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The Sports Matrix: Thursday 23 February 2012


Pearce to call up youngsters to face Netherlands

The England caretaker manager Stuart Pearce is expected to grant opportunities to young players when he names his squad this morning for next week's friendly against the Netherlands.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is unlikely to be picked, but the fit-again Tom Cleverley, 22, should be included. Pearce knows the United player well from his role as Under-21 manager, as well as the other likely inclusions Daniel Sturridge, Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck and Kyle Walker.

Some more experienced players have been told by Pearce that they will not be considered for today's squad. Pearce has told Jermain Defoe, Joleon Lescott, Michael Dawson, Phil Jagielka, Peter Crouch and Bobby Zamora they will not be selected. John Terry is injured. MORE

Aguero leads City spree against Porto

Manchester City reached the Europa League last 16 last night, beating Porto 4-0 at home and 6-1 over two legs. Sergio Aguero put City ahead after just 20 seconds, before making the second for Edin Dzeko. David Silva and David Pizarro scored late on. MORE

Ivanovic: We must all pull together

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic has urged the players and coach Andre Villas-Boas to put the club ahead of any personal arguments: "This is more about Chelsea. More important than the relationship between managers and players. Chelsea has to be first." MORE

Downing: Anfield life a culture shock

Stewart Downing admits that adapting to Liverpool has been a "culture shock". "It has been a bit up and down," he said. "I have been on the bench sometimes, that has been hard to get used to." He hopes to play "some part" in Sunday's Carling Cup final. MORE

Ferguson hails 'clever' Cleverley

Tom Cleverley is due to start his first home game since August when Manchester United play against Ajax in the Europa League tonight. "He's a very clever footballer," Sir Alex Ferguson said. "He has got a brain. He gives us more ammunition." MORE

Cook may play in T20 opener

England's Twenty20 series against Pakistan, the final leg of their tour, starts tonight. Alastair Cook is likely to play, having been recalled to the T20 squad as cover for Ravi Bopara, although Bopara did train yesterday, while Cook missed voluntary nets. MORE

Foden ready to adapt for Wales

Ben Foden admits he may have to "tighten his game" for the visit of Wales this weekend after his errors marred the victory in Italy earlier this month. "I didn't have my best game against Italy," he said. "It will be a test of character to bounce back." MORE

Robinson hands debut to teenager

Andy Robinson has named Stuart Hogg in his side to face France on Sunday as he tries to end a run of four defeats. "He has that ability to handle international rugby," the manager said of the 19-year-old, Scotland's first teenager since Gregor Townsend in 1993. MORE

Rock keeps rolling over great Scott

Two late birdies helped Robert Rock beat world No 8 Adam Scott in the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. "It's been a remarkable few weeks," the 34-year-old, who also beat Tiger Woods in Abu Dhabi last month, said. MORE

Opinion: Lewis Moody

England must continue to be realistic for the game Twickenham on Saturday. They must admit that Wales are favourites. To win, they must take it to the Welsh, get the home crowd on their side and do the basics right. MORE