Roy Hodgson has crossed swords with England's former Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce, who believes
he should have been given a stronger squad at the European Championship in Israel earlier this summer. Instead, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker and Danny Welbeck were included in the senior squad for two friendlies and England's youngsters lost all three group matches. Last week Pearce, whose contract was not renewed as a result, suggested leaving all players in their own age groups to give England a better chance at tournaments. Hodgson, however, responded, saying: "It would go against everything we've ever done in the past. Because in the past I have never seen an England team choose players to win an Under-21 tournament and not use them in the senior team when they're ready. If that's what the Football Association want, I'm fine by it. But it would break a mould. It's the senior team above all that counts. When you're not a senior team manager, your job is to develop players for the senior team."
Barca give up the chase for Luiz and Agger
Gerard Martino, the Barcelona coach, has admitted defeat in his bid to sign David Luiz from Chelsea or Daniel Agger from Liverpool. The Spanish champions are keen to increase their options in central defence and have seen offers for both players rejected by their clubs. After failing to secure any of their targets, Martino said last night he was content with his existing defenders, adding: "The problems last year at centre-back were due to injury. We have options, but if there are setbacks we will have the winter transfer window." Barcelona open their Spanish league campaign against Levante today.
Clubs told to fill stadiums
Premier League clubs have been ordered to come up with ways of halting the decline in attendances among away fans. The figure has dropped by 10 per cent in five years, with many supporters complaining that the high cost of tickets added to transport, food and drink has made away travel unaffordable. Now the Premier League have told all clubs they must spend £600,000 each over the next three seasons on initiatives to help travelling fans. "The clubs understand that a full stadium is a very important part of what the Premier League is," said the League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore.
Forest go two points clear
Nottingham Forest claimed their third straight win to take a two-point lead at the top the Championship with a 3-0 beating of Bolton. Goals from Jamie Mackie, Andy Reid and Henri Lansbury secured the points as Billy Davies' side took advantage of the visitors playing much of the second half with 10 men following Darren Pratley's second yellow card. Watford are second after Diego Fabbrini scored an 89th-minute equaliser to seal a second-half comeback to earn a 3-3 draw at Reading. Nigel Adkins' side led three times courtesy of two goals from Jem Karacan and Adam Le Fondre's early strike. But Watford hit back through Marco Davide and Troy Deeney before Fabbrini extended the Hornets' unbeaten start.
Hitchcock's thrilling ending
Tom Hitchcock scored a last-minute winner on his Queens Park Rangers debut to clinch a 1-0 victory over Ipswich at Loftus Road. The substitute tapped into an empty net after Charlie Austin's effort had been parried by Ipswich's goalkeeper Scott Loach. Harry Redknapp's side had already hit the bar twice before the 20-year-old son of QPR's goalkeeping coach, Kevin Hitchcock, struck to send Rangers fifth.
Clarke lifts Sky Blues
Coventry City clawed back another three points at the foot of League One with an emphatic 4-0 win at Carlisle. Steven Pressley's side, who were docked 10 points for going into liquidation, were 3-0 ahead by half-time after goals from Leon Clarke, Franck Moussa and Billy Daniels. Clarke later added his second.
Kris Commons' penalty and a late deflected strike from James Forrest gave Celtic a 2-0 win at Aberdeen, who had their goalkeeper, Jamie Langfield, sent off when conceding the spot-kick on the stroke of half-time.
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