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The Sport Matrix: Wednesday 19 June 2013

Tuilagi the latest Tour doubt as Lions suffer rare defeat

Doubts rose last night over the fitness of Manu Tuilagi as the British and Irish Lions approach Saturday’s first Test with Australia.

The 22-year-old, right, is struggling with a shoulder and neck injury, and is unlikely to feature this weekend, where he had been earmarked as an impact replacement. Coach Warren Gatland also has problems over Tommy Bowe, Jamie Roberts and George North.

Preparations for Saturday concluded with a dispiriting 14-12 defeat to ACT Brumbies yesterday. Two penalties apiece from Stuart Hogg and Owen Farrell were not enough to prevent a first provincial loss for the Lions in 16 years. MORE

Dawn Approach in thrilling Ascot win

Dawn Approach was victorious in the St James’s Palace Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot yesterday, beating Toronado in a photo finish and coming through a steward’s enquiry. Animal Kingdom came a miserable 11th in the Queen Anne Stakes. MORE

Cook: we are set for next Trophy test

Alastair Cook believes England’s victory against New Zealand last weekend can give his side confidence in today’s Champions Trophy semi-final against South Africa. “Cardiff was a good test,” he said, “to see where we were in terms of having to deliver under pressure.” MORE

Froome with a view on Tour leadership

Chris Froome admits Sir Bradley Wiggins’ withdrawal from the Tour de France has saved him from fielding endless questions regarding the Team Sky leadership. “A lot of people would have still been asking,” he said. “In that respect it’s made our lives a lot simpler.” MORE

Arrival casts doubt over Pardew future

Joe Kinnear was yesterday confirmed as Newcastle United’s director of football, putting manager Alan Pardew’s role in doubt. “Joe will report directly to the board as the senior executive in charge of all football-related matters,” the club said. “Pardew will report in to Joe.” MORE

McEnroe: Murray better when happy

John McEnroe feels a positive outlook has benefited Andy Murray’s game. “Murray’s first step was the right one: to clean up that part [the negative energy] and get away from that, not being so negative,” McEnroe said. “That has helped him.” MORE

De Villiers: England swing a concern

South Africa captain AB de Villiers has admitted England’s success in getting the ball to reverse swing has raised eyebrows. “If they are doing something funny with the ball, then it’s definitely a concern,” he said. “But we’ve got no proof of that.” MORE

Alberto closes in on Liverpool move

Liverpool are close to completing a £6m deal for Spanish midfielder Luis Alberto from Seville. Manager Brendan Rodgers is confident a deal will be done after the La Liga side’s sporting director, Ramon Verdejo, said an initial Liverpool offer was “very good”.

Sunderland owner in badge stunt

Sunderland owner Ellis Short has been pictured wearing a pin badge with an insulting message to Newcastle. Short was pictured with a badge with the initials FTM (F*** the Mags) on his suit when showing the Tanzania president around the training ground.

Five-time winner Venus out of SW19

Five-time champion Venus Williams has pulled out of Wimbledon because of a back injury. “I will not be able to participate,” the 33-year-old said last night. “I am extremely disappointed as I have always loved the Championships.”

Hannah England

I love this time of year. I’ve done a bit of international racing, now it’s home time. I love each time I pull on a GB vest. I make sure I appreciate that experience every time – you don’t know when it will be your last. MORE

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