Hold The Back Page: 22/01/2011
Saturday 22 January 2011
It's a big weekend for...
Darren Bent's rescue mission
Today will be the biggest match of Darren Bent's career as he makes his Aston Villa debut against Manchester City.
For all the goals he has scored at clubs across England, being entrusted with delivering a big club from relegation is a heavy burden. Pedro Mendes pulled off the feat for Portsmouth, to say nothing of Scott Parker, who has been doing it at Upton Park for years. But the heaviest tasks provide the purest test and it will only be in these final 16 Premier League games that we will get the true measure of the man. A few of those darts to the near post and nods across the goalkeeper, some valuable wins and Bent will appear to be England's most natural finisher since Robbie Fowler. But if he stumbles under the burden he will look like a slightly more reliable Kevin Phillips.
We applaud you wholeheartedly
With Portsmouth unable to field more than four substitutes in their last two league games, Steve Cotterill has introduced a novel fundraising element into otherwise routine leak-plugging: fining players £1,000 for every indiscreet word they write on Twitter. Greg Halford had revealed team news this month ("he isn't the brightest", explained Cotterill), and now his manager wants to see the end of it. "Don't be putting anything on there about you, training and Portsmouth FC," he barked. Unfortunately Twitter's 140-character limit might prevent Pompey from bringing in quite as much money as they need.
Plus the stories you may have missed
Octopus memorial unveiled
Xavi and Andres Iniesta may have gone unrewarded at the Ballon d'Or ceremony, but a true star of the World Cup was immortalised this week, as a two metre-tall plastic replica of Paul the Octopus was unveiled at the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen.
Narail riots for Mortaza
The exclusion of Mashrafe Mortaza from Bangladesh's World Cup squad led to a half-day general strike in his home town, Narail, which including the burning of effigies and acts of vandalism. Similar scenes in Steven Davies' Bromsgrove are as yet unreported.
Simon Calder looks at communities fighting back against the poachers
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