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The fortunes of the FA Cup, after years of decline, appear to be taking an upturn. Following the giantkilling exploits of Oldham and the embarrassment of holders Manchester United by Exeter in the third round, Monday's fourth-round draw threw up the prospect of more drama.

Oldham were rewarded for their 1-0 defeat of Manchester City with a home draw against another north-west Premiership side, Bolton Wanderers. Sam Allardyce's team have been as inconsistent as Kevin Keegan's City this season, and League One Oldham will be fired up for a repeat performance at Boundary Park. Assuming that Sir Alex Ferguson deigns to put out something resembling a first team in the replay against Exeter and United triumph, they will play Premiership rivals Middlesbrough at Old Trafford, pitting Ferguson against his former assistant Steve McLaren.

There are three certain all-Premiership clashes, with leaders Chelsea drawn at home to Birmingham and bottom club West Bromwich Albion entertaining rejuvenated Tottenham. But the pick of the three is Southampton against Portsmouth, for amid the many local rivalries that enliven English football, few are quite as bitter as that between these two. Adding fuel to this combustible tie is the presence of Harry Redknapp, who transferred his wily managerial skills from Pompey to Southampton only six weeks ago amid some rancour with his former employer.

Arsenal have, on paper, a relatively easy home draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers, surprisingly struggling in the Championship, while Everton face a sterner task against promotion contenders Sunderland at Goodison Park. Liverpool, provided they can overcome Burnley in their postponed third-round game, face another potential banana skin against League One club Bournemouth at Anfield. League Two leaders Yeovil will also hope to continue the club's giant-killing tradition in their tie at Charlton Athletic, and former FA Cup winners Coventry will aim to make Newcastle United's disappointing season even worse at St James' Park.

* Gary Megson, the former West Bromwich Albion manager, was confirmed as the new team boss of Nottingham Forest, the former European Cup winners in danger of a humiliating relegation from the Championship.

* England batsman Mark Butcher's tour to South Africa is over, ended by the wrist injury that ruled him out of the third Test. "The wrist has just got worse and worse. I had a net [session] this morning but I was unable to wield the bat or hit anything except tennis balls," said Butcher, who was plagued by injuries last year.

He will be replaced by Warwickshire's Ian Bell for the rest of the tour. Butcher's place was taken by Robert Key for the third Test in Cape Town, which England lost by 196 runs, and it is expected that he will retain his place for the fourth in Johannesburg that begins on Thursday. Butcher played in the first two Tests of the series, scoring 79 in the first innings in the first Test in Port Elizabeth but failed in both innings during the second Test at Durban.

A World XI beat an Asian XI by 112 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and raised £6m for the tsunami relief fund. Australia captain Ricky Ponting scored 115 and New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns smashed 69 off 47 balls as the World XI reached 344 for 8.

* The International Cricket Council looks set to leave Lord's in spite of a last-ditch intervention on Monday by Richard Caborn, the sports minister, writes David Owen. Caborn met Ehsan Mani, the council's president, but their discussion appeared to have done little to reduce the strong likelihood that the governing body will soon confirm a move to new premises, probably in Dubai. It would be the fifth international sports federation to leave Britain in recent years.

* Lance Armstrong has confirmed he will try to win a seventh Tour de France, but it may not be until 2006. Armstrong, 33, who became the first man to win six Tours last summer, will decide in April if he will race in this year's event.

At the launch of his team's new sponsorship deal with the Discovery Channel, he indicated that the broadcaster will require him to take part in either this year's race or the 2006 event.

* Paula Radcliffe has remained loyal to the London Marathon, the event where she set the world record, and will take part in this year's event. There had been speculation that Radcliffe would opt to run in the Boston Marathon, which takes place a day after London's April 17 race, since this is the only one of the big city marathons - Chicago, London and New York are the others - that Radcliffe has not won. But she said yesterday: "Boston is definitely a race I want to do at some point, but London is very special to me."

Radcliffe made her marathon debut in London three years ago and set the world record of two hours, 15 minutes, 25 seconds in winning the 2003 event. She will have a good opportunity to cut that time in April, for the London course is expected to be about 45 seconds quicker for its 25th edition after the removal of a cobbled section by Tower Bridge.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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