Thursday Morning Sports Update

SOCCER

Shane Long is a major doubt for the Republic of Ireland’s Nations League clash with Denmark on Saturday.

The Southampton striker is still nursing an ankle injury and won’t train until tomorrow.


It could leave Martin O’Neill with a selection headache as the other four strikers in the squad have just six caps and one goal between them.

Aston Villa’s Scott Hogan is among the forwards in contention to start against the Danes and he’s ready to make an impression.

While Wales star Gareth Bale’s chances of playing against Ireland next Tuesday are now rated ’50/50′.

The Real Madrid forward will sit out tonight’s friendly against Spain.

The Republic of Ireland under-21s need a win this afternoon to keep alive their hopes of European Championship qualification.

Noel King’s side need to beat Israel in Akko if they’re to go into their final match with a prospect of overhauling Norway in the playoff spot.

Kick off this afternoon is at 3.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Las Vegas-based lawyer says an encounter with a woman – who is accusing the Juventus forward of rape – was consensual.

Peter Christiansen was responding to a civil case filed by the woman, which relates to the alleged incident in 2009.

On the night in question, the woman claims she was raped at a Las Vegas hotel by Ronaldo, something he vehemently denies.

Last month, Der Spiegel published what they claim is a confidentially agreement pertaining to the night signed by Ronaldo.

But Mr Christiansen suggests that significant portions of the settlement papers were altered and / or completely fabricated.

Dean Smith is the new manager at Aston Villa.

He leaves Brentford after nearly three-years in charge of the Griffin Park club.

Smith’s assistant at Villa Park will be former Chelsea and Aston Villa captain John Terry.


YOUTH OLYMPICS

Niamh Coyne has won Ireland’s first medal at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.

The Dubliner claimed silver in the women’s 100-metre breaststroke.

Having led for most of the race, Mona McSharry missed out on bronze by just 2-hundredths of a second.


GOLF

Paul Dunne will begin the defence of his British Masters title this morning in the company of a potential new World Number One.

The Greystones golfer is grouped with Justin Rose and Matthew Fitzpatrick for the opening two rounds at Walton Heath.

Rose will take over from Dustin Johnson at the top of the world’s golf rankings with a top-two finish this week.

They’ve just started their first round.

It’s a case of Ryder Cup captains past and potentially future, with Thomas Bjorn playing alongside two of his vice-captains in Paris – Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood.

Shane Lowry’s among the later starters, and will go out at lunchtime with Tom Lewis and Paul Waring.

RUGBY

Ulster will be without Mattie Rea for their opening two matches in the European Champions Cup.

The flanker was last night suspended for four weeks as a result of his aerial challenge on Connacht’s Cian Kelleher last Friday.

Rea was originally handed an eight-week suspension, but saw that halved by a disciplinary panel.

CYCLING

Sam Bennett wears the leader’s turqoise jersey for today’s third stage of the Tour of Turkey.

The Irish rider holds a six-second lead following his stage win into Antalya yesterday.

Today the peloton make the 137-kilometre trek to Marmaris.