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The Sports Matrix: Tuesday 19 June 2012


Hodgson ponders playing Walcott from the start

Roy Hodgson is set to start with Theo Walcott in tonight's final Group D game against Ukraine, after the Arsenal winger was passed fit. England only need a draw in Donetsk to reach the quarter-finals but they need to win the group – by bettering France's result – if they are to avoid Spain, the European and world champions.

It is with a view to having the defensively-minded James Milner rested for such a quarter-final that Hodgson is set to select Walcott. The Arsenal player made a crucial impact as a substitute against Sweden on Friday, scoring one goal and making another. He is yet to start a tournament game for England.

Wayne Rooney will start after serving a two-match ban, replacing Andy Carroll up front. Ukraine's manager, Oleg Blokhin, said the veteran striker Andrei Shevchenko was "50-50" to start, because of a knee problem.

Hodgson said the 3-2 win over Sweden had raised expectations.

"You play, at international level, to try and get people carried away" he said. "Dreaming is what this is all about." MORE

City helped by fixture computer

Manchester City have been helped by the 2012-13 Premier League fixtures, released yesterday. City will play just one away game after a Champions League group match; Manchester United will travel after playing in Europe five out of six times. MORE

Navas saves Spain on nervous night

Spain won Group C last night with a tense 1-0 victory over Croatia. The substitute Jesus Navas scored the only goal with two minutes left but for most of the game the champions looked vulnerable against a spirited Croatian side who defended well. MORE

Italy also reach quarter-finals

Italy joined Spain in the last eight after beating the Republic of Ireland 2-0 in Poznan. Antonio Cassano headed Italy in front before the substitute Mario Balotelli's late overhead-kick sent Italy through to face the winners of Group D on Sunday night. MORE

Nasri: France can make up for 2010

Samir Nasri hopes that France can atone for the failure of the 2010 World Cup tonight by beating Sweden and reaching the quarter-finals: "Our fans have not forgiven us yet but we will do everything to change that. We have tried hard for the past two years." MORE

England to mark death of Maynard

England will wear black armbands for today's one-day international against West Indies at The Oval, as a mark of respect for Tom Maynard, the 23-year-old Surrey batsman who died yesterday. There will also be a minute's silence. MORE

Thumb injury rules out Robshaw

The England captain, Chris Robshaw, is out of the Third Test against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth this weekend. The hooker Dylan Hartley will lead the team. Coach Stuart Lancaster said Robshaw was "terribly disappointed". MORE

Nalbandian fined £8,000 for kick

David Nalbandian was fined the maximum €10,000 (£8,000) after he defaulted from the final of the Aegon Championship at Queen's Club, for kicking a hoarding. Police are investigating the incident, which cut the leg of a line judge. MORE

Frankel backed to win at Royal Ascot

Frankel is a very strong favourite for victory in the Queen Anne Stakes (2.30) at the opening of Royal Ascot this afternoon. Excelebration is the next best contender – Frankel has comfortably beaten him four times. MORE

Opinion: James Lawton

Although England should be able to beat Ukraine tonight, they are not serious contenders for crown. This is not to damn Roy Hodgson, but they were barely better than a poor Swedish team. MORE