Sources: MLBPA to seek more games, no pay cut

    ESPN MLB insider
    Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”

The Major League Baseball Players Association expects to counter MLB’s economic proposal by the end of this week with a plan that includes more than 100 games and a guarantee of full prorated salaries for the 2020 season, sources familiar with union discussions told ESPN.

The disagreement over economics has ratcheted up in recent days after the league’s first proposal Tuesday rankled players. On multiple phone calls Wednesday, players essentially pledged to ignore the league’s proposal and offer instead one of its own, according to sources familiar with the calls.

Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer, one of eight players on the MLBPA’s powerful executive subcommittee, tweeted Wednesday night that the significant pay cuts in the league’s proposal would not be accepted and the union would remain committed to players receiving their full prorated salaries.

“After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no need to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions,” Scherzer wrote.

MLB’s proposal called for pay reductions on top of players’ prorated salaries, which would be scaled to reflect the number of games played. In MLB’s 82-game proposal, Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout would be paid less than $6 million instead of the $19 million-plus he would receive prorated. While the pay cuts would be less severe for a large swath of lower-paid players, the union’s rancor was clear and immediate.

The union’s desire to play more games could ultimately be used as a chip for a negotiation to reach a return-to-play deal. For now, however, if players are being paid on a prorated basis, more games would lead to a greater salary for the players. The league has balked at a longer schedule, fearful that a potential second wave of the coronavirus could wipe out the postseason — and the lucrative national television money that goes along with it.

In a presentation to players, MLB said it would lose significant amounts of money if games are played in 2020 and players receive their full pro rata. The union has held firm that a March 27 agreement between the parties ensures them their prorated share, while the league believes language in the agreement calls for a good-faith negotiation in the event that games are played in empty stadiums.

The union remains skeptical of the data the league shared that showed significant losses across the sport, and recently submitted additional document requests to the league in search of information about local television revenue, national television revenue, sponsorship revenue and projections from teams.

“We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received,” Scherzer wrote in his statement. “I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.”

MLB has proposed playing in front of no fans in games starting the first week in July, though that timeline could be pushed back if labor discussions stretch on and preclude spring training 2.0 starting in mid-June.

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Illinois Fighting Illini coach Lovie Smith shaves off his trademark beard

The Illinois Fighting Illini football team had a banner season in 2019, upsetting then-No. 6 Wisconsin as 31-point underdogs in October en route to a six-win season and the program's first bowl appearance since 2014.

On Wednesday, the program took an "L."

Head coach Lovie Smith — whose sideline persona included a signature bushy white beard for the previous two years — shaved that glorious beard and is now clean shaven.

The Illini football team's official Twitter account revealed the updated look for Smith, who went beard-less during his time as an NFL head coach for the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2004-15.

pic.twitter.com/SQkKzytDjx

If you need a refresher, here's what the bearded Smith looked like …

Lovie Smith looks on during Illinois' 38-10 win over Rutgers on Nov. 2, 2019 at Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Patrick Gorski, USA TODAY Sports)

The Fighting Illini are scheduled to kick off their 2020 season on Sept. 4 against Illinois State in Champaign, Illinois. Their Big Ten opener is against Rutgers on Oct. 3 in Piscataway, N.J.

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‘Cliches with fear’: NRL boss pans critics

Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys has brushed off criticism of his proposal to reintroduce crowds at NRL games within five weeks on the same day the season restarts.

Last week, V’landys revealed the NRL was hoping to permit capped crowds into games from early July. However, Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone labelled the proposal an “absurd and dangerous idea” on Tuesday.

V’landys copped similar backlash when he boldly claimed the NRL was aiming to return on May 28th, a move which proved a masterstroke.

Speaking on Channel 9’s Today, V’landys remained adamant having capped crowds within two months was a possibility, but largely depends on the country’s infection rate.

“These medical experts didn’t even look at what our proposal was. They’re cliches with fear,” V'landys said on Thursday morning.

“We have to do a risk analysis and we back up all our case with the data.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys.Source:The Daily Telegraph

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“We’re going to wait the next two weeks to see what he infection rate does with the relaxation of the distancing measures. We want to see what happens; is there going to be another spike, or if this very low infection rate continues.

“At the moment, it's less than half a per cent and it’s been like that for nearly 40 days. When we stopped playing rugby league, it was 25.5 per cent.

“We’re not Italy, we’re not Spain, we’re not Britain. We’re Australia. We should do a risk analysis and if the risk is low to minimal, there’s no reason why we shouldn't have crowds. We’ve got to get back to some form of normality.

“The risk is absolutely minimal and if the risk is minimal, I can’t see any reason why we can't do it. We’ll be pushing our case with governments in the next two to three weeks once we have this data.”

V’landys explained a stadium with 60,000 seats may only be capable of holding 10,000 fans with proper social distancing enforced. Thermal cameras would also be used to take the spectators’ temperatures.

Incredible to think rugby league is starting tonight. Peter V’landys an absolute freak – I don’t reckon anyone else could have achieved it. Remarkable. Rugby league + the wider sporting community now knows what horseracing has known for ages. 🌟 🐎 🏉

Peter V’landys deserves credit for bulldozing his way over one obstacle after another to get the #NRL back today but you know who deserves the most credit? You.

We wouldn’t be here if the public hadn’t taken the advice of health officials seriously and flattened the curve.

The NRL returns to action tonight as the Broncos face Parramatta in Brisbane.

Footy fans will be thrilled to finally see the season restart after matches were suspended after round two because of COVID-19.

ROUND 3 FIXTURES

Brisbane Broncos vs Parramatta Eels

Thursday, May 28 at 7:50pm

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Channel 9 (Sydney/Brisbane), GEM (Melbourne/Adelaide/Perth) and Fox League

North Queensland Cowboys vs Gold Coast Titans

Friday, May 29 at 6pm

Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville

Fox League

Sydney Roosters vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

Friday, May 29 at 7:55pm

Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta

Channel 9 (Sydney/Brisbane), GEM (Melbourne/Adelaide/Perth) and Fox League

New Zealand Warriors vs St George Illawarra Dragons

Saturday, May 30 at 3pm

Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Fox League

Cronulla Sharks vs Wests Tigers

Saturday, May 30 at 5:30pm

Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta

Fox League

Melbourne Storm vs Canberra Raiders

Saturday, May 30 at 7.35pm

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Fox League

Penrith Panthers vs Newcastle Knights

Sunday, May 31 at 4:05pm

Campbelltown Stadium

Channel 9 (Sydney/Brisbane), GEM (Melbourne/Adelaide/Perth) and Fox League

Manly Sea Eagles vs Canterbury Bulldogs

Sunday, May 31 at 6:30pm

Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Fox League

The NRL premiership returns on Thursday evening with the Brisbane Broncos taking on the Parramatta Eels.Source:News Regional Media

ROUND 3 TEAMS

Parramatta Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Marata Niukore 14. Brad Takairangi 15. Ray Stone 16. Kane Evans 17. Peni Terepo 18. Oregon Kaufusi 19. George Jennings 20. Jaeman Salmon 21. David Gower

Brisbane Broncos: 1. Jamayne Isaako 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Darius Boyd 5. Jesse Arthars 6. Anthony Milford 7. Brodie Croft 8. Thomas Flegler 9. Jake Turpin 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. Jamil Hopoate 13. Patrick Carrigan 14. Herbie Farnworth 15. Joe Ofahengaue 16. Rhys Kennedy 17. Ethan Bullemor 18. Tesi Niu 19. Xavier Coates 20. Tom Dearden 21. Matthew Lodge

North Queensland Cowboys: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Esan Marsters 5. Ben Hampton 6. Scott Drinkwater 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh Mcguire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Mitchell Dunn 12. Coen Hess 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Reece Robson 15. John Asiata 16. Shane Wright 17. Francis Molo 18. Corey Jensen 19. Tom Gilbert 20. Tom Opacic 21. Reuben Cotter

Gold Coast Titans: 1. Tyrone Roberts 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Tyrone Peachey 5. Phillip Sami 6. Ashley Taylor 7. Jamal Fogarty 8. Moeaki Fotuaika 9. Nathan Peats 10. Sam Lisone 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Keegan Hipgrave 13. Jai Arrow 14. Erin Clark 15. Jai Whitbread 16. Jarrod Wallace 17. Shannon Boyd 18. Bryce Cartwright 19. Mitch Rein 20. Brian Kelly 21. Jonus Pearson

Sydney Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Isaac Liu 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Victor Radley 14. Sam Verrills 15. Sitili Tupouniua 16. Nat Butcher 17. Lindsay Collins 18. Siosiua Taukeiaho 19. Ryan Hall 20. Lachlan Lam 21. Poasa Faamausili

South Sydney Rabbitohs: 1. Latrell Mitchell 2. Dane Gagai 3. Campbell Graham 4. Braidon Burns 5. Alex Johnston 6. Troy Dargan 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Tevita Tatola 9. Damien Cook 10. Thomas Burgess 11. Jaydn Su’A 12. Cameron Murray 13. Liam Knight 14. Mark Nicholls 15. Ethan Lowe 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Patrick Mago 18. Bryson Goodwin 19. Tom Amone 20. James Roberts 21. Keaon Koloamatangi

New Zealand Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. Patrick Herbert 3. Peta Hiku 4. Gerard Beale 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green 8. Lachlan Burr 9. Wayde Egan 10. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 11. Isaiah Papali’i 12. Tohu Harris 13. Adam Blair 14. Karl Lawton 15. King Vuniyayawa 16. Agnatius Paasi 17. Eliesa Katoa 18. Chanel Harris-Tavita 20. Josh Curran 21. Adam Pompey 22. Jack Murchie

St. George Illawarra Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jordan Pereira 3. Brayden Wiliame 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Corey Norman 7. Ben Hunt 8. Korbin Sims 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Tariq Sims 13. James Graham 14. Josh Kerr 15. Blake Lawrie 16. Tyrell Fuimaono 17. Euan Aitken 18. Trent Merrin 19. Adam Clune 20. Jacob Host 21. Jackson Ford

Cronulla Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Jack Williams 14. Connor Tracey 15. Braden Hamlin-Uele 16. Toby Rudolf 17. Scott Sorensen 18. Billy Magoulias 19. Matt Moylan 20. Royce Hunt 21. Siosifa Talakai

Wests Tigers: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joseph Leilua 4. Moses Mbye 5. Robert Jennings 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Harry Grant 10. Thomas Mikaele 11. Luke Garner 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Alex Twal 14. Oliver Clark 15. Billy Walters 16. Chris Lawrence 17. Alex Seyfarth 18. Josh Reynolds 19. Matt Eisenhuth 20. Zane Musgrove 21. Michael Chee-Kam

Melbourne Storm: 1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Justin Olam 4. Marion Seve 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Brandon Smith 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Christian Welch 17. Max King 18. Tom Eisenhuth 19. Brenko Lee 20. Ryley Jacks 21. Darryn Schonig

Canberra Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Bailey Simonsson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Horsburgh 14. Siliva Havili 15. Emre Guler 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Michael Oldfield 18. Jordan Rapana 19. Matt Frawley 20. Kai O’Donnell 21. Tom Starling

Penrith Panthers: 1. Caleb Aekins 2. Josh Mansour 3. Dean Whare 4. Brent Naden 5. Brian To’o 6. Matt Burton 7. Jarome Luai 8. James Tamou 9. Apisai Koroisau 10. James Fisher-Harris 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Stephen Crichton 15. Zane Tetevano 16. Moses Leota 17. Liam Martin 18. Mitch Kenny 19. Billy Burns 20. Kaide Ellis 21. Charlie Staines

Newcastle Knights: 1. Tex Hoy 2. Edrick Lee 3. Enari Tuala 4. Gehamat Shibasaki 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Kurt Mann 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Connor Watson 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Sione Mata’utia 13. Herman Ese’ese 14. Chris Randall 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Tim Glasby 17. Aidan Guerra 18. Bradman Best 19. Brodie Jones 20. Mason Lino 21. Pasami Saulo

Manly Sea Eagles: 1. Tom Trbojevic 2. Jorge Taufua 3. Brad Parker 4. Moses Suli 5. Reuben Garrick 6. Dylan Walker 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Danny Levi 10. Martin Taupau 11. Joel Thompson 12. Curtis Sironen 13. Jake Trbojevic 14. Lachlan Croker 15. Corey Waddell 16. Sean Keppie 17. Taniela Paseka 18. Morgan Boyle 19. Jack Gosiewski 20. Tevita Funa 21. Brendan Elliot

Canterbury Bulldogs: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 2. Nick Meaney 3. Reimis Smith 4. Will Hopoate 5. Christian Crichton 6. Lachlan Lewis 7. Jack Cogger 8. Sauaso Sue 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Dean Britt 13. Adam Elliott 14. Jake Averillo 15. Renouf To’omaga 16. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 17. Ofahiki Ogden 19. Kerrod Holland 20. Aiden Tolman 21. Sione Katoa 22. Brandon Wakeham

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Liverpool 'will not pursue Timo Werner and have withdrawn from talks'

Liverpool ‘will NOT pursue Timo Werner and have withdrawn from talks for Red Bull Leipzig’s star striker… with club not willing to go above £30m given current financial uncertainty’

  • Timo Werner has a release clause at Red Bull Leipzig in the £50m region 
  • But Liverpool now value Werner at nearer to £30m due to the current climate 
  • As a result, the Reds will reportedly not pursue the 24-year-old this summer
  • Werner has previously spoken of his admiration for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Liverpool have reportedly withdrawn from talks for Red Bull Leipzig striker Timo Werner, due to a difference in valuation of the player. 

The 24-year-old, who has been one of Europe’s leading marksman this season, has a release clause in the £50m region.

However, due to the current financial instability caused by the coronavirus crisis, the Reds now value him at less than £30m in the market and due to the difference in price-range, Jurgen Klopp’s side won’t be pursuing Werner, according to The Mirror. 

Liverpool have reportedly withdrawn from talks for Red Bull Leipzig striker Timo Werner

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has held an interest in Werner but will not pursue the German

Statistics in all competitions according to Transfermarkt 

The report details that despite Klopp showing interest in working with the Germany international, and vice-versa, the transfer market has been flipped due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on football.

Liverpool do, according to the report, have a good relationship with RB Leipzig, but the difference of £20m plus in their valuations of Werner means a deal will not be reached in the coming months. 

On Wednesday night, Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff said as much: ‘It [Leipzig’s valuation of Werner] won’t get any cheaper. We will not sell a player below value if he is under contract for more than a year. 

RB Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff insists the club won’t sell Werner for anything less than £50m

‘In general, we always ask the question: can we replace a player if we sell him for less than his market value?’

The Reds have held a longstanding interest in the striker, who has scored 30 goals in all competitions this season. 

Werner, who recently labelled Klopp ‘the best coach in the world’, can now see out the remaining two years of his contract at the Red Bull Arena, or look for a move elsewhere – though Anfield was said to be his preferred destination. 

Werner is an out and out goalscorer and has netted 30 times for RB Leipzig this season

Inter Milan and Barcelona are also keeping an eye on Werner’s situation, though they too know business will be different this summer due to the pause of football and the affect this has had financially on clubs across Europe.  

Despite this news, Liverpool remain stocked with attacking talent, with Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri backups to lethal forward trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. 

Werner, meanwhile, failed to find the back of the net in Leipzig’s 2-2 draw against Hertha Berlin on Wednesday, after scoring a hat-trick at the weekend against Mainz. 

Liverpool’s Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have been lethal in the past few years




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Troy Deeney receiving abuse for concerns over football''s return

‘I saw people saying “I hope your son gets corona”’: Troy Deeney reveals abuse he has been receiving for expressing his concerns over football returning too soon

  • Troy Deeney has expressed his concerns about football returning too soon
  • The striker opted out of non-contact training due to COVID-19 health risks
  • Deeney has a five-month-old son, who has had breathing difficulties 
  • Watford are hopeful that their captain will return to training to finish the season
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Watford skipper Troy Deeney has had to deal with people wishing his baby son gets coronavirus after being targeted for expressing his concerns over football’s return.

Deeney has been absent from training since Watford and other Premier League clubs returned to non-contact sessions last week.

The forward’s concerns over potentially passing on Covid-19 to his five-month-old son, who has had breathing difficulties, came even before team-mate Adrian Mariappa and two other Hornets staff tested positive.

Troy Deeney has been vocal about his concerns over football returning too soon

But the 31-year-old found himself and his family in the firing line during Mental Health Awareness week.

‘I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: ‘I hope your son gets corona,” Deeney told CNN Sport. ‘That’s the hard part for me. If you respond to that, people then go: ‘Ah, we’ve got him’ and they keep doing it.

‘In a time where it’s all about mental health and everyone says ‘speak up, speak out, please speak’, Danny Rose spoke out and I spoke out and we just get absolutely hammered and battered for it.

‘So people see that and go ‘woah’ and it’s not just us that gets it, the missus gets direct messages and you’ll be walking down the street and people will be like: ‘Oh, I’m at work, you go back to work’.’  

Premier League clubs have voted unanimously for a return to contact training following Government approval and that step is set to take place this week. 

And Deeney accepts he will need to accept some risk.

Watford are confident their captain will make a return before the season restarts 

CNN reported he had been speaking to England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, about the statistics which show people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

‘He’s been doing very, very good research and there is a lot of goodwill on his part to tell me, ultimately, that I’m going to be looked after as best as they can and, ultimately, there is going to be some form of risk for all of us going back to work,’ Deeney said.

‘Lockdown and the social distancing measures coming down mean people will still always have risk.’


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Maple Leafs’ John Tavares on integrity of Stanley Cup: ‘It will be as deserving as any player or team before’

Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares was in the middle of the league’s return-to-play discussions with the National Hockey League Players’ Association as a member of the Return to Play Committee. On Tuesday, the NHL announced plans for how action could resume.

If the playoffs do happen, Toronto would face the Columbus Blue Jackets in a best-of-five play-in series for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Leafs captain said keeping the integrity of the Stanley Cup was discussed heavily in a call with reporters Wednesday.

“I think anyone who gets their name on it wants to earn it like the players did before and I think we all feel given the circumstances for it, it’s not going to perfect considering we had to pause the season,” Tavares explained. “We came to the conclusion that this is the best one, whether it’s perfect or not I think can be up for debate but I think we’re going to get to our normal 16-team playoff.

“I think it’s going to be a very worthy and deserving Stanley Cup champion and it will be as deserving as any player or team before.”

Discussions are still ongoing on whether to make the first round of the playoffs a best-of-five or a best-of-seven series, but Tavares’ personal view would be to play all four rounds of the playoffs in a best-of-seven series.

Stanley Cup playoffs 2020: Everything you need to know

On Monday, the NHL announced its plans to enter Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol which would allow players to train in groups of six or fewer. Because of the extensive layoff, Tavares is wary of the injury risks players face as training ramps up.

“I think the uniqueness of our sport, unlike maybe some of the other sports where running and jumping is really a lot of the major things that you do, a lot of that you can do at home or kind of out in open space and whatnot,” Tavares described. “Obviously for us being on the ice is a big hurdle and as we started discussing with the Return to Play Committee a number of weeks ago, we really wanted to be more on the cautious side than obviously being aggressive.

“It’s obviously something we’ve never really done before but we’re going to try to make the most informed and cautious decision, the best decision that we possibly can to make sure we’re keeping guys healthy and safe. We want the quality of the hockey to be really high and when guys haven’t been on the ice for two and a half months, and then you’re jumping right into a very highly competitive competition, we really want to make sure that everyone’s prepared.”

If the Leafs return to action, general manager Kyle Dubas expects the team to be nearly at full health. Ilya Mikheyev (wrist) and Jake Muzzin (hand) haven’t been fully cleared to return to play, but he expects both to be ready if play resumes. Forward Andreas Johnsson is recovering from knee surgery, which he underwent on Feb. 19. The Leafs put his timetable for recovery at six months so he could see a return to action should Toronto be playing in August.

Tavares said it’ll be a huge boost for the team to be nearly at full strength.

“I think as you get close to the playoffs, traditionally, there’s always nicks and bruises and things guys are dealing with that, not just us but around the league, every team is going to be pretty much at full strength,” Tavares said. “I think we know when we looked at our team on paper heading into training camp this year, we were really excited about not just our back end, but really top to bottom.

“Group has been built, and certainly we’ve had some great surprises. Some guys elevated over the course of this year that only makes our club better so we got tremendous steps that are only going to continue the competition and help our preparation as we hopefully can get back to the competition in a number of weeks.

“That’ll definitely be a really good strength for us to have everyone healthy and ready to go and have that depth.”

If the Stanley Cup is awarded this year, it’ll be a road unlike any team has taken before. Dubas is embracing the chaos of the 24-team playoff and is excited for his team to compete for a championship.

“I think there are going to be a lot of interesting results in the qualifying round, just given the nature of things and the delay between the teams last played and different changes to the roster,” Dubas told reporters. “It is unique. I think we’re certainly going to embrace it as a unique experience but also as a tremendous opportunity for our team and for our group.”

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Premier League agenda as all 20 clubs prepare for season-defining meeting

Premier League clubs will hold crunch talks on Thursday over a huge TV headache.

They face having to pay back £340million to broadcasters even if they finish the season and a staggering £762m if they cannot complete the 92 fixtures.

Premier League bosses are hoping to offset the huge potential costs with Sky, BT Sport and Amazon with a “strategy for rebate minimisation” and “enhancements” to the current broadcasting package.

That would mean more games, showing back-to-back games at weekends, Champions League style double headers in midweek plus discussions on dressing room access, half time interviews and extra camera angles in empty stadiums.

It is likely to be the most important item on the agenda for Thursday’s crunch meeting with the 20 clubs.

They will also look to set a return date with the Premier League originally wanting June 12 with managers pushing for June 26.

They could compromise on the weekend of June 20-21 with Sky set to show Tottenham's clash with Manchester United as their first live game back which could be on Friday June 19 – otherwise they will try to keep Fridays clear for the EFL.

The agenda, which has been seen by Mirror Sport , will also discuss stadiums with the Premier League hopeful games will be staged in their own stadiums but neutral grounds are still on the table.

Clubs are braced for the most important meeting in Premier League history.

The video session starts at 10.30am and is expected to drag out long into the afternoon with a back-up plan also on the agenda in case the season is curtailed.

The restart date is still a sticking point even after the clubs unanimously voted through phase two of contact training.

They fear that, after such a long lay-off, they will need more time to get match fit.

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Newcastle open talks with Philippe Coutinho as Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal register interest

Newcastle have reportedly begun negotiations with Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho and they lead a host of Premier League rivals who are all vying for his signature.

Coutinho is set to return to Barcelona at the end of the season after a 12-month loan spell at Bayern Munich.

The Brazilian did not do enough to convince the Bundesliga side to trigger the purchase clause in the contract.

Barcelona will turn to the Premier League in a bid to offload the midfielder this summer.

And Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo claim Newcastle are leading the pack and have already made contact with the 27-year-old.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham are all said to have registered their interest.

Magpies owner Mike Ashley is closing in on a £300million sale of the club to a group of wealthy Saudi Arabia investors led by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

If the takeover goes through then heavy investment is expected to help Newcastle challenge at the top of the table.

And the potential new owners have apparently identified former Liverpool playmaker Coutinho as the ideal star to take them to the next level.

It was thought a move to St James’ Park would only materialise if ex-Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is brought in to replace Steve Bruce.

READ MORE

  • Valtteri Bottas opens doors for Vettel to join Lewis Hamilton

But Mundo Deportivo claim Coutinho would still be open to joining Newcastle if Rafael Benitez returns to the helm, as has been suggested this week.

Meanwhile, Leicester have also been linked with a move for Coutinho as Brendan Rodgers managed the midfielder during their time together at Liverpool.

But the Northern Irishman ruled out a reunion with the Barca star.

“I’ve seen lots of speculation around young Phil,” Rodgers told the Eamonn and the Gaffers podcast.

“I don’t think… Philippe’s a wonderful player, a brilliant talent.

“But he would be someone who is way out of our price bracket.

“The market I feel is going to be very difficult this year, this coming summer.

“It’s one where we have discussions but there’s certainly nothing concrete at this stage.”

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Eoin Morgan rejuvenated and is committed to leading white-ball side

I WILL play on: Eoin Morgan reveals he is rejuvenated by his break from the game and is still committed to leading white-ball side… and he could extend his reign to include a World Cup title defence in 2023

  • Eoin Morgan insists he is still focused on captaining England’s white-ball team
  • The Irishman skippered the side to World Cup glory at Lord’s last July
  • Now, after a break from the game a rejuvenated Morgan is ready to do it all again

If there were any doubts Eoin Morgan still holds a statesmanlike grip on the England white-ball captaincy they were quickly dispelled on Wednesday when he ruthlessly dismissed the case for recalling Alex Hales before expressing his desire to march on at the helm of his side.

There was no sitting on a metaphorical Zoom fence when Morgan was asked whether the time was now right to forgive the disgraced opener who was banished on the eve of last year’s triumphant World Cup campaign for concealing the results of a drugs test.

Instead there were echoes of Kevin Pietersen about Morgan’s insistence it will take a lot longer than 12 months to rebuild a complete breakdown of trust and bring Hales back into a white-ball training group the captain said should not even be described as a squad.

A rejuvenated Eoin Morgan insists he is still focused on captaining England’s white-ball team

‘Trust is a complete feeling,’ said Morgan. ‘And it is demonstrated by things you say you are going to do and how you follow through with that.’ Basically the message was, you could have cost us the World Cup, Alex, so you can wait a bit longer.

Equally, there was little hesitation when Morgan was asked whether a global crisis that looks certain to begin playing havoc with the international calendar with the postponement of October’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia will affect his longevity.

Not only does Morgan intend to fulfil his stated aim of leading England in the next two short-form global tournaments but he might now even extend his reign to include a defence in 2023 of the 50-over World Cup he lifted so dramatically at Lord’s last July.

‘This doesn’t change my view,’ said Morgan, speaking on the 15th anniversary of Chance to Shine, the charity he was due to support this season through his Middlesex testimonial before the world was put on hold.

 Morgan (left) says Alex Hales (right) could still be some way away from an England comeback

‘For the simple reason that a lot of players will have benefited from this break. It’s not just physical but a complete mental refresh from the game we’re so involved with. I’ve certainly benefited from the break and I feel at the stage now where I want to pick up a bat again and I’m ready to go. That’s always a nice place to be.

‘I’m in a high-performance industry and if you’re not performing you can’t just carry on. But my ambition would certainly be to still play in the next two Twenty20 World Cups even if they are put back.’

The likelihood, which Morgan agrees with, is that this year’s tournament will be put back a year, with the next T20 tournament currently scheduled to follow on just a year later in India also needing to be postponed.

So that could then take place barely a year away from the next 50-over World Cup, also due in India. Surely it would be tempting to carry on even if Morgan will be 37 in 2023? 

Morgan captained England’s white-ball team to World Cup glory at Lord’s last July

The 33-year-old struggled with back issues during the 50-ball tournament last summer

The captain smiled, albeit remotely. ‘A lot of it will depend on my body,’ said Morgan. ‘I just about got over the line physically at the World Cup last year because I had a little hiccup with my back. If it continues to get better then yes there could be a chance. But if it continues to deteriorate I can’t look beyond the two T20 World Cups.’

Perhaps the most encouraging feature of Morgan’s address on Wednesday was his faith in the way ECB are handling the coronavirus crisis and his confidence that the provisional international schedule they hope to confirm on Friday will go ahead.

That proposed schedule sees their three-Test series against West Indies, which should be signed off on Thursday, dominating July and three subsequent Tests against Pakistan taking up much of August. A separate white-ball squad will just play three 50-over matches against Ireland sandwiched between the two Test series and, if all is still well, T20 games against Pakistan and Australia in September.

‘I’ve been extremely impressed with the ECB and the medical staff appointed to map our route back to cricket,’ said the all-powerful Morgan. ‘Everything is transparent and at the forefront of that has been player safety and well-being.

Morgan (pictured) spoke with Sportsmail’s Paul Newman over Zoom about his future

Morgan is confident he will be able to lead England out at the next two T20 World Cups

‘Moving forward, everything looks extremely optimistic about playing in the timeline they are working on providing nothing changes between now and then.’

Morgan knows that, now one World Cup has been won and the attempt to win another will probably be delayed, his white-ball heroes will have to again take a back-seat to the Test team. For now England’s all-format players will concentrate on the red-ball.

‘There’s a strong chance of that,’ admitted Morgan. ‘We said even before the pandemic we would use the 50-over matches against Ireland to try to grow our squad of 15 players. We also planned to use them to give our senior players a break.

‘Now you look at how the schedule will be, and how compact it is, and we will have to see if anyone will be able to jump from one format and squad to the other. And I think it would be completely unreasonable to expect players to take part in every game. I think we can grow the white-ball squad while the Test side can still perform.’

Morgan was speaking ahead of an online event to celebrate 15 years of the Chance to Shine charity which has given 5 million children the opportunity to play and develop through cricket

For now cricket has got a great chance of resuming business on July 8, even if it is behind closed doors. ‘Every sport is really struggling but we are in a unique position where we don’t have a lot of contact,’ added Morgan. ‘Social distancing is part and parcel of playing cricket so we might get back earlier than other sports.

‘Safety is the priority but once that is ticked off I think as a playing group we’re prepared to commit to whatever cricket is possible. We will do whatever we can as players. There is more light at the end of our tunnel.’

Sadly for Alex Hales, though, the light at the end of that tunnel is red.

Eoin Morgan was speaking ahead of an online event to celebrate 15 years of the Chance to Shine charity. Since 2005, over five million children have been given the opportunity to play, learn and develop through cricket thanks to the work of the charity.




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Liverpool PULL PLUG on Timo Werner transfer and end talks with RB Leipzig striker

Liverpool have reportedly refused to pay Timo Werner’s £52million release clause and withdrawn from negotiations with RB Leipzig. The Reds were closing in on an agreement before the coronavirus outbreak.

But Liverpool’s finances have been hit hard by the lack of revenue in the last two months while matches have been postponed.

Werner has flirted with the prospect of moving to Anfield next summer and will have only done his hopes well by netting a hat-trick against Mainz at the weekend.

However, the Mirror claim Liverpool will stand firm and pay no more than £30m at the end of the season.

A similar stance is being undertook by the Bundesliga club as they will not drop their valuation below £50m.

That means talks have hit an impasse and Liverpool will no longer pursue the forward this year.

Transfers are expected to be heavily affected by the global pandemic as fees are set to drop in the next window.

Clubs will have much less money to spend given the lack of matches played over recent months.

However, Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff insists his side do not need to recoup any cash by flogging their top stars on the cheap.

“It won’t get any cheaper,” the chief said of Werner. “We will not sell a player below value if he is under contract for more than a year.

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“In general, we always ask the question: can we replace a player if we sell him for less than his market value?”

Meanwhile, Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann has recently admitted his star is considering walking away from the club.

“He is in a good mood, feels good and trains well,” Nagelsmann told Sport Bild.

“I do not have the impression that he is carrying a large cross with him. But he is a young guy who is sure to sit at home with his girlfriend and ponder whether he will stay or change.

“When the question is in the room, you are always a little bit somewhere else. It was no different for me than when in Hoffenheim, it was about whether I go away.

“It is more obvious with strikers, because then there are phases in which they do not score.”

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