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Sturridge return boosts Reds

first_img The Uruguayan has been told to apologise by Rodgers in the wake of his repeated attempts to force a move from the club amid interest from Arsenal, and has been training away from the first-team squad. “Initially there will be a recognition that (there needs to be) an apology to his team-mates and the club,” said Rodgers when asked on Saturday what Suarez needed to do next. “I have seen him over a period of time and I know it is not the Luis Suarez we know and I have to protect the fans and the players because they deserve more than that.” Even if Suarez stays, Sturridge’s return is timely with the South American banned for the first six games of the season after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during the last campaign. Asked about Sturridge, Rodgers said: “I thought he was excellent. He made a difference when he came on with that power and pace and that link-up play with (Philippe) Coutinho was great. “He is working hard to get fit and after those 45 minutes we have a behind-closed-doors game in midweek and we’ll assess him after that.” The loss to Celtic was Liverpool’s only defeat in seven pre-season friendlies and only the second goal they had conceded. Creating chances against the Scottish champions was not the issue with Coutinho continuing the form he has shown from the back-end of the previous campaign through pre-season. England international Daniel Sturridge made his first appearance of the summer on Saturday when he returned from an ankle injury sustained in May to play 45 minutes in a pre-season friendly against Celtic. The 23-year-old’s return will be a welcome boost for Rodgers given the ongoing furore surrounding Luis Suarez. The young Brazilian is already starting to look like an astute signing by Rodgers, who brought him in from Inter Milan for £8.5million in January. “Coutinho has been fantastic,” he said. “He is a wonderful footballer and a joy to watch. He was disappointed he didn’t score (against Celtic) because he had a couple of opportunities. “Him, (Steven) Gerrard and Sturridge are all on that same wavelength and their interplay and the way they combined was very promising. “The players have worked extremely hard and are in really good shape physically and we are itching to get going.” Rodgers’ options for his impromptu midweek friendly will be restricted by international call-ups, and while he is frustrated he accepts it is part of the modern football calendar. “It is not ideal the players come off the back of a hard pre-season, having travelled all around the world, and then they have to go away and play an international friendly game,” he said. “I believe this is the last year of that (having a fixture scheduled immediately prior to the start of a Premier League campaign). “The players we have at Liverpool are very honoured to play for their country and I am sure the international managers respect there is a big weekend ahead next weekend.” Celtic have already played in five competitive matches after their involvement in Champions League qualifiers and the start of the Scottish Premiership season. Hoops manager Neil Lennon hopes to get more out of 22-year-old striker Amido Balde, who has made just one appearance in those five matches but put in a strong performance against Liverpool and scored the only goal. “He has done very well. He is unfortunate not to have started some more competitive games but we want to ease him into it,” he said of his summer signing from Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes. “There is a hunger about him. He has been an excellent acquisition to the squad. “He is a different type of player to what we’ve had. We’ve not had that physical presence since John Hartson and Chris Sutton and sometimes you need that when pitches get rough in the winter. “He is raw, we know that, and he has a lot of work to do, but he has some great attributes.” Lennon is still hoping to add to his squad before the end of the transfer window. “There is money there and we just have to find the right one and the affordability of the player in terms of transfer fee,” he added. “We are working hard.” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has welcomed one striker back into his squad and shortly hopes to be able to do the same with another. Press Associationlast_img read more

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NBA free agency news: Kawhi Leonard says he hasn’t bought property in Toronto … yet

first_img NBA Finals 2019: Kyle Lowry speechless when kid calls him ‘icon all over Canada’ “No, I didn’t,’’ Leonard said when asked if he had indeed bought property north of the border. “It didn’t happen yet, no.”Kawhi Leonard when asked if he had purchased property in Toronto 🤔pic.twitter.com/pI8YFh2og5— Ball Realm (@TheBallRealm) June 9, 2019That discreet “yet” in Leonard’s response undoubtedly perked up a few ears in Canada. Related News Kevin Durant injury update: Warriors star (calf) listed as questionable for Game 5 This isn’t the first installment of property watch with Leonard. The Los Angles Times reported in January that the three-time All-Star had purchased a Tuscan-style estate in a San Diego County community for $13.3 million using a corporate entity he manages.However, Leonard bought the West Coast mansion before this storybook run through the playoffs and the outpouring of affection from the city of Toronto.”Coming in, I wanted to be able to contribute to the team and be able to get them to this point, and we’re doing it so far. I just feel like I did something special for them, just this group, just being able to be the first team to get to the NBA Finals for Toronto,” Leonard told reporters after winning Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “That’s how fans are. Everyone out here they love, not just me. If you walk through the city or if I’m with one of my teammates, they show them a lot of love as well. It’s a great support group out here with the fans and with everyone in Toronto.” NBA Finals 2019: Warriors’ Andre Iguodala wants to make ‘another run’ at championship next year Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors are one win away from winning the first NBA Finals in franchise history, but even with that milestone on the horizon, the superstar is still fielding questions about his future beyond this month.After practice Sunday, Leonard was asked about circulating reports that he had purchased a property in Toronto — a report that gave Raptors fans hope they would re-sign Leonard in free agency this summer. He shot the rumor down, sort of. Leonard, who will be only 28 years old when free agency opens in July, is one of the crown jewels of a 2019 class that features Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Klay Thompson, among others.During his radio show last week, Toronto sports radio host Michael Landsberg said Leonard had purchased a property in Toronto. His report was corroborated by his guest, David Thorpe of TrueHoop.com.“Everyone that I’ve talked to and is connected to his group agree the Raptors have done what they needed to do (to sign Leonard),” Thorpe said. “That doesn’t mean he can’t change his mind, of course he can, but as it stands today it’s hard to imagine that he would go somewhere else.“Now he’s not going to sign a long-term deal, I wouldn’t think. He doesn’t have to. But it’s fair to guess he’s going to give at least a year or two more to Toronto to continue that relationship and see where it goes.”last_img read more

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LISTEN: Antonio Conte likely to STAY at Chelsea, Roma chief tells talkSPORT

first_imgAntonio Conte is likely to stay at Chelsea beyond this season as he will be keen to lead the club in the Champions League.That’s the verdict of Roma chief executive Umberto Gandini, who joined talkSPORT on Tuesday to reflect on the Italian manager’s dream debut season in the Premier League.Conte is on the brink of seeing his Chelsea side being crowned champions in his first year in English football, after their 3-0 win over Middlesbrough meant they need just three points from their final three games to claim the title.But there are fears the Blues could lose their boss, with reports over the past number of months linking Conte with a shock return to Italy.Newly-minted Inter Milan are supposedly plotting an audacious contract offer to tempt Conte back to his homeland this summer, as their new Chinese owners looks to get the club back challenging for top honours.However, Gandini – who has known Conte since the early days of his playing career at Juventus – believes it is unlikely the manager would want to leave Chelsea now having sealed the Blues’ spot in next season’s Champions League.Speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White, he said: “There are very few coaches who are able to totally change the destiny of a club, and if you go through the speculation in the newspapers, yes, there are a few clubs who are looking at Antonio.“Antonio is going to make a fantastic statement by winning the Premier League in his first year and I tend to think he would like to play with Chelsea in the Champions League, but you never know.”Another Italian who could soon be on his way to the Premier League, if speculation is to be believed, is Massimiliano Allegri.Juventus have gone from strength to strength under the 49-year-old’s stewardship, and he has been hailed as the man destined to take over from Arsene Wenger when he eventually ends his long Arsenal reign.The Turin giants are poised to lift their third consecutive Serie A title under Allegri, having also won the previous three campaigns under now-Chelsea boss Conte.And Gandini says Arsenal will have their work cut out for them to tempt the manager to leave Juventus and take over at the Emirates Stadium.“Massimiliano is a very, very good coach – I worked with him at AC Milan and we won a league together,” he added.“He’s doing exceptionally well at Juventus. He’s definitely in the same class [as Conte].“I think Massimiliano would be successful [in the Premier League] but I think Juventus will be very strong to keep him.”last_img read more