Thursday Evening Sports Update

SOCCER

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech starts in goal against his former side Rennes in the Europa League last-16 first leg this evening.

With Alexandre Lacazette suspended, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang leads the line.

And there’s another start for Mesut Ozil, with kick off at 5.55

While at 8, Chelsea entertain Dynamo Kiev.

Mick McCarthy has urged Patrick Bamford to put the accelorator to the process of him declaring for the Republic of Ireland.

The returning manager says the Leeds striker is still keen to play for Ireland, but hasn’t declared in time to be considered for the Euro 2020 qualifiers with Gibraltar and Georgia.

Luton’s 20-goal striker James Collins earns a maiden call-up, as does Newport’s FA Cup hero Padraig Amond.

Sunderland’s on-loan defender Jimmy Dunne is the other uncapped outfield player included, along with goalkeeping trio Caoimhín Kellher, Kieran O’Hara and Mark Travers

Mick McCarthy’s quest to bring goals to his Republic of Ireland squad have seen him mine League One and League Two for new call-ups.

There are recalls for James McCarthy, Aiden McGeady and Glenn Whelan.

GOLF

A run of four birdies in his last six holes has moved Shane Lowry to 3-under par for his opening round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

He’s playing in a group with Graeme McDowell today, and the Portrush man is currently 2-under.

Rory McIlroy has just teed off at Bay Hill.

Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello is the early leader on 7-under par.

Gavin Moynihan is 4-shots off the lead on 1-under par following the opening round of the Qatar Masters.

Justin Walters and Adri Arnaus are the joint leaders in Doha on 5-under.

RACING

Road To Respect is to run in the Ryanair Chase at next week’s Cheltenham Festival, and not the Gold Cup.

The Gigginstown horse was fourth in last-year’s Gold Cup behind Native River, and had been among the favourite’s for this year’s renewal.

But trainer Noel Meade says Road To Respect would be better suited to the shorter-distance Ryanair Chase.

Jockey Nico de Boinville has elected to ride Angels Breath over stablemate Mister Fisher in next week’s Supreme Novice’s Hurdle.

Angels Breath is currently second-favourite behind Al Dancer for next Tuesday’s big race at Cheltenham.