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May 3, 2006 3:00 am
England cricket selectors were forced into a rapid rethink on Tuesday as the injury travails that plagued the recent tour of India resurfaced ahead of this season's first Test. They reacted to the mounting injury toll by withdrawing Lancashire seamer Sajid Mahmood from this week's England A match with a view to considering him for a Test debut on May 11 against Sri Lanka at Lord's.
This followed news that fast bowler James Anderson was likely to miss both the Test and one-day series against Sri Lanka because of a stress fracture of the lower back. Anderson's county colleague Mahmood was due to turn out for the A team against Sri Lanka in a four-day match at Worcester, which starts tomorrow, but has been pulled out of that match for tactical reasons as England weigh their options following the injuries to Steve Harmison, Anderson and Simon Jones. Mahmood will instead play for his county in their Liverpool Victoria Championship match against Kent at Old Trafford, starting today.
With Hampshire seamer Chris Tremlett, who was also due to play for England A, sidelined with an ankle injury, the selectors have called up Leicestershire fast bowler Stuart Broad and Gloucestershire seamer Jon Lewis to fill in for the A team.
David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, said: ''Following the injuries to Simon Jones and James Anderson, the selectors have decided to withdraw Sajid Mahmood from the Sri Lanka tour match for tactical reasons as he is in contention to play in next week's first Test.
''Liam Plunkett is also under consideration for the first Test, but he will play for England A as Durham do not have a four-day game this week and this will provide him with further match practice."
England were already resigned to being without Harmison (shin), captain Michael Vaughan (knee) and left-arm spinner Ashley Giles (hernia) even before news filtered through last night about Jones and Anderson. Jones is awaiting the results of a scan of the knee on which he had surgery after returning early from India. He broke down while playing for Glamorgan on Monday.
Mahmood's tactical withdrawal would indicate he is favourite to make up the attack in the Test alongside Plunkett, Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff.
*England football manager Sven-Göran Eriksson can wait until the eve of his team's first World Cup game to replace injured striker Wayne Rooney, Fifa has confirmed. Rooney, who broke a bone in his right foot playing for Manchester United at Chelsea on Saturday, is expected to be out of action for at least six weeks. That coincides with the start of the World Cup in Germany on June 9.
Although Eriksson has to name his squad by May 15, he can name a replacement for Rooney any time before England's first group game against Paraguay on June 10, said Fifa, the game's world governing body.
Sir Alex Ferguson, United manager, has played down the chances of his player being fit to appear in any of the tournament. Rooney himself says he is being positive about his chances of playing in the World Cup. Rooney told MUTV: ''I'll be coming in for treatment every day and trying to give myself the best possible chance. You've just got to get on with it and be positive. That's what I'm trying to do at the moment and I'll be trying to get myself fit as soon as possible.''
Meanwhile Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp says he wants to negotiate a new deal for next season with club owners Milan Mandaric, the chairman, and Alexandre Gaydamak. Redknapp has yet to be told officially if the victory at Wigan last Saturday that ensured the club's Premiership survival was enough to secure him a new agreement to replace the one that expires at the end of the season.
Mandaric has said this would be a formality, but uncertainty over the chairman's future means the decision could rest with Franco-Russian co-owner Gaydamak, who paid £15m for a 50 per cent stake in January.
Redknapp fears that Gaydamak may want a new manager despite Pompey's escape from relegation, and wants to know whether he will buy Mandaric's remaining stake in the club - as is thought to be an option in their joint-ownership agreement.
And if the manager can be assured of the new investor's backing, he will want to know if money is available to bid for the permanent signature of on-loan midfielder Andres D'Alessandro from Wolfsburg, who value him at £6m, and for other players. Redknapp spent almost £12m on nine signings in January but has removed expensive misfits such as Zvonimir Vukic, John Viafara, Gregory Vignal and Dario Silva from the payroll.
Southampton have completed the £2m signing of striker Grzegorz Rasiak from Tottenham. The 27-year-old Polish international joined Saints on loan in February with an agreement to make the move permanent when the transfer window reopened, and has now signed a four-year deal at St Mary's.
West Ham striker Dean Ashton will learn more today about his prospectsof playing in the FA Cup final on May 13. The £7.25m forward will have a scanon the hamstring injury he sustained in Monday's win at West Bromwich Albion.
*Graeme Dott's first world championship snooker victory has pushed the Scot into the top six of the WPBSA rankings for the 2006-2007 campaign. Dott, 28, has piled more misery on his final opponent Peter Ebdon by climbing above him into sixth position - a rise of seven places - after his 18-14 win in the early hours on Monday.
Ebdon remains in seventh spot but he will be pleased after previously failing to reach even a quarter-final in any ranking event this season. Back at number one after an eight-year absence is Stephen Hendry, despite his first-round exit at the hands of Nigel Bond at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. Hendry has not lifted a title in 2005-06 but the seven-times world champion has been a consistent performer during the past season.
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