While Barkley will give Everton an extra dimension going forward, it is at the back where Martinez had problems – even before the Stones setback. Full-back Seamus Coleman has not played since mid-September and centre-back Sylvain Distin has missed the last three matches with injury. “John will need surgery. We expect him to be out for probably the next 10 to 14 weeks depending on how everything goes,” the Spaniard told evertonfc.com. “Obviously, it’s a little bit of a setback because you don’t want to lose any players, but in John’s case we were very worried in the moment that it happened because those injuries can become a little bit difficult to treat. “But this one is going to be straightforward and we are already counting down the days for him to come back and we’ll make sure he comes back stronger and ready for the final and most important part of the season.” Distin is likely to return for the visit of Aston Villa when the league campaign resumes a week on Saturday, but doubts remain over Coleman and midfielder James McCarthy (thigh), while forward Kevin Mirallas (hamstring) is out for a few more weeks and striker Arouna Kone has still to feature in a matchday squad after a knee operation last October. “Sylvain needed a bit of a rest. He is fully fit, has trained really well and is ready to fight for a place in the team,” Martinez added. “It’s too early to tell whether Coleman and McCarthy can play against Villa. We are going to assess them day by day. “Kevin has got a typical sprinting injury. We expect him to be out for a few weeks as well. “Kevin does not need surgery, just conservative treatment. We hope to have him fully fit soon.” Midfielder Bryan Oviedo pulled out of Costa Rica’s squad this week in order to have a screw removed from the leg he broke in January, but Martinez expects him to be available sooner rather than later. “Bryan has reacted well to the procedure,” he said. “In a couple of days, he will be working towards selection again.” Press Association “On Monday we expect Ross, with the green light from the medical department, to join the group,” Martinez said. “Now it’s a matter of getting him match fitness and getting him up to speed. “Ross has been working really well and I don’t expect any setbacks. I expect Ross to have a real clear path to get his match fitness back. “One of Ross’ biggest strengths is his physicality and how strong he is sometimes helps in terms of getting his match fitness. “But he has been out for a while and we need to give him the right work now to make sure he is at his very best. “From Monday I want him to be part of it and in probably a couple of weeks we should be able to see Ross in the squad. “His desire and hunger to be in the team is contagious, and that is something I want to have with the group. “He’ll be like a fresh, new player for us.” England international Barkley was sidelined by a knee ligament injury on the eve of the Barclays Premier League season but is now potentially just a fortnight away from making a competitive return. While that is positive news for Toffees boss Roberto Martinez, Stones’ ankle problem – sustained against Manchester United at the weekend – is a significant blow to a defence which, after criticism this campaign, cannot afford to lose someone of the 20-year-old’s quality for such a length of time. Everton midfielder Ross Barkley will resume first-team training next week, but his return has been offset considerably by the loss of defender John Stones for more than three months.
Munster ended a tight European Champions Cup encounter on their terms as Saracens succumbed to the red tide at Thomond Park. The England international made no such mistake with his second attempt, this time from the right, after Billy Vunipola had carried four times in a promising attacking spell. Sarries drew confidence from a late Keatley penalty miss and Alex Goode and Chris Ashton combined for a welcome midfield break early on the resumption. Ashton grew in influence as the black shirts bludgeoned forward, however Munster relieved the pressure with a scrum penalty and some textbook tackling. Gill’s 51st-minute sin-binning – awarded for recklessly tipping CJ Stander over in an attempt to clear out a ruck – allowed Munster to hit back and Keatley booted them back in front. A weaving run from Conway kept the hosts on the front foot, and Saracens could not hold out. Television match official Eric Gauzins denied Conway what seemed a legitimate try as he squeezed over in the right corner past David Strettle. It was a stay of execution for Sarries, though, as Munster used the resulting penalty to power forward from a close-in lineout for replacement prop Kilcoyne to crash over. Keatley narrowly missed the difficult conversion. Half-backs Keatley and Murray increased their influence with some pinpoint kicking, the former clipping over a drop goal from inside the 22 to stretch the lead to 11 points. Kilcoyne won a scrum penalty which should have led to another three points but Keatley fluffed his lines, ending the night with a frustrating two-from-six return from the tee. Press Association Dave Kilcoyne came off the bench to score a decisive 60th-minute try in the 14-3 Munster victory while Saracens replacement prop Rhys Gill was in the sin-bin. Despite a disappointing night with the boot, Ian Keatley contributed two penalties and a drop goal with 15 minutes left which proved to be the final score of a bruising Anglo-Irish battle. The expectant home crowd had to wait until the 26th minute for Keatley’s opening penalty which the returning Owen Farrell cancelled out in a first half that had no clean line-breaks. The Munster fly-half made it 6-3 in the 53rd minute following Gill’s yellow card, and Kilcoyne touch downed from an advancing maul against 14-man Sarries. With man-of-the-match Conor Murray marshaling the hosts from scrum-half, Munster sealed their second Pool 1 win thanks to Keatley’s second drop goal of the tournament. This fascinating round two tie remained scoreless in an edgy opening quarter, Marcelo Bosch sending a long range penalty narrowly wide and Keatley’s 11th-minute effort from closer in hitting the post. The onrushing Andrew Conway knocked on as he attempted to gather the loose ball from Keatley’s missed kick and Saracens survived thanks to a solid follow-up scrum. The Limerick drizzle made for a greasy ball and the aerial route was understandably favoured by both sides. Munster had a rare sniff of the try-line when Murray wormed his way through after a maul was held up, but busy winger Conway was quickly closed down for a relieving Sarries penalty. Keatley rewarded his pack for a ground-gaining maul by slotting the first points close to the half hour mark, a deserved lead given Munster’s territorial dominance. The visitors should have been level following some forceful driving from their own pack, but Farrell’s lack of recent game-time was evident when he hooked a kickable penalty wide.
A tight contest remained in the balance until the final whistle, with keepers Pantilimon and Tim Howard both producing important saves before the goals started to go in, although James McCarthy’s injury-time clearance denied Wes Brown a last-gasp winner. Sunderland were more than value for a point, but Everton, who had midfielder Gareth Barry carried off with what looked like a serious injury early in the first half, would have felt aggrieved if they had left empty-handed after a full-blooded encounter. The Wearside club paid their own Remembrance Day tribute before kick-off by inviting more than 2,000 military personnel, representatives of veterans’ groups and families of those killed on active service to the game, and the locals among them would have been delighted with much of what they saw in the opening 45 minutes. Gus Poyet’s men looked rejuvenated by their 3-1 victory at Crystal Palace on Monday and, while Everton, a club with loftier ambitions for the season, enjoyed more than their fair share of possession before the break, the Black Cats created just as promising many openings as the visitors. They might have taken the lead twice within the opening six minutes in similar circumstances, with Wickham glancing a header from a Larsson corner just wide of the far post and then powering another on to the roof of the net from the same source. Everton, for whom Ross Barkley tested Pantilimon with a shot from distance seconds after Wickham’s second near miss, were forced to make an early change when Barry left the field on a stretcher after being caught by Jordi Gomez in a seemingly innocuous challenge. Gomez, who was booked for the tackle with Barry, was fortunate to survive after going to ground on the edge of the area as he lunged towards Phil Jagielka. Clear-cut chances were few and far between until the half entered its final 15 minutes, with play switching rapidly from end to end. The full-back scuffed his 76th-minute spot-kick under home goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon following Connor Wickham’s illegal challenge on Seamus Coleman. It came nine minutes after Sebastian Larsson had fired the Black Cats ahead with a superb free-kick, his first league strike from a set-piece since December 2011. Wickham and his team-mates, as well as the home fans among a crowd of 43,476 at the Stadium of Light, were incensed at referee Lee Mason’s decision to award a penalty, although replays suggested they had little cause to be. Leighton Baines snatched a point for Everton as Sunderland were denied back-to-back Barclays Premier League victories by a late penalty. Sylvain Distin distinguished himself with a vital clearance after Gomez had played in full-back Anthony Reveillere down the left to cross, but holding midfielder Liam Bridcutt had to produce a fine block to deny Barkley after the England man had raced half the length of the pitch and exchanged passes with Aiden McGeady before going for goal. But Sunderland produced their best opening of the half seconds later when Howard blocked Gomez’s shot with his legs after another incisive attack. Everton returned from the break in determined mood and went close twice within seconds when first Pantilimon claimed Barkley’s curling shot and then denied Romelu Lukaku one on one after he had run on to Bridcutt’s woefully under-hit back pass. The Romanian had to be even more resilient with 56 minutes gone when, after Wickham had been robbed by McCarthy on halfway, the Republic of Ireland international combined with Samuel Eto’o to find Lukaku on the left. The Belgian stepped inside full-back Santiago Vergini to blast in a shot which Pantilimon somehow managed to turn on to a post. Sunderland’s keeper was grateful to see Lukaku’s header drop nicely for him seven minutes later when the striker connected with Baines’ cross after substitute Darron Gibson had got the better of Vergini in a 50-50 challenge. But it was opposite number Howard who was picking the ball out of his net with 67 minutes played when, after Baines had been penalised for a foul on substitute Will Buckley, Larsson curled a fine free-kick over the wall and into the far corner. However, the lead last just nine minutes. Coleman was felled inside the area by Wickham and Baines remained calm as the home side remonstrated with Mason before slotting past Pantilimon from the spot, although in less convincing fashion than that to which his team-mates have become accustomed. Brown was denied an injury-time winner when McCarthy hacked his header from Bridcutt’s cross off the line with Howard beaten as the visitors managed to hang on. Press Association
Everton forward Kevin Mirallas (ankle) is pushing to return for the Boxing Day clash with Stoke in the Barclays Premier League. James McCarthy (hamstring) could also be back in action during the Christmas programme, which continues with a trip to Newcastle on Sunday. His fellow midfielders Leon Osman (ankle) and Darron Gibson (knee) are not yet ready to return while defender Tony Hibbert faces a fortnight out after suffering a knock in training. “There is a strange relationship between performances and results that at the moment we don’t seem to get, but that is what we need to focus on. “We are going into the second half of the season with a huge amount of points to fight for. “I know for a fact we have got the quality and determination in the group, and the character, to have a really strong second half of the season.” Stoke boss Mark Hughes is “reasonably pleased” with the way things stand for his side heading into Christmas, despite his frustration over their ongoing struggle for consistency this season. Seventeen games into what is Hughes’ second term in charge, the Potters – 13th in the table with 19 points – are still yet to record back-to-back top-flight wins during the campaign. Hughes – who guided Stoke to ninth last season – said of the lack of consistency: “It has been frustrating, because we have been able to have very good performances and results against top teams, but then we haven’t backed it up. “But it is difficult. It is not easy for a team like ourselves to win consecutive games. “Only probably the top six teams have the capacity to do that regularly – the rest of us have just got to take performances and results when they appear, and make sure we don’t make too many mistakes. “I think at the moment it is a little bit difficult to get those back-to-back results in particular – we are in a run of top-class opposition. “But we are reasonably pleased with where we are. We are not a million miles away from where we thought we’d be given the run of games we have had.” Stoke are looking to bounce back from Monday’s home loss to leaders Chelsea when they take on Everton, before hosting West Brom two days later and then Manchester United on January 1. Hughes hopes a neck problem that forced Peter Crouch off in the Chelsea contest will not rule the Potters striker out of the game at Goodison Park. It remains to be seen whether midfielder Stephen Ireland, who missed Monday’s match due to a knee injury, will be fit enough to be involved against the Toffees. Press Association Manager Roberto Martinez is prepared to make changes as he seeks a winning formula – but in personnel and not style. The Toffees have lacked consistency and are 13 points down on the figure they had at the same stage last season. They have won just one of their last five in the league and suffered a 3-0 defeat at Southampton last Saturday. Some critics have called for Martinez to modify his tactics, perhaps to scrap more, but the Spaniard has no intention of altering his flowing, pass-based approach. Asked if he might consider a change, Martinez said: “No, never. What we need to do is get better – it is not about style. “Our style is very clear at Everton. We are a football club that really enjoys playing in a certain manner and we need to master it. That is where the work is. “The competition for places is huge. When you get a disappointing result you always consider giving any member of the group that is doing good work on a daily basis an opportunity on a match day, and that is healthy. “But I am not concerned in terms of performances. I don’t think we are far away from where we were last season. I would say we are even better in many aspects of our performances.
Connor Wickham has insisted his contractual situation was never a concern after committing his future to Sunderland. Press Association Wickham said: “The speculation never bothered me as much as what was made of it. People don’t see what goes on behind closed doors, and it was never in doubt. “I took criticism for how long it took, but that was the process. At least it’s settled now and everyone knows what’s happening. I’ve signed the contract and that’s the end of that. “Over a month, I sat with the gaffer a couple of times and he explained to me what he wanted me to do. We had a good chat for half-an-hour, 45 minutes, and we got a lot out in the open and we understood each other. “Now I know what he wants from me, and that’s made it a lot easier. He said to me way before the negotiations even started what he wanted me to do for this season. I was happy to do it then, I’m happy to do it now. “The contract was just one of those things that came up between then and now.” For much of the current campaign, Wickham has been asked to fill a wide left midfield berth with the club having failed in its attempts to clinch a summer deal for Liverpool’s Fabio Borini, who excelled in that role during last season’s loan spell on Wearside. There is little doubt he would prefer to line up through the middle – that responsibility is currently the preserve of Scotland international Steven Fletcher with Poyet largely operating a 4-1-4-1 system – but he is happy to do a job for the Uruguayan and the team. Wickham said: “Obviously I want to play as high up the pitch as I can, and the role on the left involves some defending, which probably isn’t the strongest bit of my game. The 21-year-old striker signed a new four-and-a half-year deal in December after months of speculation over his future, with head coach Gus Poyet fearing he could lose him for nothing, just as he did with midfielder Jack Colback last summer. However, the England Under-21 international was always confident agreement would be reached to extend his stay at the Stadium of Light. “But the gaffer wants me to do it, so that’s what I’ve got to do. It’s up to me to adapt to the way he wants me to play. “The manager asked me before the start of the season whether I could play on the left. I did it at Ipswich for a whole season and it didn’t seem the same as what it seems now. “Full-backs push on and there is defending to do, but it is the fact that we need to score more goals and get forward in numbers as much as we can.” Poyet has made no secret of his desire to add goals to his squad during this month’s transfer window – Fletcher, Wickham and Jozy Altidore have scored just eight between them so far this season – and that was a failing which might have come back to haunt the Barclays Premier League club once again on Sunday when they edged past by Sky Bet Championship Leeds 1-0, the same scoreline as that which famously separated the clubs in the 1973 final, into the FA Cup fourth round. Returning full-back Patrick van Aanholt’s 33rd-minute strike proved decisive on a day when chances went begging, and the Black Cats very nearly paid a heavy price when Leeds skipper Liam Cooper headed against the post in injury time. Wickham said: “It wasn’t easy, but it’s not going to be against Leeds with the history of the two teams. But we’ll take the win and we’re into the next round. “We did have chances and Pat scored a good goal. But in the second half, we let them get back in the game and they hit the post. We’re happy to take the win though.”
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has been given an extra 24 hours to respond to his Football Association disrepute charge. Press Association Van Gaal was initially told to answer the charge by Monday evening but will now have until 6pm on Tuesday to give his response after the club sought an extension. He has already said he will contest it, telling a press conference last week: “I am very disappointed. For nearly 30 years I have been a trainer, coach or manager and I have never been charged. ”Up to now I don’t think I said something wrong. I said in our press conference the same phrases, because I know in advance that everything is in favour of the underdog. It is always like that.” United booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-0 win over League Two Cambridge in the replay last week. Van Gaal was charged by the governing body for remarks that ”allege and/or imply bias on the part of the match referee and/or bringing the game into disrepute” following comments he made after United’s FA Cup clash with Cambridge. After the 0-0 draw at the Abbey Stadium, the Dutchman said: “You have seen the referee. It’s always the same. Everywhere I have coached these games – and I have coached them also with other clubs – it’s always the same.”
The Jim Bolger-trained Teofilo colt made a winning debut at Naas earlier this month in a race his handler had won with Dawn Approach in 2012 and came forward from that, showing a likeable attitude in the process. Tracking Taexali before taking over around a furlong and a half out, Kevin Manning’s mount was threatened briefly by fellow 15-8 joint-favourite Washington DC but readily asserted for a two-length call at the line. RaceBets make the Godolphin-owned winner 3-1 favourite from 6-1 for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot. Manning said: “He stepped back a furlong in better company and did it will. He’s been giving us the all the right vibes from day one and I don’t think trip is an issue with this horse.” Bolger added: “The trip doesn’t seem to matter to him. It doesn’t matter where you put him in a race or how you train him. He’s unbelievably straightforward and uncomplicated. “If you wouldn’t get excited about him you wouldn’t be alive. “As I said about Dawn Approach at the time, we’ll see where he fits in with the others. We’ll talk it over, but I’d say he’ll go to Royal Ascot. “They didn’t go much pace in Naas, but he was able to cope with it so we were fairly sure he’d cope with five furlongs. I’m sure he’ll stay further whenever he’s asked.” When asked to compare Round Two with other star juveniles he has had in the past, Bolger said: “He’s the quickest one I’ve had. He’s the quickest I’ve had after Polonia (won Prix de l’Abbaye in 1987).” Round Two confirmed himself a top-class prospect with an authoritative success in the Cold Move EBF Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh. Press Association
Heffernan said: “She gave me a nice feel and is taking the right steps. She has a bit of class and hopefully she’s nice.” Ishebayorgrey continued his excellent recent form with a last-gasp win in the Racecourse Of The Year Handicap. Zunera appeared to have stolen a march on the field a furlong out when clear in front, but Colin Keane drove Pat Martin’s 3/1 winner into the lead in the dying strides to score by half a length from Zunera, who dead-heated for second with another fast finisher in Glimmer Of Peace. Martin said: “Colin always felt that he was getting there, and he’s a horse with great resolution. “He has an entry at Bellewstown over five furlongs but I’d say we’ll give him a break now. “He was behaving like a colt in the parade ring but it’s probably more to do with having a good few runs in a short space of time.” Keane completed a double when Toccata Blue got up late to land the Le Bruin Handicap. Ger Lyons’ 10/3 joint-favourite still had a lot to do when fellow market leader Maudlin Magdalen set sail for home, but Keane timed it right as he got up close home to win by half a length. Aidan O’Brien’s regally-bred daughter of Galileo found only one too good on her first outing, but she justified her 2-5 starting price with an excellent effort under Seamie Heffernan, who was happy to kick on at the two -furlong pole. That move put the race to bed, and though newcomer The Yellow Bus emerged out of the trio of chasing runners to take second, she was five and a half lengths down at the line. Minding confirmed the promise of her debut at Leopardstown when returning to the same track to land the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden in commanding style. Press Association
As the Black Cats launch the search for a seventh, Press Association Sport takes a look at the men who have tried, but largely failed, to bring success to the Stadium of Light over the last seven years. RICKY SBRAGIA (December 2008-May 2009) P75 W23 D22 L30 DICK ADVOCAAT (March 2015-October 2015) P19 W4 D6 L9 Press Association Sunderland have employed six permanent managers or head coaches since Roy Keane left the club in December 2008, some of them for not very long at all. P26 W6 D7 L13 STEVE BRUCE (June 2009-November 2011) P98 W29 D27 L42 MARTIN O’NEILL (December 2011-March 2013) P66 W21 D20 L25 PAOLO DI CANIO (March 2013-September 2013) P13 W3 D3 L7 GUS POYET (October 2013-March 2015)
Robert Lewandowski’s 15th goal in 447 minutes of football for club and country secured the home side a 2-1 win to end their Group D campaign in second place behind world champions Germany. Grzegorz Krychowiak had given the Poles a 13th-minute lead at the Narodowy Stadium, but Jonathan Walters’ penalty three minutes later gave Ireland, who had skipper John O’Shea sent off for a second bookable offence in injury time, fresh hope until Lewandowski’s 42nd-minute intervention. The Republic claimed a priceless 1-0 win over world champions Germany on Thursday and blew the race for Euro 2016 qualification wide open before this defeat. Everton full-back Coleman told Sky Sports 1: “We’re all disappointed. After the lads did so brilliantly against Germany we came here full of confidence and it just wasn’t meant to be tonight. “With the confidence of Germany we definitely came here expecting to win. Conceding so early and – I know we went up the other end and scored but – we’re more disappointed with the goals we conceded, but we’ve got to get going again. ” We’ve let ourselves down and fair play to Poland, they got there in the end but we’ve got a big month next month that we have to pick ourselves right back up again. “There were periods throughout the group that we would pick this play-off place, so you have to look at the positives straight away and move on.” Coleman admitted the Republic made a mistake in allowing Bayern Munich forward Lewandowski too much space in the danger zone before he bagged the winner. He added: “A player of that calibre you can’t let him have too much room in the box and he got a little bit too much room and finished it well, but we’re massively disappointed and we want to go again…we have to look at the positives (and take them forward).” Central defender Richard Keogh came close nine minutes from time when he got his head to Aiden McGeady’s cross, but Poland goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski claimed the ball at the second attempt. Seamus Coleman was visibly disappointed as Poland ended the Republic of Ireland’s hopes of automatic qualification for the Euro 2016 finals. Press Association Republic boss Martin O’Neill said of the chance: “I’ve seen it back and and I’m naturally disappointed because I thought Richard probably would have scored and it is disappointing. “We knew that at some stage or another, particularly in the last 15 minutes, that we would get an opportunity to score a goal. “That was it. We didn’t take it. It’s gone but we live to fight another day.” With the defeat and a look towards the play-offs, O’Neill added: “It was always going to be a difficult game for us and here we maybe didn’t have the same energy as we did against Germany and, with the short turnaround away from home, against Poland it was going to be difficult. “Having said that we probably made life difficult for ourselves at times. “I’m saying all of this, we’re still in the….we have a game, we’ve got two games coming up and we can still make it. “(We’re) Just disappointed because the win against Germany gave us a run at it this evening and we weren’t quite able to do it despite putting an awful lot of pressure on Poland, particularly in the second half, it wasn’t to be.”