look back at this with a smile.”

For manager Roy Hodgson, the past is irrelevant. “The words Croatia and 2007 have never been mentioned, it’s of no interest”, he said. MORE

England hopeful over Townsend

Roy Hodgson said yesterday that Andros Townsend had picked up an injury in training but is optimistic that he will play in tonight’s must-win World Cup qualifier against Poland. “He took a knock so we will still monitor that but we are very hopeful.” MORE

Hodgson: Our fans will outsing theirs

Roy Hodgson has accepted that the allocation of 18,000 tickets to Poland fans could help the visitors at Wembley, but said he understood the reasons. “Our players are pretty used to playing in matches where the opponents have a large number of fans.”

Ferguson humbled by street honour

A road next to Manchester United’s Old Trafford has been renamed Sir Alex Ferguson Way in honour of the club’s long-serving manager, who retired in May after nearly 27 years in charge. The 71-year-old said: “To have a part of Trafford carrying my name is truly humbling.”

Jamaica faces audit for doping failures

The alleged failure of Jamaica’s anti-doping agency to adequately screen athletes in the run-up to the London Olympics is to be the subject of an “extraordinary audit” by the World Anti-Doping Authority. Since the Games, five Jamaicans have returned positive tests for banned substances.

Idowu misses out on Lottery funding

Former triple jump world champion Phillips Idowu is one of several high-profile British athletes to lose Lottery funding for 2013-14 after missing the World Championships in Moscow. Former world medallists Andy Turner, Jenny Meadows and Lisa Dobriskey were also dropped.

Tremlett: England will scale heights

As England’s giant pace attack prepares to leave for an assault on a fourth straight Ashes win, Chris Tremlett believes the tall order is well within reach. “You look at the guys who are there, in terms of height, you’ve probably got the four tallest guys on the circuit.” MORE

Derby winner Camelot retired

Three-time Classic winner Camelot has been retired from racing and will stand at Coolmore for next year’s breeding season. Camelot who won last year’s 2,000 Guineas, Derby and Irish Derby, was found to be lame yesterday, days before the Champion Stakes. MORE

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