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    Karen Hills says Alex Morgan’s Orlando Pride team-mates helped Tottenham pull off shock transfer

    KAREN HILLS revealed Alex Morgan’s Orlando Pride pals helped tempt the American superstar to sign with Tottenham.  
    The USA World Cup winner, 31, is set to make her debut against Arsenal in the FA Cup tomorrow, having recently signed for the North Londoners on a sensational loan-deal.


    Alex Morgan’s former Orlando Pride team-mates played a role in her move to SpursCredit: Getty Images – Getty


    Pride ace Shelina Zadorsky signed a short-term loan deal with the North Londoners in AugustCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    She has joined the familiar faces of her Pride team-mates Shelina Zadorsky and Alanna Kennedy who also penned short-term deals with the club ahead of this season.
    Spurs boss, Hills, said: “Speaking to Alex, there’s a connection with the club anyway. She’s got friends from Orlando in Shelina and Alanna.
    “Obviously, she’d spoken to them. There were a lot of positives around the club and the vibe, I think she got a really nice feel to that.
    “She was over here with the USA World Cup winning team and they trained here, there was a connection already with Tottenham.

    “We’re an up and coming team. It fitted for her at this moment in time. And coming here shows the ambition of Alex to take herself out her comfort zone,
    “And to come to another country to give herself the opportunity to again state that she’s one of the best forwards in the world.”
    Morgan agreed terms with Spurs in less than 48 hours and has been training with the North Londoners for the past week.
    If the strike sensation features against the Gunners, it would be her first competitive match in over a year, having given birth to her first child four months ago.


    She is in search of regular minutes in a bid to win a place in the US squad for the delayed Tokyo Olympics.
    Hills added: “I think it’s a big statement for Alex, it obviously goes to show her mentality and how she’s been able to transfer from having the baby to getting herself back into amazing shape,
    “To then travel to London, and become part of what we’re doing at the moment. It all seemed to fit at the right moment for her.”
    Arsenal’s aces are relishing the chance of going toe to toe with Morgan as the prepare to host Spurs at Borehamwood.
    Boss Joe Montemurro said: “We get to play against top players so from our perspective it only adds to the growth and the great league that the WSL is.
    “From our perspective there’s no player that has been singled out or anything, we’re going to go about it our way and play our football and see if these players adhere to the level that we bring out to them.”

    Tottenham signing Alex Morgan shows off her skills on the training pitch More

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    Lewis Hamilton insists he WON’T cry if he equals Michael Schumacher’s record 91 F1 wins at the Russian GP

    LEWIS HAMILTON will not break down in tears when he equals legend Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 F1 wins — because he is only interested in titles.
    The Brit can match the tally at this weekend’s Russian GP in Sochi — a race he has won four times out of six.


    Lewis Hamilton needs one win to equal Michael Schumacher’s all-time recordCredit: Reuters

    It would mark an incredible achievement, as most thought the German’s record was untouchable.
    SunSport reminded the six-time world champ how Schumacher sobbed when he equalled Ayrton Senna’s then-record of 41 wins at the 2000 Italian GP.
    But Hamilton said: “I saw that video of Schumacher’s reaction recently.
    “I don’t remember seeing what happened afterwards.

    “I’m sure he did talk about why he did that or what he was feeling.
    “For all of us drivers, there’s a lot of emotion involved in what we do. I don’t know why I am the way I am and why numbers are not necessarily something I focus on.
    “I come into this weekend as it being no different to any other weekend. I’ve got to work my backside off to beat my team-mate Valtteri Bottas and everyone else out there.
    “I know how hard that is, as do the other drivers. I just don’t think of anything else really.


    Michael Schumacher cried when he equalled Ayrton Senna’s then-record of 41 winsCredit: Getty – Contributor


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    “If it happens, it’s going to happen at some stage, as I’m not quitting any time soon. I can’t tell you how I am going to feel, or what it’s going to mean.”
    Hamilton has a whopping 55-point lead in the championship over Bottas and looks set for a seventh world title.
    That would equal another Schumacher record, and while the number of wins he has does not seem to bother him, Hamilton certainly IS interested in collecting championships.
    He added: “Championship numbers are different. When you win a championship, it’s something that is so far in the distance, it’s almost impossible or seems out of reach.”
    Hamilton, 35, raced Schumacher for only three seasons between 2010 and 2012 after he came out of retirement for Mercedes.
    Ironically, Schumacher was replaced at Merc by Hamilton but the two never really had much of a friendship.
    Hamilton said: “I met him once at the track he has at Kerpen — and that was amazing as a kid.
    “Probably my fondest memory was in Abu Dhabi when we exchanged helmets and that was really big for me. That’s the most valuable helmet I have.

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    Lewis Hamilton can match the tally at this weekend’s Russian GP in SochiCredit: Reuters
    “Otherwise, we never really had any deep conversations or anything like that. It was just pure admiration.”
    While Hamilton never had much of a connection to Schumacher, one driver who did is Sebastian Vettel.
    The Ferrari man idolised Schumacher when he was growing up and says he will be ‘sad’ to see Hamilton equal his hero’s record.
    He said: “91 wins has always been a number that appeared to be impossible to reach. But Lewis’ track record over the years has allowed him to get closer. It is only a matter of time before he reaches it.
    “On one hand I will be sad because Michael is still my hero, but on the other hand, I will always be happy for Lewis.
    “He deserves all the success he has had in the last years, this year — and the next years, too. It is half and half, I have mixed emotions.”
    Bottas set the early pace in Russia after topping both practice sessions in Sochi.
    The Finn is trying to stop Hamilton from adding to his six wins this season.

    Hamilton, second quickest in the afternoon session, was comfortably ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who was best of the rest in his Renault.
    McLaren duo Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris were also impressive in P4 and P5.
    Meanwhile, F1 have confirmed that Stefano Domenicali will replace Chase Carey as F1’s new CEO from January.

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    Emile Heskey revels in new role ahead of Leicester’s clash with Man City

    EMILE HESKEY says he is loving the “family” vibe of being back at Leicester.
    And the Foxes icon paid tribute to the club this week after sharing his delight at becoming their first women’s football ambassador.


    Emile Heskey, who is Leicester City’s women’s football ambassador, says he has always ‘gravitated’ back to the clubCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    The former Liverpool star said: “I represented a lot of clubs but I always gravitated back to Leicester.
    “I was born and raised here, I played here and when I left to play for other clubs, they never really had the same feeling in terms of a family environment.
    “We did everything together and you saw that with the men’s team — and you are seeing that with the women, too.

    “About 15 years ago, my friend was a coach and asked me to talk to the women’s team. I gave a speech and fast forward to now and I’m back.”
    Heskey, 42, enjoyed a stellar 18-year career in the Premier League making 516 appearances including 124 at Leicester.

    “Women’s football has always been there, but it hasn’t really been pushed
    Emile Heskey

    The former Anfield frontman, who played in this year’s Soccer Aid alongside ex-Arsenal ace Kelly Smith, says he has been a long-term admirer of the women’s game.
    And while the Leicester-born forward praised Ian Wright for encouraging more fans to follow the sport, he believes Smith and figures like Brighton boss Hope Powell, should get more recognition.


    Emile Heskey will be mentoring members of Leicester City’s women’s team as part of his new role at the clubCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Heskey added: “Women’s football has always been there, but it hasn’t really been pushed.
    ‘’I remember Doncaster Belles and I played in Soccer Aid with Kelly Smith and you realise how good they actually are.
    “It’s great to have Ian Wright and myself helping, but there are a lot of people who have done far more than we have.


    Heskey believes players like ex-England playmaker Kelly Smith deserve greater recognition for their contribution to women’s footballCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    “Hope Powell is one of the reasons I started watching the national team.”
    In his new role, the 62-cap Three Lions striker, 43, will offer coaching advice to the Foxes’ women’s squad as well as mentoring their players.
    Leicester, second in the Championship, face WSL juggernauts Manchester City in the Women’s FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.

    Jamie Vardy signs new Leicester deal until 2023 keeping him at Foxes until he is 36 More

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    Brighton star Tariq Lamptey still undecided on international future as England and Ghana battle for teenage superstar

    TARIQ LAMPTEY has yet to make his mind up over his international future.
    The Brighton star, 19, was born in London but is eligible for Ghana through his parents.


    Tariq Lampteyis undecided on his international futureCredit: Rex Features

    He made his England Under-21 debut against Austria earlier this month — but the Ghanaian FA publicly stated their aim to convince him to switch allegiances.
    Asked whether he has decided which country to represent, the right-back said: “No.
    “I’m still young so I’m just looking forward to the next game which is Manchester United and keep playing as well as possible. Whatever comes next, we’ll see.”
    If Lamptey does pick England, he faces incredible competition for the right full-back position, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Reece James among those vying for the spot in Gareth Southgate’s side.

    Yet when asked whether it would put him off opting for the Three Lions, the ex-Chelsea starlet replied: “No.
    “At the moment I’m just focused on Brighton and playing as many games as possible, keep training as hard as possible, keep playing well and keep a consistent level.
    “At the end of the day, the harder I work and the more games I get in are the most important things for my development.
    “What happens in the future on the international side, we’ll have to wait and see.”


    Tariq Lamptey has not decided whether to commit to Gareth Southgate’s England sideCredit: Reuters

    Lamptey made nine appearances in the Premier League during the 2019-20 campaign.
    And he topped the Premier League speed charts during the win over Newcastle this month.
    The rapid right-back clocked an impressive 22.8mph to beat every other player from that weekend’s action.

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    Chelsea legend Petr Cech shows new transfer signing Edouard Mendy how it’s done in Blues training session

    CHELSEA’S website was pushing Edouard Mendy replica shirts yesterday — but who gets the real No 1 jersey is the burning issue at Stamford Bridge.
    The £24million new signing will not be involved at West Brom — but the club wasted no time in marketing the latest face to join Frank Lampard’s expanding squad.


    Petr Cech worked alongside new boy Edouard Mendy at the training groundCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Under-pressure Kepa Arrizabalaga will keep his place in goal at The Hawthorns but, after that, it is every man for himself.
    According to boss Lampard, who gets the nod will come down to how they train next week.
    With seven new signings in 2020 and no outgoings, the hardest job at Stamford Bridge is going to be trying to shut the dressing room door with so many players inside.
    And no position is more overstocked, and more confusing, than the last line of defence.

    Lampard has four keepers now — Kepa, Mendy, Willy Caballero and the promising academy graduate Nathan Baxter.
    This week, a fifth joined in when arguably Chelsea’s greatest-ever goalie, Petr Cech, dug out his gloves and scrum cap to try to solve the riddle between the sticks.
    It is not difficult to point out Chelsea have struggled in the No 1 position. The tough part for boss Lampard is finding the solution.
    Kepa, 25, is the world’s most expensive goalie at £71.6m, yet his confidence does not reflect that high price tag.


    Cech is regarded as the greatest keeper in the club’s history after winning 13 major trophies and playing just shy of 500 gamesCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Veteran Caballero, 38, is enjoying the embers of a proud career and in the final year of his contract.
    New-boy Mendy, 28, is either the bargain of the century from Rennes — or a relatively cheap import designed to put pressure on Kepa.
    Homegrown Baxter, 21, was on the bench for Wednesday’s 6-0 Carabao Cup rout of Barnsley and is considered by many to be a star of the future — but still not yet ready to be unleashed fully.
    Lampard admitted: “We’ve had problems in the goalkeeping area in the first two games of the season and at times last year.
    “We can be very honest and open about that — and Kepa himself — in that search for the best performance levels.
    “Mendy comes in to provide competition in that area.
    “I don’t want to talk about No 1s, twos and threes at the minute because we’re not in that position.
    “He’s just come into the club and now it’s about how we move forward and trying to get that performance level as best as it can be.


    Frank Lampard signed the 6ft 5in goalkeeper from RennesCredit: Getty Images – Getty


    “It’ll be very important for the make-up of the goalkeepers at the club that the level is competitive and supportive.
    “In the three personalities I’ve got, and I met Mendy briefly on Thursday, we have players that want to do their best for Chelsea Football Club and then we will follow that hopefully with the performances we demand at Chelsea.
    “I will have conversations with all the goalkeepers and be very open about it and we’ll see the way to move forward.
    “Having Petr train with the goalkeepers and bring his experience is a great thing.
    “He still has great quality. I think he retired pretty young.
    “He’s training and keeping fit, which I think is healthy for him and the goalkeepers in the squad.
    “I think it’s as far as it goes. It’s something that’s really positive for the goalkeepers and Petr enjoys doing it.
    “Why not get back and give that experience to the goalkeepers?”


    Edouard Mendy, 28, is set to challenge Kepa for Chelsea’s No1 spotCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Cech — who rejoined the Blues last summer in a newly-formed role as technical and performance advisor — revealed last month that he wants to work on Kepa and iron out his inconsistencies.
    But at clubs like Chelsea there is very limited time to do that because of the insatiable hunger for success.
    Kepa will be playing under more scrutiny than ever today, knowing that this might be his last chance to impress the boss.
    Mendy is resting this weekend before being wheeled out as the competition. How that will ease Kepa’s nerves is anyone’s guess.
    Lampard said: “All I ask from them is that they carry on with the right attitude.
    “It doesn’t mean being happy not to play — but it does mean understanding being part of a group that’s trying to do something special.
    “It needs a good mentality throughout the squad throughout the whole year.”


    World record Kepa has failed to impress between the sticks for ChelseaCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Chelsea confirm Edouard Mendy transfer from Rennes for £22m More

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    Man City’s Prem challenge hit with early injury crisis as Gabriel Jesus knock leaves Guardiola with just 13 fit players

    MANCHESTER CITY are having a mare in their bid to reclaim the Premier League title as Pep Guardiola has a striker crisis and just THIRTEEN fit senior players.
    City’s injury woes deepened yesterday when the Brazilian FA confirmed Gabriel Jesus is out for at least three weeks with a calf injury.


    Gabriel Jesus is the latest Man City star to fall to injuryCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Guardiola, whose side face Leicester on Sunday, is already without main forward Sergio Aguero for several weeks with a knee problem which leaves 17-year-old Liam Delap as their only recognised striker.
    The injury nightmare did not seem to dampen the spirits of Kyle Walker – who is available – and was all smiles as he dressed up as a horse in training yesterday.
    Jesus, 23, was withdrawn from Brazil’s games against Bolivia and Peru next month after he pulled up injured in City’s 3-1 win at Wolves last Monday.
    Guardiola said: “The situation is we have right now, we have 13 players – but we have to try to win the game.

    “Even so I see the team well, I see happiness, good relations – we have an exceptononal group.
    “And this is why we have the academy – when we need players we can use them. It depends on the quality of the players but they’ll get chances.”
    Guardiola, who has a squad of 22 established first-teamers in his squad, was already without seven players for the victory at Molineux.
    Eric Garcia is fit again but Nico Otamendi is now out injured as City’s hunt for a new centre-back goes on.


    Pep Guardiola’s side will face Leicester City on Sunday with just 13 senior playersCredit: AFP or licensors

    Benfica’s £60 million ace Ruben Dias is the latest name in the frame – with his club admitting yesterday the 23-year-old could leave for the right offer.
    The Etihad club will hope he is not a donkey but City have also made enquiries for Seville’s Jules Kounde, Jose Giminez of Atletico Madrid and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly in recent weeks.
    As well as Jesus, Aguero and Otamendi being out, Oleks Zinchenko, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo are also injured while Aymeric Laporte and Ilkay Gundogan tested positive for Covid and are still not ready to return.
    At least key man Kevin de Bruyne should be available – despite taking a blow to the head in the Carabao Cup win over Bournemouth.
    Guardiola said: “There was a little distortion for Kevin but generally he feels good.”
    Meanwhile City were expected to firm up their interest in Kounde now the UEFA Super Cup is over for Seville.
    But sources close to Dias confirmed they have held talks with the English club over a possible switch – but they insisted last night nothing was finalised.

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    Hull saying no to West Ham’s coronavirus test offer after Moyes’ positive result was stubborn and blindly dismissive

    WITH the comment “we felt fine”, Hull boss Grant McCann explained why he refused our offer to pay for Covid-19 tests for him, his staff and players.
    The refusal, before Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup tie at the London  Stadium, seemed a little strange at the time.


    Karren Brady was disappointed Hull boss Grant McCann turned down the offer of free coronavirus tests before the Carabao Cup tie with West HamCredit: Rex Features


    West Ham’s French defender Issa Diop tested positive for Covid-19, as did manager David Moyes and Josh CullenCredit: Getty Images – Getty


    Josh Cullen tested positive an hour ahead of the Carabao Cup kick-offCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    In the wake of what happened later, it now appears to be blindly  dismissive.
    Seventy minutes before kick-off our unsuspecting manager David Moyes and two players — despite “feeling fine” — were discovered to have contracted the virus without showing any symptoms.
    McCann said immediately after the match that none of his staff or players had the virus — that might have been true of the last time they were tested, which was prior to the start of the EFL season.
    But how was he to know that — like Moyes, Issa Diop and Josh Cullen — one or two had not unwittingly caught it since their previous tests?

    The root cause of the farce is that the EFL had withdrawn the order that all their clubs had to test  players before each match or even just regularly.
    So I can only guess that  this  decision was made because of the cost of testing which, to take Hull as an example, would have been £5,500.
    Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea all paid for EFL Cup opponents to be tested. A hive of the disease was uncovered at Leyton Orient.

    Grant McCann’s attitude was unnecessarily stubborn and does zilch for football and plans to bring back crowds

    So much for McCann’s assertions.

    At the time, he commented: “Just because somebody offers you free tests, it doesn’t mean you do it.
    “We are comfortable with what we are doing. We are monitoring the players at every level.”
    His attitude was unnecessarily stubborn and does zilch for football and plans to bring back crowds —  plans  that were blocked on the same day as Boris Johnson’s suggestion that it may take six months before stadiums can be filled again.
    I understand the EFL have told their clubs that offers like ours should be accepted. I should think so. And with thanks.
    Especially when you have to fulfil your Premier League fixtures come what may and as long as you have 14 players, even if you have no  manager!
    IN another attempt to climb a greasy pole, our rule-makers decided to  codify exactly — and to the minutest fraction — what a handball is.
    So, no room for argument, when the ball met hand or arm, it was handball. No appeals, no changes of mind.

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    That’s it then? Well, not necessarily.
    At least not when the ball struck Gabriel Magalhaes’ arm in West Ham’s match at Arsenal.
    Of course it was an accident and it seems referee Michael Oliver took this view — or perhaps saw something viewers didn’t.
    The problem is the handball law has changed this summer and all decisions are now based on the “T-shirt rule”.
    If the ball strikes  the area of the arm that would be covered by a T-shirt sleeve, that and the shoulder area are now not considered handball.
    But when it does strike this imaginary T-shirt line, the ref and VAR have to determine whether more of the ball was touching above or below it.
    So, while the rules are clear, still the  interpretation is subjective.
    Normally, many   people would applaud Oliver’s decision as common sense overcoming rigid dogma.

    Fair enough, but interpretation of the new IFAB ruling isn’t permissible.  There was a similar incident where Martin Atkinson took the opposite view  and gave a penalty to Crystal Palace after a VAR consultation on whether Victor Lindelof’s hand was in ‘an unnatural position’.
    It is sometimes impossible to know whether a handball is accidental or  craftily illegal.  Neither the ref nor VAR can read minds — and therefore many important decisions are a collaboration.
    At least we know where we are. Unless, like some refs, you trust your own senses and ignore the rules — which   just leaves everyone scratching their heads, asking where is the consistency in VAR?

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    Man Utd legend Andy Cole says Red Devils have no chance of winning Prem – even if they complete Jadon Sancho transfer

    ANDY COLE has warned Manchester United: You are nowhere near ready to fight for the title.
    The Red Devils were beaten 3-1 by Crystal Palace in their opener.


    Jadon Sancho would improve Man Utd but maybe not enough to challenge Liverpool and Man City at the top, says Andy ColeCredit: Getty Images – Getty


    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be boosted by Eric Bailly returning to fitness to partner Harry Maguire in defenceCredit: AFP

    And boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to axe defender Victor Lindelof for today’s trip to Brighton following that horror show.
    United legend Cole reckons not even landing top target Jadon Sancho would make his old club a title-winning team.
    The former striker, 48, said: “I want to sit here and say Man United will win the league this season — but then I look in the mirror and say, ‘Why am I lying?’
    “There’s no point me trying to dress it up. We have to be honest and United are two to three years away.

    I am not saying this is Manchester United’s little dicky patch at the moment because they can’t afford it to be.
    Andy Cole

    “If you buy Jadon Sancho for £109million, does that mean Manchester United are going to win the league?
    “It might take them a bit closer, but we are saying now that one player could possibly take you a little bit closer to winning the league when you see Liverpool have added two very good players, Manchester City have added two very good players.
    “Look at Liverpool, it has taken them 30 years to win the league and they have gone through loads of different players to get there.
    “And you look at  City, how many years did it take them to win the league, how many players have they gone through?

    “I am a realist. I know if they brought in Sancho he would improve Manchester United. Would he improve Manchester United to the point where they would blow away the other two teams? I am not quite sure about that.”


    Old Trafford strike legend Andy Cole believes Man Utd showed last season how well they can defend as a whole team Credit: Rex Features
    Lindelof is likely to be the big-name casualty after a poor performance in the defeat by Palace.
    Fit-again Eric Bailly played alongside Harry Maguire in the 3-0 EFL Cup win at Luton and Solskjaer wants them to form a regular partnership.
    The United boss said: “I think last season proved to us how we can defend at our best.
    “Yes, last week wasn’t fantastic. We conceded sloppy goals but I think our defensive record from last season showed with Eric and Harry how good a partnership they were. But also the whole team defending as a team.

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    “Eric is fit again now, which is a big bonus and a big plus for us and I’m looking forward to seeing him develop and playing more games this season because we’ve been waiting for him to first be fit and then playing more regularly.”
    Cole has made it clear the team need to get points on the board early to take the pressure off when things get tough later in the season.
    He added: “At my time at Manchester United, the manager always wanted us to have a good start, because you knew at some point you would go through a dicky patch.
    “If you have got your points on the board early doors, when you go through that little dicky patch you can look back and say: good job we got our points early doors.

    “I am not saying this is Manchester United’s little dicky patch at the moment because they can’t afford it to be. They’ve got to get a positive result against Brighton and then look to continue to build from there.”
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