Power ranking every 2018/19 Championship club’s stadium – from worst to best

16 Jul

There’s nothing like going to watch the football, but these days there is a lot to consider if you are going to make a day of it.

Transport, ticket prices, pie selection, pub geography and half-time toilet queues are factors we took into consideration when collating this definitive ranking of Championship grounds.

See if you agree with us, and leave your comments below…

Fans enjoy a close proximity to the pitch in Reading

24. Madejski Stadium – Reading

Sorry Reading – your home of 20 years is just a bit dull. The uninspiring location off the M4 is as bland as the atmosphere on match day. It’s a nice modern stadium, but when it’s the away fans making most of the noise in a 24,161-seater stadium, you know you’re in trouble.

Let’s be honest, we all still think of it as the Reebok

23. Macron Stadium – Bolton Wanderers

Once known as the Reebok Stadium, Bolton have played at Macron since 1997 when they left Burnden Park for the 28,723-capacity stadium. The downside of their bigger ground is that it is six miles out of Bolton city centre – meaning it is a trek for fans coming from both near and far.

You get a good view from just about anywhere at Deepdale

22. Deepdale – Preston North End

Preston claim their ground is the oldest continuously used football stadium in the world. Built on what was once Deepdale Farm, the Lancashire outfit have played there since 1878. However, despite its 23,404 capacity, it is often the away fans making the most noise – it can be rather quiet.

21. DW Stadium – Wigan Athletic

Home to Wigan since 1999, the DW has developed something of a reputation for being more hospitable to away fans than its own as attendances dwindle. Wigan have suffered since they were relegated to the Championship in 2013 and then to League One in 2015. They reversed their fortunes this season and return to the Championship, but the Latics need their fans to show up and be the 12th man they have lacked for so long.

Portman Road has an old-school charm about it

20. Portman Road – Ipswich Town

That Portman Road is just 450 yards from Ipswich railway station is probably its best feature – you can escape quickly. The stadium is traditional, with away fans sectioned between the corner and halfway line. But too often, the 30,300-seater ground is not full enough to make its ideal location worth a visit.

New York Stadium: small but mighty

19. New York Stadium – Rotherham United

Close to the city centre, this has been Rotherham’s home since 2012. A small stadium – its capacity is only 12,021 – if Rotherham continue on their upwards trajectory, they may will need to expand some time soon.

Ewood Park is a labore of arte

18. Ewood Park – Blackburn Rovers

Ewood Park is one of those stadiums where you get more excited about seeing the visiting team than your own, after a dismal few years for the Rovers. Hopefully, this quiet stadium will get louder and more exciting this season, with Blackburn’s return to the Championship.

Looks a trillion dollars

17. St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium – Birmingham City

It’s hard to know which joke to make first about St Andrew’s’ new name, so we’ll let you do that for yourself. But this ground, Birmingham’s home since 1906, is a delight on a big derby day clash, where 30,015 supporters cram to make a loud, raucous atmosphere.

Which way to the pub?

16. Griffin Park – Brentford

We wanted to put Brentford higher up – they are the only English league football ground to have a pub on each corner – but unfortunately, that is the only thing going for them. This tiny 12,300-seat stadium, the club’s home since 1904, is simply not big enough for a club of Brentford’s size and calibre. It won’t be long before they have a new home, though.

Carrow Road: a safe bet

15. Carrow Road – Norwich City

Purpose-built in just 82 days, Carrow Road has stood the test of time. Norwich have played there since 1935, and the Regency Security, Barclay, Geoffrey Watling City and South Stands hold 27,244 fans between them. A middle-of-the-ground stadium for a middle-of-the-table team.

It’s always nice by the river

14. Riverside Stadium – Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough’s 23-year-old stadium may be set to expand, as the club has provisional planning permission to grow by 8,000 seats to 42,000. Of the four stands, the South is the loudest, but in recent seasons the volume has been dialled down somewhat.

The Den would be number 1 if it always looked like this

13. The Den – Millwall

This 20,100-capacity stadium is a solid Championship ground, but is rather dilapidated after 24 years hosting Millwall in Bermondsey, London. Now, a dispute with Lewisham council means there is a good chance Millwall will be relocating in the near future, the controversy compromising the atmosphere in the stands.

Hullywood Bowl

12. KCOM Stadium – Hull City

This bowl-shaped stadium does not feel like a natural football haven – Tigers’ rugby is also played here – but its modern design and sweeping roof, it makes a nice change from the usual grounds with minimal character.

An electric atmosphere

11. Hillsborough Stadium – Sheffield Wednesday

Two miles further out of Sheffield than their United rivals, Hillsborough is bigger than Bramall Lane with 39,752 seats. Home since 1899 and a Euro 96 host, most people know this stadium by name from the 1989 disaster where 96 Liverpool fans tragically died. But the heartbreaking legacy of that terrible day is part and parcel of a club which respects and honours its past.

A day of sunshine in the west

10. Ashton Gate – Bristol City

Home since 1904, this ground underwent a massive redevelopment in 2016, unveiling the 11,000-seater Lansdown Stand in August that year. The 27,000-capacity stadium is shared with Bristol Bears, who were promoted to rugby’s top tier at the end of last season. A sporting haven, this stadium is steeped in Bristolian culture and is a landmark of the city.

It’s flaming good at Villa Park

9. Villa Park – Aston Villa

A big stadium for a club with big ambition, Villa have played here since 1897. The iconic ground, built on the site of a Victorian amusement park, has hosted 55 FA Cup semi-finals, more than any other stadium. Of the Trinity Road, North, Doug Ellis and Holte End stands, the latter is particularly treasured. It holds a whopping 13,500 supporters and is the loudest area of the stadium, especially on a derby day.

Never a thorny atmosphere at West Brom

8. The Hawthorns – West Bromwich Albion

It only took four months for construction workers to build The Hawthorns, which seats 26,850, 118 years ago. With an altitude of 551 feet, West Brom boast the highest ground out of all 92 English league teams. In the West Stand, Brummie Road, Smethwick End and East Stand you can catch some of the country’s most thrilling derbies.

Loftus Road: fit for a Queen

7. Loftus Road – Queens Park Rangers

Fans are 50/50 about this west London institution. The stands are wedged tightly together, meaning home and away fans are squeezed next to each other and are closer to the pitch than at most stadiums. Some don’t like it, but we do – even if it could do with scrubbing up a bit.

Liberty is a hotbed of emotions

6. Liberty Stadium – Swansea City

Home since 2005, Liberty is the third-biggest stadium in Wales – and one of the loudest. A relatively small capacity of 21,088 belies its volume, which has increased since they left Vetch Field 13 years ago. A statue of Ivor Allchurch, the club’s record goalscorer, stands outside the stadium, befitting of a side proud of their history.

Stoke’s stadium sends fans Potty

5. bet365 – Stoke City

Since Stoke completed expansion works on their ground last year, it has the bet365 Stadium has become one of the most exciting grounds in the league – not least because it was at the centre of an ultimately unsuccessful relegation battle at the end of last season. Still, with Potters fans indignant about their Championship fate, you can be sure they will show you an entertaining time.

Tempers flare at City Ground

4. City Ground – Nottingham Forest

Home to the Reds since 1898, the iconic ground on the banks of the River Trent was last redeveloped in 1994 – but its ‘rough around the edges’ appearance is part of its charm. Steeped in history, it can hold 30,445 fans at capacity and was one of the host stadiums for the Euro 96 tournament. Situated just 300 yards away from Meadow Lane, home of League Two rivals Notts County, the grounds are the closest professional football stadiums in England.

At Bramall Lane it’s all fun and games

3. Bramall Lane – Sheffield United

The ‘home of football’ is named after the Bramall family, who were file and graver manufacturers in the 19th century. Home to the Blades since 1889, it is the oldest major stadium in the world to still be hosting professional association football matches. It is one of only two grounds to have hosted England internationals, an England cricket test match and an FA Cup final – the other is the Oval cricket ground. Regularly filled with almost 33,000 fans, it is a special ground which is always singing, win or lose.

The Rams get this place rammed

2. Pride Park – Derby County

A huge improvement from Derby’s old Baseball Ground, Pride Park is certainly a home to be proud of. After the post-Hillsborough disaster, the Taylor Report ordered English football stadiums to become totally seated, meaning Derby would have to cut their capacity to 17,500 fans. They moved to 33,600-capacity Pride Park in 1997, but have never managed to sell it out – the record attendance is 33,378 in a Premier League match against Liverpool in March 2000. But, it still boasts one of the best atmospheres in the league.

Elland Road Leeds our rankings

1. Elland Road – Leeds United

One of the most famous grounds in football, Elland Road is historic, iconic and downright intimidating for travelling teams. Its East Stand can hold 17,000 fans and is the focal point of the famous ground. The ground may be slightly weathered in places, but that’s part of its rugged, old-school charm. There are plans for a 2020 expansion under new owner Andrea Radrizzani, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it? The stadium hosted its first England game since 2002 earlier this summer as the Three Lions completed their World Cup prep with a 2-0 demolition of Costa Rica. A sell-out crowd of 36,104 fans created an electric atmosphere that reminded the nation why Elland Road is such a special place.

Iran vs Spain: Live commentary, stream, kick-off time and confirmed teams for 2018 World Cup clash

20 Jun

After claiming only their second ever win at a World Cup finals by beating Morocco, Iran will bid to cause an even bigger shock when they face Spain on Wednesday night.

Carlos Queiroz’s side go into the match top of Group B thanks to a late own goal by Aziz Bouhaddouz which secured them victory in their opening game.

Iran celebrate their win over Morocco

Spain come into the match on the back of a dramatic 3-3 draw with Portugal, which saw Cristiano Ronaldo hit a hat-trick.

David de Gea is under pressure having received heavy criticism for a shocking error in the match.

When is Iran v Spain?

The game will take place on Wednesday, June 20th and will kick off at 7pm UK time.

It will be held in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Tatarstan. It is the home of Russian Premier League side Rubin Kazan and has a capacity of 45,000.

How can I listen?

Click here to listen to our live commentary of the action as it happens on talkSPORT.

Spain celebrate a Diego Costa goal against Portugal

Who are the key players?

There are a number of goalscorers in Spain’s squad, but finding a reliable striker has been hard since the 2014 World Cup. Alvaro Morata was left out of the squad, meaning Diego Costa is the man tasked with leading the line for La Roja in Russia. He didn’t disappoint in the opening game, working tirelessly and scoring twice in the thrilling 3-3 draw with Spain and, having initially struggled at international level, has finally established himself as an exteremely important player for Spain.

Sardar Azmoun is perhaps the best-known member of Iran’s squad, but AZ Alkmaar’s winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh is likely to be the difference maker. Azmoun has had a disappointing domestic season with Rubin Kazan, but Jahanbakhsh was the star of the Dutch Eredivisie in 2017/18. The 24-year-old top scored in the division with 21 goals in 33 games, while only two players also finished with more than his 12 assists. Though he can play anywhere along the front line, Jahanbakhsh’s strongest position is on the right wing and he is a devilishly tricky opponent with excellent playmaking and shooting abilities. He played 85 minutes in the win over Morocco.

What’s the team news?

Iran: Beiranvand, Rezaeian, Hosseini, Pouraliganji, Haji Safi, Ebrahimi, Taremi, Ezatolahi, Amiri, Ansarifard, Azmoun

Substitutes: Torabi, Mohammadi, Shojaei, Mazaheri, Khanzadeh, Ghoddos, Montazeri, Ghoochannejhad, Jahanbakhsh, Dejagah, Abedzadeh

Spain: De Gea, Carvajal, Ramos, Pique, Alba, Busquests, Iniesta, Vazquez, Isco, Silva, Costa

Substitutes: Nacho, Saul, Koke, Rodrigo, Thiago Alcantara, Odriozola, Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Monreal, Iago Aspas, Asensio, Reina

talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.

Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia: Live commentary, stream, kick-off time, and confirmed teams for 2018 World Cup match

20 Jun

Saudi Arabia will hope to produce a much improved performance after they were thrashed in the opening match of the tournament.

The second-lowest ranked team at the 2018 World Cup were humiliated 5-0 by the lowest ranked team, hosts Russia, in their first Group A clash.

Saudi Arabia will hope to put their first match behind them

The nightmare start to their time in Russia continued when the team plane caught fire in mid air as they travelled to Roston on Monday.

Uruguay beat Egypt 1-0 in their opening game and, following the Pharaohs‘ defeat to Russia on Tuesday night, will book their place in the knockout stages should they emerge victorious against Saudi Arabia.

When is Saudi Arabia v Uruguay?

The match will take place on Wednesday, June 20th and will kick off at 4pm UK time.

The match will be held at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-on-Don, which has a capacity of 45,000.

How can I listen?

Click here to listen to our live commentary of the action as it happens on talkSPORT .

Luis Suarez had a terrible game against Egypt

Who are the key players?

Saudi Arabia ace Mohammad Al-Sahlawi scored 16 goals in just 14 matches to finish the AFC qualification campaign as joint-top scorer.

However, there are suggestions he is no more than a flat-track bully, as 14 of those goals came in the weaker first group stage rather than the tougher second group stage.

For Uruguay, Luis Suarez is exceptional and will likely be on penalty duty but has struggled for form and fitness of late and Edinson Cavani just edges out the Barcelona man.

The 31-year-old Paris Saint-Germain striker has struck 42 times in 102 Uruguay appearances, and he banged them in for fun at club level in 2017/18 with 39 goals in 47 games.

What’s the team news?

Luis Suarez will win his 100th cap for Uruguay when he faces Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and will look for a vastly improved performance, having struggled in the win over Egypt.

Uruguay: Muslera, Varela, Gimenez, Godin, Caceres, Sanchez, Vecino, Bentancur, Rodriguez, Suarez, Cavani. Subs: Campana, Nandez, De Arrascaeta, Stuani, Gaston Silva, Torreira, Maxi Pereira, Laxalt, Gomez, Coates, Urreta, Martin Silva.

Saudi Arabia: Al-Owais, Al-Breik, Osama Hawsawi, Al Bulaihi, Al-Shahrani, Bahbir, Al-Faraj, Otayf, Al-Jassam, Al Dawsari, Al-Muwallad. Subs: Al-Muaiouf, Al-Harbi, Omar Hawsawi, Al-Shehri, Al-Sahlawi, Al-Khaibri, Kanno, Al-Khaibari, Al-Moqahwi, Asiri, Motaz Hawsawi, Al-Mosailem.

Referee: Clement Turpin (France)

talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.

Portugal vs Morocco: Live commentary, stream, kick off time, and confirmed team news for 2018 World Cup match

20 Jun

Portugal will look to Cristiano Ronaldo to produce another scintillating World Cup performance when they face Morocco in Group B at Wednesday lunchtime.

The Real Madrid superstar was on fire in his team’s opening clash, firing a hat-trick in the thrilling 3-3 draw with Spain.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick against Spain on Friday

Morocco are fighting to keep their World Cup dream alive, however, and will be no pushovers.

They lost their opening game against Iran 1-0 after an own goal from substitute Aziz Bouhaddouz in injury time.

When is Portugal v Morocco?

The match will take place on Wednesday, June 20th and will kick off at 1pm UK time.

The match will be at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, which hosted the opening ceremony and has a capacity of 81,000.

How can I listen?

Click here to listen to our live commentary of the action as it happens on talkSPORT.

Morocco lost their opening match against Iran

Who are the key players?

No one but Cristiano Ronaldo could be named Portugal’s key player, even though the nation’s greatest ever international success – winning the Euro 2016 final – occurred with him on the pitch for just 25 minutes.

Santos’ cautious approach means Ronaldo must take on a majority of Selecao’s attacking play, and goals will be hard to come by if he is not playing.

He netted 15 times in qualifying, almost 50 per cent of Portugal’s entire goal haul, and scored all three goals in the dramatic draw against Spain in their opening game of the World Cup.

For Morocco, Netherlands-born Hakim Ziyech caused a stir when he declared he would represent Morocco despite playing for the Dutch at every youth level from Under-19 up.

The playmaker made the decision in 2015, and he has since won 19 caps and scored an impressive eight goals in that time frame.

The 25-year-old is one of the best attacking players in the Eredivise, and the 15 assists he recorded in 2017/18 made him the league’s top creator for the season.

Formerly of Heerenveen then Twente, Ziyech has played for Ajax since the summer of 2016, but his form has seen him linked with a move to one of Europe’s bigger leagues.

Ziyech has not always got on well with Morocco boss Renard, and he declared he would never play for the coach again after a bust-up concerning selection for the AFCON.

However, the two patched up their relationship and Ziyech is a shoo-in to start in Russia, though he is generally selected out wide rather than in the central position he plays for Ajax.

What’s the team news?

Portugal XI: Rui Patricio; Cedric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro; Moutinho, William Carvalho, Joao Mario; Bernardo Silva, Ronaldo, Guedes
Substitutes: To follow…
Morocco XI: El Kajoui; Hakimi, Da Costa, Benatia, Dirar; Ziyech, El Ahmadi, Belhanda, Boussoufa, N. Ambrabat; Boutaib
Substitutes: To follow…

talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.

Russia vs Egypt: Listen live, commentary, stream, kick-off time and confirmed teams for 2018 World Cup match

19 Jun

Hosts Russia will take on Egypt in the second round of Group A fixtures after thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 in their opening game of the World Cup.

Egypt are coming into the match on the back of a disappointing loss to Uruguay, which saw Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah left on the bench.

Liverpool ace Mo Salah is expected to play tomorrow’s match

Salah picked up a shoulder injury during the Champions League final last month in Kiev, but returns to the starting line-up for this crunch clash.

When is Russia v Egypt?

This match will take place on Tuesday, 19th of June.

It will kick off at 7pm UK time.

The game will be played at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.

How can I listen?

Click here to listen to our live commentary of the action as it happens on talkSPORT.

The Russian team before they beat Saudi Arabia 5-0

Who are the key players?

Alan Dzagoez will now miss the remainder of the group stage because of a hamstring injury he picked up during Russia’s 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia, meaning Aleksandr Golovin becomes ever more pivotal for the host nation. He starred in their opening day win over Saudi Arabia, scoring one goal and creating two other goals, and all of their attacking play is likely to go through the CSKA Moscow playmaker.

For Egypt could it be anyone but Mohamed Salah? The Liverpool star has scored for fun last season and was named PFA Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year for his brilliant campaign. Opposition defenders are terrified of his pace and ability to get in shooting positions. The only concern is whether he will be 100 per cent fit, having missed the defeat to Uruguay due to the shoulder injury he suffered in the Champions League final.

What is the team news?

Russia: Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevic, Cheryshev, Gazinskii, Zobnin, Golovin, Zhirkov, Samedov, Dzyuba

Egypt: Elshenawy, Ali Gabr, Hegazi, Fathi, Abdelshafy, Tarek Hamed, Elneny, Abdalla, Trezeguet, Marwan, Salah

talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.

Poland vs Senegal: Live commentary, stream, kick off time and confirmed team news for 2018 World Cup match

19 Jun

Poland will take on Senegal in their opening World Cup match on Tuesday night in the Spartak Stadium.

The Group H clash will take place in the same stadium as the Argentina and Iceland game – which saw Lionel Messi miss a penalty.

8. Klopp was key in the development of Robert Lewandowski, with the forward's performances at the Westfalenstadion helping him earn a move to Bayern Munich
Robert Lewandowski is expected to make a big impact for Poland

Poland are set to come into the competition feeling confident after beating Lithuania 4-0 in a friendly match earlier this month.

Senegal last took to the field in a friendly clash against South Korea and beat the Group F team 2-1.

When is Poland v Senegal?

The match will take place on Tuesday, June 19th.

The game will kick off at 4pm.

It will take place in the Spartak Stadium.

How can I listen live?

Click here to listen to our live commentary of the action on talkSPORT 2.

Sadio Mane will be key for Senegal at the World Cup

Who are the key players?

For Poland, Robert Lewandowski. When you have him in your side then you’ve got a chance. He scored 16 goals in 10 qualifying games and was responsible for 64 per cent of Poland’s goals.

According to manager Adam Nawalka, the 27-year-old is “the best striker in the world,” which is hard to disagree with.

During qualifying he also became his country’s top scoring player when he surpassed Wlodzimierz Lubanski’s previous record of 48. At the time of writing Lewandowski has scored 52 times in 93 games.

For Senegal, Sadio Mane comes into the World Cup on the back of a 20-goal season with Liverpool, ten of which came in the Champions League. He’s in great form and could be a star in Russia.

What’s the team news?

Poland: Szczesny, Pazdan, Cionek, Piszczek, Krychowiak, Grosicki, Rybus, Blaszczykowski, Zielinski, Milik, Lewandowski

Senegal: Ndiaye, Koulibaly, Sabaly, Wague, Gana, Sane, Ndiaye, Diouf, Mane, Ismaila, Niang

talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.

England legend Teddy Sheringham says Harry Kane is better than former Three Lions captain Alan Shearer

18 Jun

Teddy Sheringham thinks Harry Kane is better than former England captain Alan Shearer.

Sheringham, who formed a great brilliant partnership at international level with Shearer, believes the Spurs sharp shooter already has “more to his game” than his old teammate.

25. Teddy Sheringham (Tottenham Hotspur) scored 22 goals in 41 appearances in 1992/93, recording a goals per game ratio of 0.54
Teddy Sheringham thinks England skipper Harry Kane is better than Alan Shearer

He made the comments as Kane prepares to lead England out at the 2018 World Cup against Tunisia in Group G’s opening clash on Monday night, live on talkSPORT.

Shearer is regarded as one of the nation’s greatest ever strikers, having fired 30 goals in 63 appearances for England and a record 260 goals in Premier League over the course of his prolific career.

But Sheringham said: “Kane has more to his game than Alan.

“He can hold the ball up, bring others into the game and can shoot with both feet, which Shearer wasn’t best at.”

Newcastle United - Alan Shearer
Sheringham thinks Kane has more to his game than Alan Shearer
Harry Kane is set to lead England against Tunisia

Sheringham added: “Harry looks like he can score from anywhere.”

The former Tottenham and Manchester United striker believes Kane is currently the best number nine the world, and warns Spurs may find it difficult to keep hold of the 24-year-old despite the fact he recently signed a new long-term contract.

In an interview with BetStars, Sheringham added: “He could go anywhere in the world he chooses if he were to leave tomorrow. He’s that good.

“He’s the best number nine in the world. He’s a player you’ve got to keep but it will be very difficult to do so.”

talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.

England captain Harry Kane is excited to showcase his talent against Tunisia in opening 2018 World Cup match

18 Jun

Harry Kane says he can’t wait to show the world what he’s got as England prepare to take on Tunisia at the Volgograd Arena on Monday night.

The Three Lions skipper said he was looking forward to showcasing his talent in England’s opening match against Nabil Maâloul’s men in Group G.

World Cup news: New England captain Harry Kane dismisses claims he is too sensitive to lead Three Lions to glory in Russia
Harry Kane performs his media duties as England captain

Kane said: “The last few years I’ve improved and now I’m here, and I can’t wait to get out there and show the world what I’ve got.

“Obviously all the fans are back home watching and we want to make them proud.”

The striker hopes to be awarded the Golden Boot when the tournament wraps up next month, joking that Cristiano Ronaldo had put him “under pressure” after scoring three goals against Spain on Friday.

He said: “I’ve got a lot of scoring trophies in my career. I’d like to be sitting here with a big gold one in a few weeks.

“He [Ronaldo] has put me under a little bit of pressure for sure. He’s a fantastic player and had a fantastic game but as always for me it’s about concentrating on myself and the team.

“Hopefully I can score a hat-trick tomorrow and we’ll be level, but it’s not something I’ll think about much until hopefully towards the end of the tournament.”

 

1. Harry Kane (Tottenham) scored 29 goals in 30 appearances in the 2016/17 season, recording a goals per game ratio of 0.96
The England skipper said he also hoped to win the golden boot

Kane was confirmed as England’s captain ahead of the tournament and is relishing his role as team leader.

“I am enjoying it for sure,” he said. “For me, not a lot changes. I am still the same person, the same team-mate.

“Maybe I’ve been scoring a few more goals in training. I am proud to be England captain and can’t wait to get going.”

He added: “The team are all very close. We’ve done a lot of stuff for the fans so they can see what we’ve been up to and that’s not always been the case. It’s about doing it on the pitch first and foremost.”

England have only ever met Tunisia twice and the teams haven’t faced each other in two decades. Read our full preview here.

talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.

Nottingham Forest make Premier League ambitions clear with double Benfica signing

15 Jun

Nottingham Forest’s signing of two Benfica players makes clear the Reds’ ambitions for next season.

The signing of 21-year-old Joao Carvalho for £13.2m is a club record, and they have also secured teammate Diogo Goncalves on a season-long loan.

 

Portugal Under-21 star Carvalho is an attack-minded midfielder

Attacking midfielder Carvalho, who made eight appearances for the Portuguese Primeira Liga side last season including in the Champions League, has signed a five-year contract with Forest.

And they have an option to buy 21-year-old winger Goncalves at the end of his loan spell.

 

Goncalves made his Champions League debut against Manchester United last season

Forest confirmed the arrival of the Portugal Under-21 duo after they passed medicals on Thursday.

They finished 17th in the Championship last season, but splashing this kind of money suggests Reds boss Evangelos Marinakis has lofty ambitions.

Carvalho shook off suggestions of pressure coming with his hefty price tag.

“For me, the fee only means more responsibility but I am not scared,” he said.

“I know that it is important that a club in this division has paid such a big amount for a transfer.

“My only responsibility is to live up to this expectation.

“I came here not to play in the second division, but to play well and to help the club get into the top division – the level that I really want to play at and the level this club wants to play at.

“The focus has to be game by game, on winning each game.”

 

Former England doctor warns Liverpool ace Mo Salah of injury threat in Egypt’s World Cup opener against Uruguay

15 Jun

The former England team doctor has warned Mo Salah must be wary of Uruguay’s defenders aggravating his shoulder injury, should he come on as a substitute in Egypt’s World Cup opener this afternoon.

The Liverpool ace dislocated his left shoulder less than a month ago in the Champions League final during a tussle with Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos.

 

Salah suffers shoulder injury in Champions League final

 

Salah landed heavily and left the field in tears, while Egypt fans across the globe reacted angrily to what was seen as a judo-style move by Ramos – which went unpunished by the referee.

And it is now clear the 26-year-old striker is not yet at full fitness, with Egypt coach Héctor Cúper starting him on the bench for the Group A clash at Ekaterinburg Arena in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

 

Salah joins Egypt players for a pre-match inspection at the Ekaterinburg Arena

 

“I think he was always going to play, no matter what,” said former England doctor Ian Beasley, who worked with the senior men’s team from 2009 to 2016.

“We don’t know if it was a proper dislocation or a strain, but with a month’s rehab he should be fine.

“The real question is, how much training has he missed because of this injury? That will be the deciding factor.

“If you’re a forward, you spend half your life holding off defenders.

“You’re pushing defenders off and waiting for the ball to arrive, which you don’t always see on the telly.

“That’s when his injury could have an impact.”

 

Uruguay’s Diego Godin is a formidable presence

 

Starting for Uruguay, who finished fourth in 2010, is the commanding Atlético Madrid centre-back Diego Godín, who told a news conference yesterday that they were not worried by the striker’s potential return.

“We have been preparing a long time ago to play the World Cup and it does not depend on a player,” he said.

“[Salah] is a big, decisive player and we prepare ourselves in the same way whether he is [available] or not.”