x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Mears hopes for England chance

Burnley defender Tyrone Mears returns to former club West Ham today hoping he will soon be eligible for England.

Burnley defender Tyrone Mears returns to former club West Ham today hoping he will soon be eligible for England. The 26-year-old right-back has been tipped for a surprise international call by his club manager Owen Coyle, but he is currently unavailable due to erroneously playing for Jamaica nine months ago. Mears was chosen to play against Nigeria at Loftus Road in February by former England international John Barnes despite having no links to the Caribbean country. Mears was under the impression his estranged father was from Jamaica, but has since discovered possible links to Sierra Leone. Now he is attempting to have his international cap rescinded in the outside chance he catches Fabio Capello's eye in World Cup year. "The problem is I am registered with Fifa as a Jamaican player, which shouldn't have happened," said Mears. "I don't qualify for Jamaica. You have to hold a passport to play for a country. Because it was a friendly I was told it wouldn't count and I didn't think it was a big deal but apparently it is. West Ham, beaten just once in their last five games, have not lost to Burnley for 31 years, when they were 3-2 losers at Turf Moor in September 1978. West Ham v Burnley, KO 7pm, Showsports 4

Mark Hughes could lose his Manchester City captain Kolo Toure and striker Emmanuel Adebayor as early as Boxing Day on African Nations Cup duty, meaning that the pair could miss as many as 10 matches. The tournament is to be played in Angola, kicking off on January 10 with the final scheduled for January 31 and, though the Ivory Coast defender Toure and Togo striker Adebayor were always likely to play, Fifa rules stipulate that countries have the right to call up their players two weeks beforehand. City - along with rivals Chelsea and Arsenal - could be hit hard by that news with their players missing as many as 10 games during the tournament. Should Hughes lose his African players at the earliest occasion, it would mean they miss the Boxing Day clash with Stoke, the trip to Wolves two days later and then the FA Cup third round on January 3. He said: "A lot of other leagues have breaks for the festive period that allow their players to meet up at the earlier time. We have a crucial period of the season coming up and hopefully that will be taken into account." Record signing Robinho is set to make his first City appearance for three months in today's home encounter with Hull. Manchester City v Hull, KO 7pm, Showsports 2

Courting controversy boosts El-Hadji Diouf's performance, according to Stoke's Salif Diao. Diouf's Senegalese compatriot and former Liverpool teammate said the Blackburn striker needs adversity in order to thrive on the pitch. "All the people who know him personally know that he is a really smashing lad, but he is one of those - he likes the adversity," said Diao. "For him to perform, he needs to maybe get everyone against him. That's why it's better to leave him how he is." Diao - once hailed by former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier as the "new Patrick Vieira" - has shown his worth under Tony Pulis since joining Stoke in 2007. "I am from Africa and we like this family kind of atmosphere around us," he said. "There are a few Africans at the club and always we have felt welcomed." Blackburn v Stoke, KO 7pm, Showsports Extra

The Bolton manager Gary Megson wants his attacking players to turn their training ground form into match-day results. Megson, who takes his team to Fulham today, has seen them fall into the relegation zone after taking three points from five games. He said: "It is like a golfer, you can knock six foot putts in until the cows come home in practice. It is entirely different doing it to win the Open. It is the same in football. In training the finishing is invariably good. But it is entirely different in a game when there are thousands of people about and that real intensity that surrounds Premier League football. "Does it come down to mental strength? That's a big part of football, as it is in other sports." Bolton have not won at Fulham for 17 years. Fulham v Bolton, KO 7pm, Shows Comedy Extra

The return of their former manager Steve Bruce with Sunderland today does not put any more pressure on Wigan, according to their manager Roberto Martinez. Having been embarrassed 9-1 at Tottenham last weekend, Martinez is looking for a response from his players, but added that Bruce's first game at the DW Stadium since leaving in the summer is not worrying him. "It is such an important game for us after what happened on Sunday that it doesn't need any extra spice," said the Spaniard. "Steve comes back to a club where he had great success, but from our point of view it is all about our reaction and our performance. It's been too hurtful a week to distract any attention and it doesn't need any add-ons. We are so focused on our reaction." Wigan v Sunderland, KO 7pm, Shows Series Extra sports@thenational.ae