The Sports Matrix: Thursday 29 December 2011

 

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Dalglish defends Carroll ahead of visit of old side

The Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish, has again leapt to the defence of out-of-form striker Andy Carroll as the forward prepares to face his former side Newcastle United tomorrow. The 22-year-old has struggled to justify his £35m price tag since arriving from the Tyneside club in January, scoring just five goals in 23 games – and earning as many bookings – amid a number of off-field problems, but the England international is expected to start at Anfield tomorrow following the one-game suspension handed to strike partner Luis Suarez yesterday. "Some people have got a fertile imagination about the lifestyle that big Andy leads, compared to the one that we know he leads," Dalglish said of his forward. "He's a bit unfortunate in that he attracts a bit of attention to himself from [the press]. Every week there's questions. This time it's understandable but I don't understand the rest of the stuff." MORE

Ledley king as Celtic edge derby

Celtic moved top of the table for the first time this season after edging out Rangers 1-0 at Celtic Park. A Joe Ledley header early in the second half was enough to take Neil Lennon's side two points above Rangers in a game played in high winds. MORE

Bale: We've learnt from Europe's elite

Gareth Bale believes last season's exploits in the Champions League have benefited Tottenham in the current campaign. "We learnt a lot as a team which we've brought into this season," he said. "We learnt from the big teams and have adopted that style." MORE

O'Neill takes over Northern Ireland

Michael O'Neill was yesterday announced as the new Northern Ireland manager, succeeding Nigel Worthington, who resigned in October. The 42-year-old, who made his name with Shamrock Rovers, is believed to be earning around £225,000 a year. MORE

FA prepare lengthy Suarez judgement

The Football Association's judgement on Liverpool forward Luis Suarez's eight-match suspension will be one of the biggest in the association's history. The striker was punished following comments made to Manchester United's Patrice Evra in October. MORE

Record crowd points to success

The record 82,000 crowd at Tuesday's "Big Game" at Twickenham indicated the current strength of the domestic game. "The Premiership has never been in a stronger position," Mark McCafferty, chief executive of Premier Rugby, said. MORE

'Make a mistake and the day's done'

Liam Phillips admits that part of the attraction of BMX is the high potential for spectacular accidents. "If you make a mistake, the day's done," the British Olympic hopeful admitted. "That's probably what appeals to the public – the crashes." MORE

South Africa face mounting deficit

South Africa have a huge task to save the second Test against Sri Lanka in Durban. After being dropped early on, Kumar Sangakkara made 108, helping the tourists end day three on 256 for 7 in their second innings, with a lead of 426 runs. MORE

Clarke left to fill the Open gap

Darren Clarke has admitted he has struggled for motivation since his Open success in July. "Royal St George's made me understand how winning a great prize can al-most taunt you, if you don't reach those standards every week," the 43-year-old told i. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

With Gareth Bale – of whom Luis Figo said, "he is amazing, he killed us [Internazionale]" – it is possible to believe Spurs might defy the financial might of Manchester City and the winning tradition of Manchester United. MORE

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