Evening Sports Update

HORSE RACING

Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Thistlecrack will miss the rest of the season after suffering a tendon injury.

The Colin Tizzard-trained nine-year-old won his first four starts over fences, including the King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day.

Native River is the new Gold Cup favourite – ahead of Cue Card and Willie Mullins’ Djakadam.

Mike Vince reports

RUGBY

Ireland skills coach Richie Murphy says there’s ‘no doubt’ about Johnny Sexton’s fitness after the out-half returned to full training at Carton House today.

Sexton’s expected to get the nod ahead of Paddy Jackson to start against France in the Six Nations this Saturday.

Full-back Rob Kearney and scrum-half Conor Murray also came through today’s session with no issues.

France centre Mathieu Bastareaud has been ruled out of Saturday’s match at the AVIVA Stadium – due to concussion.

The Toulon player had just returned to the squad in recent days but the French Rugby Federation say he won’t be involved at the weekend following a neurological test.

George North is set to return for Wales against Scotland on Saturday.

The Northampton wing missed Wales’ 21-16 loss to England because of a leg injury, but was able to train fully today.
AVIVA Premiership strugglers Bristol have appointed Alan Solomons as a coaching consultant until the end of the season.

The former Northampton, Edinburgh and Ulster coach will assist current interim boss Mark Tainton – as they look to climb off the bottom of the table.

Tainton will become the club’s chief operations officer next season – with Connacht’s Pat Lam taking over as permanent head coach.

SOCCER

Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian have been left out of Manchester United’s squad ahead of their trip to France for their Europa League clash with St Etienne tomorrow.

A muscle injury had kept the captain Rooney out of United’s last four games but he was expected to travel after training fully today.

Ander Herrera is suspended for the game while Phil Jones is still recovering from a foot injury.

Derby aim to keep their faint Championship play-off hopes alive this evening when they host Burton.

Steve McClaren’s side are eleven points behind sixth placed Sheffield Wednesday – but do have a game in hand.

Damien Duff’s the new head-coach of Shamrock Rovers’ under-15 team.

The Ireland legend will combine his existing coaching duties with Rovers first-team with his role ahead of the start of the underage season in August.

The club say “his vast experience and knowledge of the game will be of immense benefit to the players and coaches that work with him”.

Staff at Premier League side Sunderland are facing redundancies.

Chief executive Martin Bain says it’s after a review of the club’s operations – which he says have “lost focus”.

The squad just returned from New York on a team-bonding trip.

They’re currently bottom of the table.

Owen Coyle’s no longer the manager of Championship strugglers Blackburn.

The club say he’s left by mutual agreement.

His last game in charge was Sunday’s 2-1 FA Cup loss to Manchester United.

Blackburn are second-bottom in the table – three points from safety.
Sutton’s reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw has quit the club – over a row about him eating a pie in the dugout.

The Football Association and Gambling Commission are both investigating the incident – which happened during the non-league side’s FA Cup defeat to Arsenal.

One bookmaker offered odds of 8-to-1 on Shaw doing it on camera.

GAELIC GAMES

A Laois GAA County Board official has told clubs to ‘prepare for war’ against other sports.

Ahead of underage soccer changing from winter to summer seasons, Kieran Leavy says ‘battle lines’ must be drawn to stop young players from choosing other sports over gaelic games.

The assistant treasurer of Laois GAA also believes that if a young player opts to play soccer then they should be told “alright, go but we don’t want you anymore”.

“If clubs don’t draw their battle lines now, they are going to lose a lot of players.

“Kids want to play soccer, rugby and others and they need to be told no. ”

CYCLING

Irish cycling team Aqua Blue Sport has been invited to compete in two classics in April.

They’ll be part of the Liege Bastogne Liege and La Fleche Wallonne.

Liege Bastogne Liege is one of cycling’s five monuments and is often seen as the last race in the spring classics segment of the season.

Known affectionately as The Old Lady, the race was first held in 1892.

TENNIS

Roger Federer won’t be retiring until at least 2019.

The 18-time Grand Slam winner has agreed a three-year contract to compete at the Swiss Indoors in Basel.

The 35-year-old has been considering his future in the game following his victory at the Australian Open in Melbourne last month.

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