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The Sport Matrix: Tuesday 8 October 2013

Blow for Hodgson as Cole ruled out of crucial qualifiers

Ashley Cole will miss England’s two World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland after having failed to come through a test on a long-term injured rib, the first casualty of manager Roy Hodgson’s squad as he begins preparations this week.

Cole was replaced in the squad yesterday by the Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs, who joined up with the rest of the England players at St George’s Park. However, Cole’s place in the team will be taken by Leighton Baines.

The problem with Cole’s rib was made worse after he aggravated the injury against Norwich City on Sunday and had to be substituted. Cole went for a scan on the problem and the decision was taken that it was advisable not to risk the player given what is at stake in the two games beginning with Montenegro on Friday and Poland four days later.

Baines, 28, who has 19 caps, has had his chances limited because of Cole’s pre-eminence. He has started just four competitive games for England, all in the current qualifying campaign, and two of them have been against San Marino. MORE

Poyet takes charge at Sunderland

Sunderland have named former Brighton manager Gus Poyet as their new head coach on a three-year contract. Poyet will bring with him the staff he worked with at Brighton – his assistant Mauricio Taricco, coach Charlie Oatway and goalkeeping coach Andy Beasley. MORE

Richards: I won’t ‘beg’ for call-up

Manchester City defender Micah Richards, who has been frozen out of the England set-up, has said that he will not “beg” Roy Hodgson to select him and the 25-year-old, who made his England debut seven years ago, does not want to be regarded as a “charity case”. MORE

Coleman hit by mass withdrawals

Wales manager Chris Coleman has been hit by a five more withdrawals from his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Belgium. They include Swansea’s Ben Davies and Wolves’ Sam Ricketts, adding to the list of absentees which features Gareth Bale. MORE

Michu’s Spanish dream comes true

Swansea’s Michu has spoken of his delight after winning his first call-up to the Spain squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Georgia. “Every Spanish footballer dreams of this [call-up] and it’s so difficult,” he said. “Let’s see if fortune is with me and I can play.” MORE

Grant replaces Robertson

Conservative MP Helen Grant has been named sports minister, replacing Hugh Robertson, who joins the Foreign Office. Bill Sweeney, meanwhile, has been named as the British Olympic Association’s new chief executive officer. MORE

Italy to host final – if cup is not empty 

Heineken Cup organisers say the 2015 final will be played at San Siro in Milan. But with clubs in England and France standing by their decision to quit the competition in seven months’ time, there is not guarantee it will be held at all. MORE

Watson surrenders title with early exit

British No 2 Heather Watson’s defence of her Japan Open title ended with a first-round 6-4, 6-4 defeat by Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig. Having slipped to No 92 in the world rankings, Watson will drop out of the top 100 in next week’s updated list. MORE

Giro takes spin round Ireland

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will host the first three days of next year’s Giro d’Italia. The race, one of the three major Grand Tours, will begin with a 21.7km team time trial starting at the Titanic Belfast Museum on 9 May. MORE

Treve to return on trail of second Arc

Trainer Criquette Head-Maarek confirmed her Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Treve will stay in training as a four-year-old next season to defend her Longchamp title. She said: “She is just an amazing filly.” MORE

Rising in the East

China is determined to become a world power in tennis and, after Li Na’s success, the country yearns for leading men’s players, as Tennis Correspondent Paul Newman explains. MORE

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