Football: Hughes signs five-year deal with Arsenal

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The Independent Online
STEPHEN HUGHES, who scored twice against Chelsea on Sunday, has finally signed a new five-year contract with Arsenal. Arsene Wenger, the Highbury manager, said: "It is important to keep talented young players at the club. I am looking to build for the future and Stephen is an important part of that future."

Wenger also said yesterday he was "very hopeful" that Ian Wright would be fit to face Crystal Palace in the FA Cup on Sunday, while Dennis Bergkamp's fear of flying means he will not be travelling with Marc Overmars for the Netherlands' matches in the United States and Mexico, and so will be available for Arsenal's league game against Palace the following weekend.

Christian Gross, the Tottenham manager, yesterday pulled Chris Armstrong out of a reserve game to ensure the striker was fit to make his first senior start since November against Leicester at White Hart Lane on Saturday. Gross has to lead his attack with Armstrong, although he is not yet 100 per cent fit, because Jurgen Klinsmann, Les Ferdinand, Steffen Iversen and Rory Allen are all injured.

Klinsmann yesterday returned to training for the first time since fracturing his jaw a week ago and Gross expects the German to be playing again in about three weeks' time. There was good news for Ferdinand as well, after his damaged ligament turned out to be bruised, not torn as first feared.

Manchester United have put back the kick-off of their Good Friday match against Liverpool at Old Trafford by half an hour after religious groups objected to the original 3pm start, because that is the time they commemorate Christ's death.

Alex McLeish has swapped one struggling Scottish Premier Division side for another, after he left Motherwell to become the new manager of Hibernian yesterday.

Chris Kamara, the Stoke manager, is encouraging his players to defend at set pieces by fining them for not marking. He said: "Players are given a specific job to mark an opponent at set pieces. If they don't do that and it costs us points, it is going to cost them money."

The United States defeated Brazil for the first time on Tuesday, beating the world champions 1-0 in the semi-final of the Concacaf Gold Cup in Los Angeles. The goal, from Predrag Radosavljevic, the former Everton and Portsmouth forward, not only put the Americans in the final of the 10-nation tournament, but was the first by a US player against Brazil in 68 years.

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