Lunchtime Sports Update

SOCCER

Martin O’Neill has been dealt a blow ahead of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales with the news that Shane Duffy will miss the game through injury.

Brighton manager Chris Hughton has confirmed Duffy suffered a broken metatarsal in his side’s 3-nil defeat at Nottingham Forest last weekend.

Hughton says the defender will be out for at least six weeks as a result.

Duffy has started Ireland’s last three qualifiers, forming a centre-back partnership with Ciaran Clark which conceded just one goal.

He’s also played a big part in Brighton’s promotion push, and Hughton says it’s a blow for the club

Ireland face Wales in the Aviva on March 24th.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists reports of a training ground argument involving Alexis Sanchez and his team-mates are “completely false”.

It’s been claimed the forward walked out of a session – which led to a row with some other players.

Some papers suggest that’s why Sanchez was dropped from the starting line-up in Saturday’s Premier League defeat at Liverpool.

The Chilean has also posted on Instagram, seemingly reaffirming his commitnent to the club.

Chelsea can re-establish their ten point advantage at the top of the Premier League tonight.

They’re at West Ham – one of only four clubs who’ve beaten the leaders this season, albeit in the League Cup.

Boss Antonio Conte doesn’t want the same thing to happen again

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic knows Premier League leaders Chelsea can be beaten going into tonight’s game.

They’re one of only four clubs who’ve won against the pacesetters this season – as they knocked them out of the League Cup in October.

Bilic says that’ll give his side belief

Kick-off is at 8.

Chelsea’s plans for a new stadium have been given a green light by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Proposals for a 500-million-pound redevelopment at the current Stamford Bridge site have been approved – with the capacity to increase to 60-thousand.

An elevated walkway will be built from the ground to the nearby tube station.

Mr Khan says he’s confident the stadium will be a “jewel in London’s sporting crown”.

RUGBY

It’s one in and one out for Leinster today ahead of next season.

Veteran lock Mike McCarthy will leave for French side Narbonne on a two-year deal.

Joining the Blues in the summer will be 24-year old back, James Lowe.

He’ll arrive from the Chiefs in his native New Zealand.

HORSE RACING

Disko, who won the big Group One Novices Chase at Leopardstown in February, will lead trainer Noel Meade’s team at the Cheltenham Festival next week.

Meade expects to taker about half a dozen horses, several of which will compete in the meeting’s Group One showpieces.

He’s been updating Mike Vince with his latest plans

Willie Mullins plans to give Yorkhill another schooling session after the JLT Chase favourite raised eyebrows with a mixed round of jumping after racing at Leopardstown on Sunday. Yorkhill, winner of both his chase starts, had jumped markedly left when scoring at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown – and that was again noticeable over the first two fences in this latest workout.

Last year’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle winner, a best-priced 7-4 for the JLT, tackled eight fences with stablemates Blazer (Paul Townend) and Arbre De Vie (Patrick Mullins), and Mullins said: “He did go to the left at the first couple of fences and Ruby [Walsh] said he was very big at the first fence down the back and got a fright. He was big again at the next but from there on Ruby said he was electric when the other two horses quickened up. He came to join them travelling very easily. I was quite happy with him but I’d imagine we’ll school him again before Cheltenham, where he’ll run in the JLT.”

Djakadam, who will bid to give Ireland’s champion trainer a first Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup win on Friday week, delighted connections when Walsh schooled him with Royal Caviar (Townend).

Mullins said: “He was very good and I couldn’t be happier with him.

HOCKEY

An 18 man Ireland squad has been named for Round 2 of the World League which starts in Belfast on Saturday.

Youngsters Matthew Nelson and Sean Murray are included in a new look squad, alongside more experienced names like Ronan Gormley and Eugene Magee.

Ireland get their tournament underway against Ukraine on Saturday afternoon before further group games against Austria and Italy.

BOXING

Tony Bellew is thinking about retiring from boxing – after his surprise win over David Haye.

The WBC cruiserweight world champion, who’s 34, stepped up to heavyweight to beat Haye, who’s had surgery after rupturing his Achilles during the flight.

Bellew broke his hand early on – and says he doesn’t know how many more times he can put his body and family though the sport.

But he says retiring is just one option for him.