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The Sports Matrix: Friday 4 January 2013


Football: Balotelli's future in jeopardy after ugly row with Mancini

Mario Balotelli jeopardised his relationship with the one figure at Manchester City who has supported him throughout his troubled time in England when he became involved in an extraordinary shoving match with City's manager, Roberto Mancini, at the club's training ground yesterday.

The open nature of City's training complex at Carrington meant that the embarrassing episode was captured by photographers. Pictures show Mancini reacting angrily to Balotelli kicking out at Scott Sinclair and ordering the player to leave the training ground. Balotelli, above, refuses and his manager tries, unsuccessfully, to drag him away.

The two are separated by coaches Brian Kidd and Massimo Battara and the player belatedly goes in to change. The City manager will announce today whether he intends to fine Balotelli.

The feeling at the club was that the 22-year-old striker would still be in the squad for tomorrow's FA Cup third-round tie against Watford, although Mancini has given himself time to reflect on the incident. MORE

Football: Edinburgh derby ends in stalemate

Hearts and Hibernian played out a goalless draw at Tynecastle in the final game before the Scottish Premier League winter break. Eoin Doyle went close for the away side, while Hearts striker John Sutton saw his header hit the bar late on as both teams failed to find a winner.

Football: Rodgers ready to shift Suarez's role

Luis Suarez is likely to lose his position as Liverpool's central striker to Daniel Sturridge. Manager Brendan Rodgers said Suarez would play "for the common good of the team", which is likely to be either on the left of a three-man attack or as a No 10, behind Sturridge. MORE

Football: Boateng walks off after racial abuse

Kevin-Prince Boateng, the Ghanaian midfielder born in Germany, made a widely applauded stand against racism yesterday, walking off the pitch when racially abused while playing in a friendly for Milan against Pro Patria in Italy. MORE

Football: Pardew pleaded board for Debuchy

Alan Pardew said he had to persuade the Newcastle board to break their policy of not recruiting players over the age of 25 to sign France right-back Mathieu Debuchy for £.4.7 million from Lille. Pardew said: "He's 27 so you could argue we have broken that [policy] already." MORE

Football: Lampard's agent confirms Blues exit

Frank Lampard's agent, Steve Kutner, has revealed the 34-year-old midfielder will definitely leave Chelsea in the summer, when his contract expires. "The only certainty is that he will change team at the end of the season," Kutner was reported as saying. "Frank wants to play for a great side."

Tennis: Murray labours to narrow victory

Andy Murray narrowly avoided the wrath of his coach, Ivan Lendl, after labouring to a 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Australian qualifier John Millman, the 199th-ranked player, in the world No 3's opening match at the Brisbane International. MORE

Cricket: India suffer series loss to Pakistan

England will face a wounded India next week after Nasir Jamshed's second consecutive century clinched Pakistan a one-day series victory yesterday. India slumped to an 85-run loss in Kolkata to go 2-0 down in the three-match series. MORE

Football: Wenger frustrated by transfer market

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger admitted that he is less inclined to risk signing unknown players who may develop into stars because fans "want to see Lionel Messi" and that the club are struggling to find recruits in the transfer market. MORE

Rugby union: Croft to press case for England place

Flanker Tom Croft will press his case for inclusion in the 32-man England squad for the Six Nations, due to be announced next Wednesday, if he impresses in his return for Leicester against Worcester tonight. MORE

Interview: Julia Bleasdale

After making her breakthrough at the London Olympics, Britain's distance runner tells Simon Turnbull about her decision to train in Ethiopia in a bid to further her career. MORE