Thursday Lunchtime Sports Update

SOCCER

There are six uncapped players in Mick McCarthy’s provisional 38-man squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia.

Strikers James Collins and Padraig Amond are both included with Sunderland defender Jimmy Dunne also receiving his first call up.

Maccesfield’s on-loan goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara, Bournemouth’s Mark Travers and Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher are among the group while Glenn Whelan, James McCarthy, Stephen Ward and Aiden McGeady return.

Ciaran Clark, Callum Robinson, Jonathan Walters and Michael Obafemi all miss out through injury.

McCarthy also provided an update on whether Leeds striker Patrick Bamford is going to declare for Ireland

Arsenal boss Unai Emery is confident his side are ready for tonight’s Europa League match against Rennes in France.

The teams meet in the last sixteen as they aim to move a step closer to May’s final in Baku.

Emery knows his team needs to match the ambition of their opponents.

Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri admits he’ll have to make changes to his team for tonight’s Europa League tie with Dynamo Kyiv.

They played seven times in February – which included their League Cup final defeat to Manchester City.

Sarri says it’s been a busy period.

Arsenal welcome Rennes to the Emirates at 5.55 and Chelsea host Dynamo Kiev at 8pm.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard wants to see an end to problems coming from the crowd in Scottish football.

A number of incidents have taken place this season – including a bottle being thrown in the direction of Celtic’s Scott Sinclair when they played Hibernian last weekend.

Gerrard – who takes his team to Hibs tomorrow – says it’s unacceptable.

RUGBY

Former captain Keith Wood says Ireland have no reason to be fearful heading into Sunday’s Six Nations match against France.

‘Les Blues’ arrive to Dublin on the back of a 27-10 win over Scotland in Paris, with coach Jacques Brunel sticking with an unchanged side.

Ireland have had an indifferent campaign so far with a defeat to England and hard-fought victories against Scotland and Italy.

Wood thinks France will draw confidence from their win over Scotland but feels Ireland remain the better side.

Rory McIlroy feels his consistent start to the year has given him the confidence to mount a successful defence of his Arnold Palmer Invitational title.

The Northern Irishman will play alongside Masters champion Patrick Reed and Marc Leishman for today’s opening round at Bay Hill.

McIlroy is happy about where his game is

Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry tee off their first rounds at half-one Irish time this afternoon.

RACING

Champion jockey leader Paul Townend is booked for two rides at Thurles this afternoon.

He’ll partner Tongie in the Urlingford Rated Chase for Pat Fahy and will look to double up on the Willie Mullins-trained Cash Back in the Maiden Hurdle.

Racing gets underway at 2pm and the going is good to yielding.

In the UK, they run in Wincanton from 1.40 – good to soft and soft in places.

Carlisle at 2.20 where it’s soft, heavy in places on the hurdle track and on the chase track it’s heavy and soft in places.

And on the standard tracks at Southwell and Chelmsford City at 3pm and 5.25 respectively.