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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DEREK LAWRENSON: Tiger and Phil put on superb show in charity tie

DEREK LAWRENSON: It’s a win-win as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson put on a superb show in ‘The Match: Champions for Charity’ encounter in Florida to raise £16.4m for Covid-19 relief charities

  • Shown in UK on CNN, it was the most entertaining golf telecast I’ve seen in years 
  • Laugh out loud funny on the front nine, it turned into a gripping climax 
  • As so often in their careers, however, it was Tiger Woods who had the last word

Who says that sequels are never as good as the original? No one who tuned into The Match: Champions for Charity on Sunday night could hold that view.

The first encounter featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in Las Vegas 18 months ago stank the joint out. What a contrast this time from Florida, and five hours of programming that must have had the man who turned it down for Sky Sports getting almost as many dirty looks as Dominic Cummings.

Shown in the UK on CNN, it was the most entertaining golf telecast I’ve seen in years. Laugh out loud funny on the front nine, it turned into a gripping climax despite the wind, rain and finally the gathering darkness on the inward half.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson went head-to-head once again on Sunday night in The Match: Champions for Charity alongside NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady

It was a much more entertaining occasion than their previous encounter in Las Vegas

All too often, golf on TV features pros who don’t smile and commentators who send the head spinning with statistical data. Here was the first programme I can remember watching that reflected the game we love at club level, as the jokes and banter early on gave way to a bit of serious stuff at the end.

So many people in America enjoyed it that the extraordinary sum of $20million (£16.4m) was raised for Covid-19 relief charities. That’s what you call a win-win.

Tremendous credit goes to the superstar quarterbacks who bravely put themselves forward to partner Woods and Mickelson — Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

The latter, surely the greatest American footballer of all time, has a reputation for being po-faced but millions will now have a different view. For six holes Brady couldn’t hit a shot, and then he sank a wedge approach from 100 yards. All four players were mic’d up and we hadn’t heard a peep from him to that point. Now, you couldn’t shut him up. Isn’t that golf to a tee, as a moment in the sun gloriously makes up for all the maddening frustration?

Walking the fairways, world No 4 Justin Thomas — a close friend of Woods’ — proved a natural as an on-course commentator. In the booth, basketball legend Charles Barkley, a golfing hacker, was riotously funny.

Mickelson and Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Brady put on an entertaining show for viewers

If there was one small complaint, it would be that the greensomes format should have been used for all 18 holes rather than just the back nine (fourballs, which take too long, was used over the outward half).

What a treat it was to see all four players tee off and then watch the two pros calculate how they could best protect their amateur partners, as the two teams picked one drive and played alternate shots thereafter. Bizarrely, Mickelson and Brady scored far better at this format than at fourballs. Three down after nine, they reduced the arrears to one with some inspiring play, despite vicious downpours. Mickelson became a dervish, bringing the competitor out of Brady.

Manning paired up with Woods and the two secured victory over their illustrious opponents


‘We take great pride in the fact that many thousands try to qualify each year for the US Open and it’s heartbreaking for us not to be able to conduct such qualifying competitions this year.’

Giving all pros, and amateurs with the requisite handicap abilities, the chance to qualify and play in the US Open lies at the heart of what the event is about.

So you can only imagine how difficult the decision was for John Bodenhamer, who oversees the tournament, to cancel qualifying for this year’s edition, owing to the pandemic.

Due to take place in September at Winged Foot, New York, it will now be the first all-exempt US Open since the early days of the championship, more than 100 years ago.

As so often in their careers, however, it was Woods who had the last word. Excitingly for the game, ahead of the PGA Tour’s resumption in Texas in just over a fortnight, he looked in great nick. Swinging the club beautifully, he never missed a fairway on his home course, the Medalist, less than an hour from Miami. Needing two putts to win from long range in near darkness, he took all the pressure off Manning with the perfect lag putt to six inches for a one-hole victory.

The game has often resorted to gimmicks recently to project itself beyond its die-hard audience. Pretty much all have come across as phoney, however well-meaning. This one succeeded resoundingly, illustrating to non-believers what the fuss is about and showcasing why so many top sportsmen love playing golf in their spare time.

In short, the perfect sequel — one that left us yearning for part three.

The special match was a success and left us yearning for part three between the two stars

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Glamorous, glitzy and so gaudy.. Monaco's the ultimate F1 spectacle

Stars from Sinatra to Bieber, Prince Albert’s cocktail party, a £100,000-a-night hotel suite and 200,000 fans make Monaco the ultimate F1 spectacle… but the party is over for now

  • The harbour remains home to the planet’s greatest motor-racing spectacle 
  • The ‘haves and have-yachts’ usually spend £100m during their days of plenty
  • But coronavirus has struck and, for the first time since 1955, the race is off 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Of all the spots, in all the world, that would have been heaven to attend this weekend, the Monaco Grand Prix leads them all.

It is always best if someone else is picking up the tab. In fact, it is almost the only way to do it without breaking the bank at, well, Monte Carlo.

But every trip to that overpriced, cliched harbour of the gorgeous and the gaudy is worth it because it remains home to the planet’s greatest motor-racing spectacle.

British legend Stirling Moss joins the party with fashion model Liz Hooley in 1973

For this annual jamboree on the cramped principality, just over half the size of New York’s Central Park, marginally outstrips the Indianapolis 500 that usually takes place on the same day with its counter-charms of Gasoline Alley and American machismo.

Given his death last month, it is appropriate to recall Sir Stirling Moss, the first Briton to win at Monaco in 1956, to put his finger on this playground’s fusion of attractions. ‘Monaco,’ he said, pronouncing it Mu-narr-co, of course, ‘has always been the place of glamour.

‘All the pretty girls come over the road from Italy. You wave at them and blow kisses as you drive around. These things are all part and parcel of it. But you must be prepared to dabble on the boundary of disaster.’

He just found time around Loews hairpin for his salute to the blondes. His victory in 1961, the last of his three on the thin ribbon of road that would never meet health and safety criteria if it were starting today, was the one he rated highest of all his grand prix drives, as he held off the superior Ferraris lap after lap.

Yachts and spectators line the race track during the Monaco Grand Prix last year

Ayrton Senna, who won the race a record six times, produced a similarly astonishing performance in taking pole position 1.4 sec ahead of his second-placed McLaren team-mate Alain Prost in 1988.

Was it a lap at 100 per cent? David Coulthard, twice a winner, says that is impossible, given the dangers represented by the Armco barriers on the slowest but most testing track of the year.

‘It’s about knowing where you can push, about trying to maximise braking, hitting the apex and making a good exit,’ explained the Scot. ‘What you can’t do on this circuit is look away and back up again.’ In normal times, we would have followed Lewis Hamilton this weekend aiming for his fourth Monaco victory.

Instead, the world champion is lying low in America, away from his main address in the principality, which is still the tax haven home of most of the grid’s leading cast.

Coronavirus has struck and, for the first time since 1955, the race is cancelled. The cost to the local economy is some £100million — the amount the ‘haves and have-yachts’ usually spend during their days of plenty, as they compete to be heard above the scream of the engines. Glasses are clinked, deals are struck.

Three-time world champion Jackie Stewart hangs out with Princess Caroline in 1977

The grandes dames of hotels are the Hermitage and Hotel de Paris, right on Casino Square. The Churchill Suite at the Hotel de Paris goes for £100,000 a night on race weekends. But tonight, the party having died, an ordinary room is yours for £600. Chicken feed.

Few of the party crowd have access to the tunnel during the practice session, when, if they had, the streaking cars would rattle their senses from head to toe.

Another joy is to stand on the pit lane overlooking the swimming pool complex. There you see, close up, the dexterity of these machines, slowing and accelerating with two-fingers to physics.

Hamilton has known good days and bad in Monaco. He has won there in every formula, including the GP2 race in 2006 when he announced his incoming talent to a wider world. It was, however, the same place where, after driving way below his talents in 2011, he wondered aloud why the stewards had penalised him. ‘Maybe it’s because I’m black,’ he half-joked. ‘That’s what Ali G says.’

Riccardo Patrese celebrates his dramatic victory with Prince Rainier III in 1982

But that was a minor slip compared to the sporting deception when Michael Schumacher parked his car on the racing line at the Rascasse corner, impeding Fernando Alonso, whose pole lap he was trying to frustrate.

The Ferrari man protested his innocence. He always did. But Keke Rosberg, the 1982 world champion, convicted him as a ‘cheap cheat’.

The stewards took until late into the night to reach the obvious verdict. Schumacher was chucked to the back of the grid. He drove brilliantly the next day to finish fifth, on a track where it is meant to be impossible to overtake. That weekend in 2006 framed the worst and the best of him.

From the criminal to the tragic. In 1967, two years before Schumacher was born, another Ferrari driver, Lorenzo Bandini, crashed and died in his burning car.

Twelve editions before, Alberto Ascari, the double world champion, had overshot the chicane on the exit of the tunnel and careered into the sea. There was nobody to fish him out. He swam to safety. Four days later he died testing a sports car at Monza.

Lewis Hamilton has known good days and bad at Monaco with three victories under his belt

The glamour of Monaco was sharpened by the marriage in 1956 into the 13th century royal family of the Hollywood actress, Grace Kelly. ‘She was, as custom dictated, known as Her Serene Highness,’ Sir Jackie Stewart once noted of his friend. ‘And the title fitted her perfectly.’ Up in the Grimaldi Palace that overlooks the track, Rainier and Grace’s heir, Prince Albert, and his wife Princess Charlene host the Friday night cocktail party and the gala dinner after the race. Black tie and all that.

The rhythm of the Monte Carlo weekend is different from other grands prix, just as the panjandrums of the Automobile Club de Monaco like it: practice on Thursday, a day off on Friday for a bank holiday, before the usual qualifying on Saturday and race on Sunday.

A plethora of stars have attended across the years, from Sinatra to Bieber, heaven forfend!

Often, the glitterati have high-stepped their Jimmy Choo’s from the Cannes Film Festival to be out there on the packed grid, sashaying among the snazzy people before the lights go out. Every inch of escarpment and balcony is filled with craning necks, 200,000 in all.

An all-time favourite there was Graham Hill, the five-time winner they called ‘Mr Monaco’. Celebrating his win in 1965, he was singing so loudly in Rosie’s Bar that two gendarmes arrived to arrest him. He invited them in, bought them a beer, and the party went on.

But it is over for now. Yes, there are downsides to Monaco. Some pug-ugly buildings. The dodgy phone signals. A race that is often a procession. And, yes, it can be, as Lord Charteris remarked of the Duchess of York, ‘Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar!’ But, really, you can’t see those glitches clearly when you are under its spell.

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Wasps and Gloucester warn stars that 25 per cent pay cuts will go on

Premiership player exodus feared with Wasps and Gloucester among clubs to warn stars that 25% pay cuts will continue for ‘foreseeable future’

  • It is understood that Wasps have informed squad that cuts will be permanent
  • Stars at Gloucester and other clubs were warned reductions are likely to extend
  • Clubs in the top division face a bleak financial outlook as a result of lockdown 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Gloucester and Wasps are among a host of Premiership clubs who have informed players that their pay cuts will continue for the ‘foreseeable future’, prompting fears of an exodus from the league.

As first reported by Sportsmail on May 1, clubs in the top division – facing a bleak financial outlook as a result of the current shut-down – have been in talks for weeks about turning the emergency 25 per cent salary reductions into a long-term policy; the so-called ‘new normal’. 

It is understood that they had agreed to collectively implement the plan, in an attempt to avert the threat of players leaving in droves, but that appears to be an increasing possibility.

Wasps and Gloucester have informed players that their pay cuts will continue in the future

It is understood that Wasps have informed staff and players that cuts will become permanent 

Squads are expected to resume training this week against a backdrop of unrest. The pay cuts are regarded as a breach of contract, which would allow players to move on whenever they wish. With the vast majority of the Premiership united in a pledge not to poach from each other, there are already rumours about defections to Japan, where there is financial stability and high wages.

Multiple sources indicated on Tuesday night that Wasps have informed staff and players that the cuts will become permanent, while players at Gloucester and other clubs have already been warned that reductions are likely to extend for the duration of current contracts. 

In March, Sportsmail reported that players at certain clubs were openly discussing the option of taking strike action if their full pay was not reinstated when training started again, so that scenario could come to a head soon.

Premiership outfit Wasps are struggling to cope with huge debts at the moment

Officials from Premiership Rugby and the players’ union, the RPA, are due to hold a conference cal on Wednesday to thrash out the exact details of how clubs can start preparing together for a return to action, with players training in small groups.

Sale appeared to jump the gun by reconvening at their Carrington base on Monday, before being given the all-clear to do so, in line with a league-wide agreement, but it is understood that the Cheshire club abandoned their activities on Tuesday, after pressure was applied. They will now wait for permission to proceed.

Meanwhile, club officials are on Wednesday due to discuss the myriad recommendations in the Myners report about an overhaul of the salary cap. There is not expected to be a decision yet about whether to implement the proposals, but sources have claimed that the vast majority of clubs are ready to vote in favour of the changes, in the aftermath of Saracens being found guilty of past cap breaches and condemned to relegation.

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Lampard hopes Wililan and Giroud will sign short-term extensions

Frank Lampard hopeful of convincing out-of-contract Chelsea stars including Willian and Olivier Giroud to sign short-term extensions to finish the season at Stamford Bridge

  • Frank Lampard hopes to convince out-of-contract stars to sign short-term deals  Chelsea have Willian and Olivier Giroud who are set to be free agents on June 30
  • New rules mean clubs can agree short-term extensions to finish the season 
  • The Blues are preparing to return to training at their Cobham base next week
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Frank Lampard is determined to convince Chelsea’s out-of-contract players to sign short-term extensions in order to see out the delayed Premier League season at Stamford Bridge.

Willian and Olivier Giroud are among the big-name stars whose existing deals expire on June 30, but new rules introduced due to the coronavirus pandemic will allow them to strike mutual deals to complete the campaign.

Premier League clubs are meeting again this week to discuss the next stage of Project Restart, with most Chelsea players expected to return to training at Cobham by the middle of next week.

Frank Lampard is hopeful of convincing Chelsea’s out of contract players to sign extensions

New rules could see Willian and Olivier Giroud pen short-term deals to finish the season 

Lampard told Chelsea’s official website: ‘We have big players in that position so that’s obviously something I’m looking at very carefully.

‘The ones out of contract here have been great servants for the club and actually have a lot of feeling for the club, but of course they will be concerned about themselves in terms of how they are now, and if pre-season is rushed they’ll want to make sure they’re alright.

‘So it’s going to have to be something we look at. Hopefully we can have that arrangement so they can stay with us because if we play again I would love the squad to look as it’s looked all season, but we’ll have to see how that works.’

The Chelsea boss said he will take the views of his players into account on returning to action

Lampard’s squad is potentially on a tight schedule with June 12 still being mooted as a prospective return date, despite a number of top players, including Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose, expressing misgivings.

And Lampard insisted he would take the views of his players into account as he looks to strike the right balance between a rigorous training programme with reduced staff levels, and his players’ specific physical and psychological needs.

Lampard added: ‘It’s been a job for us as staff to plan how phase one will look because it will be quite different due to the restrictions on how we can work.

‘It’s good for the players because they will be wanting to get back training in the right conditions; we know it’s difficult circumstances for everyone so it’s going to be a challenge to make sure that we get it right.

‘Our job from the coaching side is to make sure we’re careful with the players. The first steps will have to be very careful but all managers will be thinking a similar thing.

‘You can’t just tell them we’re going in this direction because this is something that’s affected everyone and their families.

‘Football has been put in its place. Everyone wants to get back playing, we all miss it, but we need to know the players are comfortable.’

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Lewandowski and Pavard celebrate in silence as Bayern return with win

Benjamin Pavard abandons social distancing as he hugs team-mates after scoring in Bayern Munich’s win over Union Berlin… but Robert Lewandowski stuck to elbow bumps as gap at top goes back to four points

  • The Bundesliga continued to lead football’s restart with the champions in action
  • Bayern Munich beat Union Berlin 2-0 in the German capital club’s empty stadium
  • With no fans to distract him, Robert Lewandowski swept in his first-half penalty 
  • Benjamin Pavard sealed the points but broke social distancing in celebration
  • Borussia Dortmund beat Schalke 4-0 on Saturday but Bayern moved clear again 

Bayern Munich reinstated their four-point lead over Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga on Sunday, shaking off their lockdown rust to cruise past Union Berlin 2-0. 

With the soon-to-be-familiar echoed calls and eerie silence in the 22,000 stadium providing the backdrop, the Bundesliga continued to lead football’s comeback with all eyes on the late kick-off.   

As both Bayern and Union’s substitutes sat scattered in the stands, the German champions took control of their first trip to the Stadion An der Alten Forsterei.  

Robert Lewandowski was on target with a penalty as Bayern Munich beat Union Berlin 

The star swept home a 40th minute penalty after a stuttered run-up to take the lead 

The match formed part of day two of the Bundesliga’s restart without fans in the stadiums 

The Union supporters were cruelly denied the chance to support their club as they hosted the Champions League winners for the first time, with the popular promoted side still settling in during their first Bundesliga season. 

They had little answer for Bayern’s muscle though, and Serge Gnabry would have been Bayern’s first post-lockdown scorer if an offside Thomas Muller hadn’t tapped in his goal-bound effort after 18 minutes. 

They were instead gifted their opener 40 minutes in, when ex-Dortmund star Neven Subotic clumsily swiped Leon Goretzka down within 18-yards of the hosts’ goal. 

Substitutes sat socially distanced in the stands, the only spectators in the 22,000 ground 

Thomas Muller thought he had opened the scoring after 18 minutes, but was ruled offiside

Without the hostile Union fans’ whistles and jeers, Robert Lewandowski reignited his prolific form, stuttering his run-up before firing in the spot-kick for 1-0. 

The Pole’s muted celebration saw him merely hand out fist bumps, adhering to protocols banning unnecessary contact. 

Bayern never stepped into top gear in the second-half, looking sleepy in midfield under the late-evening sun, grateful for a gentler restart against a hard-working Union who lacked final-third talent.     

Benjamin Pavard opted to hug his team-mate in celebration, as Lewandowski stayed distanced

Alphonso Davies was a threat but Bayern were pedestrian at times with the silent backdrop 

Benjamin Pavard met Joshua Kimmich’s 80th minute corner to seal the win for Bayern 

The win was sealed with 10 minutes to go as Joshua Kimmich’s out-swinging corner was met by Benjamin Pavard’s powerful header, seeing the Frenchman instantly forget social distancing rules and run to embrace his team-mates. 

The final whistle was met with tumbleweed rather than a roar, as Bayern moved four points clear of Dortmund yet again after BVB’s 4-0 win over Schalke on Saturday. 

Union next face their city rivals Hertha Berlin in a game that will sorely miss having fans in the stadium, as the underdogs look to continue exceeding expectations by hovering above a relegation battle.

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Pogba, Pereira and Lindelof step up training at Cheshire cricket club

Manchester United stars Paul Pogba, Andreas Pereira and Victor Lindelof step up training with session at local Cheshire cricket club ahead of proposed Premier League return next month

  • The trio also took part in a training session in a Cheshire field on Tuesday
  • There was no sign of striker Anthony Martial who took part in Tuesday’s session 
  • But the trio continued to work on physical fitness and dribbling and passing
  • Their second session this week comes amid talk of a possible June 19 restart 

Paul Pogba and some of his Manchester United team-mates stepped up their training regime – by training at a local cricket club in Cheshire on Thursday afternoon.

The France midfielder took part in drills with Anthony Martial, Andreas Pereira and Victor Lindelof in a Cheshire field on Tuesday.

And with the United players continuing to observe social distancing rules in their training, Pogba was joined by Pereira and Lindelof again on Thursday to gear up for a return to on-field action.

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba stepped up training with a session at a cricket club

The Frenchman already took part in a session in a Cheshire field on Tuesday with team-mates

On Tuesday, the four United players took part in sprinting exercises as well as dribbling and passing drills, and it appears ball work with feet and head as well as physical fitness was once again on the agenda on Thursday.

French World Cup winner Pogba – wearing a rather showy top – has been linked with a move away from Old Trafford this summer, but has been building his fitness up ahead of the potential return of the Premier League next month.

And he was once again joined by a rather more casually dressed Pereira and Lindelof for what appeared to be a very similar session to Tuesday, although there appeared to be no sign of Martial.

The players’ second captured session of the week comes amid fears that the Premier League’s Project Restart is in a race against time, with kick-off potentially put back a week to June 19. 

And he was once again joined by centre-back Victor Lindelof at the Cheshire cricket club

Andreas Pereira was dressed more casually than the Frenchman for the physical session

The news came after video calls with Premier League captains and managers on Wednesday, which saw concerns raised over quick turnaround.

The managers in particular are understood to have questioned whether they would be ready for a return to action on June 12, highlighting concerns over their players’ fitness and as a result the quality of football they would be able to produce. 

Sportsmail understands the earliest date for resumption of full training is June 1, leading several managers to say that expecting them to be ready to play on June 12, after just nine or 10 days’ training, is unreasonable, particularly as rest days also have to be factored in.

The issue of players breaking down was also raised and as a result June 19 was suggested as a more realistic return date, a view which the Premier League agreed to consider.

Their second session comes amid news of a possible delay to the June 12 restart date

Premier League managers expressed their concerns about the short turnaround period

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Whyte warns legends Tyson and Holyfield against professional comeback

‘You’re in your 50s now, just relax… don’t try to get back in the ring’: Dillian Whyte warns legends Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield against professional comeback

  • Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield have been working towards boxing comeback 
  • Both heavyweight legends are in their fifties but are threatening to return  
  • Tyson has impressed fans by posting clips of his impressive power on the pads 
  • Dillian Whyte is concerned and thinks there’s a real chance they’ll get hurt  

Dillian Whyte has cautioned Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield against making professional returns to the ring, warning the former world heavyweight champions that doing so could result in serious injury.

The pair have both released videos of themselves training recently and speculation is mounting that they could fight for a third time, almost a quarter of a century on from Tyson biting Holyfield’s ear in their famous rematch.

While they are regarded as two of the finest heavyweights of their, or any, era, and broke several records between them, Tyson is now 53 while Holyfield is four years older.

Dillian Whyte has urged both Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield to stay retired 

Tyson has been posting videos of his training footage on Instagram and is keen on a comeback

Whyte can see why an exhibition match might be arranged but the Londoner argued anything further between two men who have not fought for several years would be a step too far.

Whyte said: ‘There’s so many different thoughts and ways to think about this.

‘If they want to do something for charity in an exhibition match, that’s fine. But as long as they keep it like that and don’t try to get back in the professional ring.

‘Because what it does, it diminishes all of their hard work they’ve done over the years. 

‘It’s like ‘you’re in your fifties now, just relax, enjoy your success and enjoy your retirement’. They might get hurt, you know?’

Boxing is littered with examples of fighters coming back into the paid ranks after retiring but Whyte does not plan on adding to that number, insisting he will listen to those close to him if told to hang up his gloves.

Whyte, the mandatory challenger for the WBC heavyweight title currently held by British rival Tyson Fury, said: ‘I have a plan to get out at a certain age and not look back.

‘That’s my plan and I’ve got people around me who if I ever try to go on too long, they’ll tell me straight and I’ll just walk away. 

‘If those people aren’t around me, I wouldn’t box anymore.’

Tyson could have an exhibition fight but Whyte is concerned about his health 

I’ve Been There is on BBC iPlayer now and on BBC Sounds from May 20

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Flirting between Hamilton and Ferrari might turn into a real romance

JONATHAN MCEVOY: With Sebastian Vettel’s departure now official, the flirting between Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari might just turn into a real romance if they can afford him in post-lockdown Formula One

  • Sebastian Vettel announced he will walk away from Ferrari at end of the season
  • It has reignited talk that Lewis Hamilton could soon swap Mercedes for Ferrari
  • Ferrari could go ahead by signing from a list of good ‘No 2s’ led by Carlos Sainz
  • Many would argue the Italian giants already have their No 1 in Charles Leclerc 
  • But can Ferrari and six-time world champion Hamilton resist each other? 

Sebastian Vettel has announced that he is leaving Ferrari, so what will Lewis Hamilton do? The fluttering eyelashes, which have entranced him on and off all his life, are there catching his attention at home in lockdown California.

Officially, the line from Maranello is that he is not in their thoughts, and it may well be that they go ahead with the much less dramatic signing from a list of good ‘No 2s’ led by Carlos Sainz of McLaren.

But Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton is the greatest racer in the world, and Ferrari are the sport’s most beguiling and successful team in history.

Could six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton make the switch from Mercedes to Ferrari?

Sebastian Vettel announced he is leaving Italian giants Ferrari at the end of the 2020 season

Can either resist the other?

It would certainly be a middle-management fudge if Ferrari did not seek to enlist the six-time world champion to write another chapter in the fabled stories of team and driver.

Some will say the Scuderia already have their No 1 in Charles Leclerc, whose precocious talent has, one way and another, sealed Vettel’s departure. But the 22-year-old Monegasque is a good performer, perhaps a very good one, but the extent of his capabilities are only partially known after one year in red.

He could not be compared to Hamilton, a driver who arrived like a starburst in 2007 and has rewritten the record books ever since.

Sources within Ferrari indicate that they tested the Brit out a year ago, but that they have since transferred their sights to supporting Lelcerc, as their man for the future as well as for now.

McLaren’s Carlos Sainz leads the list of good ‘No 2s’ that Ferrari could potentially sign

Many would argue Ferrari already have their No 1 in Charles Leclerc – tipped for a huge future

There does, however, remain the chance that Hamilton could yet sway them by making a telephone call to John Elkann, the Ferrari chairman, who has spoken to the driver before about the potential of his joining.

Yes, finance may come into it in these straightened times of coronavirus. Sainz, a decent peddler and perhaps a bit more, would move for £10million or so a year, minimally a third of what it would take to shift Hamilton from Mercedes.

Hamilton, 35, has said that he values his long ties with Mercedes. Fine up to a point. But that was before the bloody doors were blown off today.

We will have to wait and see. All we know for sure is that a seat is available at Ferrari next year, that Hamilton has not signed a contract extension beyond this season with Mercedes. 

And that there would be nothing more romantic in Formula One than him chasing a seventh or eighth world title in a red car, gunning for Michael Schumacher’s last testaments of brilliance.

Hamilton battles it out with Ferrari driver Vettel during the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Albon talks lockdown and teaming up with City striker Sergio Aguero

‘They are super competitive… they don’t do something to lose’: Red Bull driver Alex Albon talks life in lockdown and teaming up with Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero for this weekend’s Virtual Spanish Grand Prix

  • Red Bull driver Alex Albon is taking to the virtual track during the lockdown 
  • The 2020 F1 season has yet to get underway with 10 races off due to COVID-19 
  • Albon has turned to baking and is strict with siblings when it comes to internet
  • He teams up with Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero for a Virtual GP this weekend 

Observing lockdown at home with his four siblings brings challenges but Alex Albon has just one rule to ensure total anarchy is avoided.

‘The only thing is once I start the virtual races they are not allowed on the internet! We don’t want any dropouts,’ he says on our Zoom call from his back garden.

By wheel, he means the race-car simulator in his room, and the Red Bull driver takes no chances when it comes to virtual racing. For those in-game laps, Netflix shows have to take a back-seat.

Red Bull driver Alexander Albon has reflected on his time in lockdown with the season halted

He has been maintaining his competitive edge at home on his drive simulator with virtual races

He is teaming up with Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero for the Virtual Spanish Grand Prix

Had all gone to plan, Albon, who was preparing for his first full season with Red Bull following his mid-season promotion from feeder team Toro Rosso, would have rolled into Barcelona with the rest of the F1 circus this weekend for the sixth race of the season.

Instead, the 24-year-old is back at his family house in Milton Keynes with his three sisters and brother, playing the role of personal trainer, baker, quiz master and virtual racer.

‘I wouldn’t like to tell you how many banana breads we have made,’ he said.

‘I have got them joining in on my circuit training drills. A lot of my gym sessions I bring them along and we train together. They say what I do is a bit extreme so I feel like a bit of a personal trainer and I am telling them different exercises to do instead, but it’s good.’

The first 10 races of the season have been cancelled or postponed due to the impact of COVID-19 and having seen it escalate so quickly ahead of the opening race in Melbourne, Australia, Albon admits it has been a ‘strange’ shutdown with such a long absence from the track.

‘It escalated so quickly,’ he explained. ‘I think that was what threw a lot of us off. We were leaving on the Monday or Tuesday to Australia and things were very normal. Then, very quickly, it escalates and by the time it was Friday, we weren’t driving. 

Aguero has been getting to grips with the Red Bull wheels online ahead of the weekend’s race

Albon is good friends with drivers like George Russell (right) but is determined to beat peers


Sergio Aguero – Manchester City

Thibaut Courtois – Real Madrid

Arthur Melo – Barcelona

Ian Poulter –  Golfer 

‘It was very bizarre. It was the right thing to do but at the same time it was weird. Flying around the world to spend a day in a country and then fly back is quite weird.’

While he accepts virtual racing ‘is not the same’ as going full throttle on the track for real, it has ensured he has kept his competitive streak going, competing against Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, Williams’ George Russell and McLaren’s Lando Norris, all of whom have grown up together through karting.

What started out ‘as a bit of fun’ quickly became so competitive that they introduced in-game testing to get the edge on their rival. The fun was over.

Leclerc won the opening two virtual grands prix but was prevented a three-peat of wins after Albon emerged victorious on the Interlagos circuit.

‘It is good to have that competition back because we do crave it,’ he added.

But with the drivers all smiles, laughing, joking and appearing closer than ever, will they lose any of their edge when the season returns in Austria on July 5?

‘Just because we are friendly off track doesn’t mean we are friendly on track,’ he said. ‘We are very different people once we put our helmets on. We are all used to it and we know each other pretty well. But there is no difference – once that helmet goes on, everyone is an enemy.’

Albon reflected on the ‘cool’ experience of driving through the streets of Holland in winter

Albon is used to being paired with Max Verstappen to attack other teams on the grid but this weekend he finds himself with a sniper of a different kind in Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero.

The coronavirus lockdown has brought out a love of racing, particularly among footballers, and the virtual races have seen Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and England cricketer Ben Stokes compete with Barcelona’s Arthur Melo joining Aguero for the Spanish GP this weekend.

But will Aguero, who boasts 180 goals in the Premier League, have what it takes in Albon’s opinion to attack the rest of the grid?

‘I have found with these guys that they are super competitive,’ he added.

‘They don’t do something to lose. I remember they both, before Sergio, were practising and training more than we would! They were unbelievable, they were ruthless.’

Alex Albon was speaking following the launch of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s ‘Race to Zandvoort’. For more info visit – https://www.redbull.com/int-en/redbullracing

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