Thursday Lunchtime Sports Update

SOCCER

Declan Rice is unlikely to be included in the England squad for their upcoming internationals against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

The London-born midfielder has played three games for Ireland, but has declared for the country of his birth.

England manager Gareth Southgate is said to be impressed with the 20 year old’s performances for West Ham this season.

Rice’s request to FIFA for a change of allegiance however, could take around six weeks.

Chelsea will look to bounce back from their Manchester City humiliation by beating Malmo in the Europa League tonight.

The Blues were beaten 6-nil at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, their biggest defeat in 28 years.

Manager Maurizio Sarri is expecting another tough encounter.

Kick off is at 8 o’clock

At the same time Celtic welcome Valencia to Parkhead for the first leg of their last 32 encounter.

Arsenal take on BATE Borisov in Belarus at 5.55.

GOLF

Rory McIlroy resumes his carefully planned build up to the Masters at the Genesis Open in Los Angeles this evening.

The Ulsterman has placed his focus on the far side of the Atlantic in preparation for the first of this year’s majors in April.

He will tee off alongside Tiger Woods and world number four Justin Thomas in a star studded three ball.

Seamus Power is also in field.

RACING

Monalee, who was beaten seven lengths when second to Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase last season, is set to again take on the Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite again this weekend.

They’ll battle it out in the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park on Saturday.

A Grade 1 winner over 2m 5f at Leopardstown last season, the Henry de Bromhead-trained eight-year-old ran second to Kemboy in the Savills Chase on his most recent start.

There is a seven-race card at Clonmel this afternoon with the first going to post at 1.35.

In the UK they run at Kelso, Leicester, Fontwell and Chelmsford.