The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has announced the appointment of Georgia Gibson Henlin as the new Chairperson of the Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel.

Mrs Henlin, formerly Vice Chair, takes on the role of Chairperson in place of Kent Gammon, who resigned.

Catherine Minto has been added to the membership of the Panel and will be the new Vice Chair.

The new appointments take effect from May 15, 2023 until the tenure of the Panel expires in 2025.

Minister Grange has thanked Mr Gammon for his leadership and service to the Independent Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel.

Jim Brown, widely considered the most dominant football player of his era and one of the best running backs of all time, has died. He was 87.

A bruising runner who never missed a game, Brown led the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns and appeared in nine consecutive Pro Bowls. He averaged 104.3 rushing yards per game and remains the only player in league history to average over 100 rushing yards per game for his career.

Brown won the league’s MVP award in 1957, 1958 and 1965. At the time of his retirement in 1966, Brown held the single season rushing record with 1,863 yards and was the career rushing leader with 12, 132 yards. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 in his first year of eligibility.

"Jim Brown was a combination of speed and power like nobody who has ever played the game," former NFL player and coach Dick LeBeau told Sports Illustrated in 2015.

"If he got into the secondary, he was so good at setting you up and then making you miss. You just didn't know if you were going to get a big collision or be grabbing at his shoelaces."

Brown became one of the first pro athletes to parlay his fame into notable off-the-field accomplishments and made the transition to acting while still playing for the Browns.

He stunned the sports world by announcing his retirement prior to the 1966 season at 30 years old. Brown went on to appear in over 30 films, including The Dirty Dozen and Ice Station Zebra as well as the blaxploitation movies Slaughter and Three the Hard Way.

While playing a variety of roles, Brown performed with some of the leading stars of the day. He appeared with Raquel Welch in 100 Rifles and was involved in one of the first interracial love scenes.

Overshadowed by his remarkable NFL career, Brown's college career at Syracuse was equally impressive. He was a consensus first-team All-American and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting in his 1956 senior season after he rushed for 986 yards and 13 touchdowns despite playing only eight games.

Brown, who also excelled in basketball, track and especially lacrosse at Syracuse, was named the greatest college football player of all time by ESPN during a ceremony at the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on January 13, 2020.

Brown was also no stranger to public service. He created the Negro Industrial and Economic Union in the early 1960s to help establish black entrepreneurs and was an activist during the civil rights movement.

He then spent much of his post-NFL career fighting for social justice and change. In 1986 he founded Vital Issues, aimed at teaching life management skills and personal growth techniques to inner-city gang members and prison inmates.

Brown also experienced his share of legal troubles throughout his life and was dogged for years by accusations that he physically abused women.

He was arrested in 1999 following a domestic disturbance with his wife, who accused Brown of making threats towards her. A jury later found Brown guilty of hitting his wife's car with a shovel during the incident. He was fined $1,800 and sentenced to three years' probation and one year of domestic violence counselling.

Brown served as an executive adviser to the Browns from 2005-2010 and was named a special adviser to the team in 2013.

He is survived by his four children, as well as his first wife, Sue Jones, and second wife, Monique.

Frankie Dettori was at his brilliant best as he steered Haskoy to a last-gasp victory in a thrilling renewal of the Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury.

Ralph Beckett’s filly made huge progress during her debut season last term, with an introductory win at Wolverhampton in late July followed by a Listed success in the Galtres Stakes at York in August.

She subsequently stepped up to take on the boys in the following month’s St Leger at Doncaster and passed the post in second behind Eldar Eldarov before being demoted to fourth place by the stewards after causing interference.

With a subsequent appeal unsuccessful, Haskoy was making her first appearance since in Berkshire and was a 5-2 shot to strike Group Three gold.

Dettori was at work in the saddle some way from home, but the daughter of Golden Horn responded to his urgings to keep herself in the fight and got up in the dying strides to beat John and Thady Gosden’s Israr and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Bolshoi Ballet by a short head and a head respectively.

Yibir, the 9-4 favourite on his first outing since winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket last summer, made late gains from the rear to finish fourth.

Beckett said: “She wasn’t stopping at the end of the St Leger. I sort of feel with her pedigree, it is a stamina-laden pedigree, so I would be pretty confident she’d get it. She switched off very well today, considering how fresh she was.

“We will see how we go. I tried to put a tongue strap on her before but she wouldn’t have it – we had to take it off.

“I’m really pleased. The St Leger was frustrating and it was great to get a Group race next to her name.

“It was only her fourth start and she was still a little green today. With a bit of luck, there’ll be more to come.

“She has got quite a round action. Every time she has surprised me. I didn’t think she could win the Galtres, certainly not at three (furlongs) down. I wouldn’t be afraid to try fast ground.”

Haskoy was cut to 10-1 from 16s by Paddy Power for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and Beckett indicated the filly could now take her chance in next month’s two-and-a-half-mile highlight.

He added: “She is a top-class stayer with a turn of foot. She was just backing off them a little bit when she was in behind horses, but that is slightly her way. She’ll come forward for today – she was only just ready for it.

“The Ascot Gold Cup is a big ask for all of them – it is more like a war than a horse race. It is tough for all of them. Some never come back from it. It is a massive ask, but we are more inclined to do it now she has won a Group race.”

Lawrence Shankland scored a second-half winner as Hearts defeated Aberdeen 2-1 at Tynecastle to crank up the heat on their opponents in the battle for third place in the cinch Premiership.

The Dons arrived at Tynecastle boasting a five-point lead over the Jambos and they looked on course to kill off their hosts’ hopes of catching them when Mattie Pollock headed the opening goal just after the half hour.

But a stunning equaliser from Josh Ginnelly and Shankland’s 27th goal of the season turned the game in the Edinburgh side’s favour as they closed the gap to just two points with two matches remaining in the battle for automatic European group-stage qualification next term.

Hearts made two changes to the team that started the 2-2 draw at St Mirren as full-backs James Hill and Andy Halliday dropped to the bench to make way for Nathaniel Atkinson and Alex Cochrane.

There were three alterations to the Aberdeen side that drew 0-0 at home to Hibernian as Jayden Richardson, Connor Barron and Marley Watkins replaced Ryan Duncan, Hayden Coulson and talismanic striker Luis Lopes.

After a relatively low-key start, things started to liven up after the Dons had Jonny Hayes booked for a robust challenge on Yutaro Oda in the 11th minute.

Hearts captain Shankland had the first notable attempt of the match in the 14th minute when he was denied from just inside the box by a save from Kelle Roos.

The Aberdeen keeper had to stand firm two minutes later to keep out a powerful angled strike from Oda after the Japanese attacker nicked the ball off Hayes and got himself clear in the box.

The Dons’ first opportunity came in the 17th minute when Watkins cut inside Kyle Rowles and saw a shot from the edge of the box blocked by Zander Clark.

The hosts continued to look the more threatening side, though, and Shankland fired over from 12 yards after Aberdeen failed to deal with a corner into the box.

The Dons seized the advantage in the 31st minute when Leighton Clarkson’s corner looped beyond Clark and on-loan Watford centre-back Pollock rose to nod home at the back post.

Hearts had a great chance to equalise two minutes later when Ginnelly back-heeled a pass from Barrie McKay into the path of Cochrane, who was bursting into the centre of the box, but the left-back saw his effort brilliantly blocked by Aberdeen defender Liam Scales.

Shankland hooked a shot over from just inside the box and Oda had another ferocious strike beaten away by Roos as Hearts cranked up the pressure.

The visitors were generally struggling to get into dangerous positions, although Pollock threatened again from another set-piece when he headed wide after connecting with Hayes’ free-kick in the 40th minute.

Hearts deservedly drew level in the most poignant and spectacular fashion when Ginnelly unleashed a stunning angled strike into the top corner from 25 yards out at a time when the home support were in the middle of an emotional minute’s applause for Hearts supporter David Stewart, who recently died aged 42. Fireworks were also going off outside the ground as a tribute to the late Jambo the moment the ball hit the net.

Cochrane then fizzed a shot agonisingly wide of the far post as Hearts finished the half on the front foot.

The home side remained in the ascendancy at the start of the second half and they got themselves in front when top scorer Shankland flicked home at the near post after Cochrane ran on to a pass from McKay and crossed from the left.

McKay then curled just past the post after being released on the left by Ginnelly and Shankland scuffed an effort wide as the hosts tried to turn the screw. Despite only holding a slender lead, Hearts were able to see out victory in relatively comfortable fashion.

Tottenham’s disappointing campaign took another turn for the worse after Bryan Mbeumo’s second-half brace earned Brentford a fine 3-1 win at their London rivals.

Harry Kane’s early opener gave Spurs the perfect start in their quest to stay in the hunt for Europa League football, but the visitors turned the tables with an impressive display after the break.

Mbeumo grabbed a quickfire brace to help fill the void of Ivan Toney, who on Thursday received an eight-month ban from all football activities from the FA for betting breaches.

Yoane Wissa then sealed the victory late on for Thomas Frank’s side with Spurs suffering a 14th defeat of the Premier League season and leaving the pitch to boos after another match with more chants for chairman Daniel Levy to leave the club.

Tottenham’s loss at Aston Villa last weekend had added to the glum mood around club, but the sun was shining for this final home fixture of the season and Ryan Mason rung the changes.

Attackers Arnaut Danjuma and Dejan Kulusevski earned recalls while the fit-again Yves Bissouma made his first start since January with Spurs’ acting head coach reverting to the 4-2-3-1 formation he used in 2021.

Chairman Levy used his programme notes to acknowledge the season struggles but promised to bring “on-pitch success” after a chaotic campaign.

One of Levy’s many key decisions this summer – alongside hiring a new head coach and managing director of football – is to try and convince Kane to commit his long-term future to Spurs.

After eight minutes Tottenham’s vice-captain provided yet another reminder of his importance.

Oliver Skipp, another academy graduate, won a free-kick around 25-yards out and Kulusevski teed up Kane to curl over the wall and beyond David Raya for his 30th goal in all competitions.

It was the perfect start for the hosts and Son Heung-min was the next to go close but Raya denied him after Kane’s pass.

The strong opening period by Tottenham was not enough to prevent the first round of ‘Levy out’ chants from the South Stand with 23 minutes played to mark his number of years at the club.

A second goal for the hosts should have followed immediately after but Emerson Royal’s header was brilliantly cleared off the line by Rico Henry after good work by Kulusevski and Son.

Mathias Jensen side-footed over for Brentford minutes later but Spurs remained in the ascendancy and Danjuma headed wide before Ben Mee thwarted Son with a vital block.

Kulusevski, impressive in the number 10 role, ended the half with a firm near-post effort that Raya pushed over to ensure it stayed 1-0 at the break.

Bees boss Frank had seen enough and introduced Mikkel Damsgaard for the second half, which paid dividends straight away.

It was Damsgaard who fed the ball into Yoane Wissa and he passed into the path of Mbeumo, who cut inside from the right and curled into the bottom corner to level in the 50th minute.

While Kane blazed over after another Kulusevski through ball minutes later, Brentford had their tales up now and grabbed a second with 62 on the clock.

Aaron Hickey played a superb ball down the right and Mbeumo raced away and dribbled into the area before side-footing into the bottom corner for his ninth goal of the campaign.

More chants for chairman Levy to leave the club followed but only after Lucas Moura had been introduced for his farewell appearance.

Mason turned to Pedro Porro and Richarlison next with the latter having half-hearted penalty appeals waved away before Wissa wrapped up the points.

Shandon Baptise robbed the ball off Skipp and Mbeumo teed up Wissa, who curled home for his seventh goal this season.

There was still time for nine minutes of stoppage-time and Raya to produce two outstanding saves to deny Richarlison before the full-time whistle was met with boos before chants urging Kane to stay amid uncertainty over his long-term future.

Julie Camacho looks set to send Shaquille to Royal Ascot for the Commonwealth Cup after a decisive all-the-way win in the Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury.

James Doyle’s mount was completing a four-timer after a couple of novice wins last year and a soft-ground success in a decent handicap at Newmarket to open his three-year-old campaign.

Shaquille was clearly fresh and well, having almost dispatched his rider on the chute from the parade ring to the track and bounced out in the six-furlong contest.

He did not see another horse, with odds-on Noble Style restrained in the early part of the race and Desert Cop, who tracked the leader all the way, fending off the reminder to take second.

It was a wonder that an emotional Camacho even saw the winner, she explained: “I’ve only just arrived. We have had a terrible journey down here.

“It means an awful lot, especially since we’ve had such a rough trip down. It was bit hectic. They shut the A34 and we ended up in Oxford, reversing up streets. It should have taken four hours and we left at 8.15am.

“Newbury has never been a lucky track for us. It is very competitive, but we have managed to have winners at other tracks.

“When you are so far wrong in the ratings, you wonder if you should be here, but he showed he does deserve to be.

“He did it well and he’s a homebred, so it means a bit more.”

She added: “He has taken a while to pull him up. At Newmarket he did everything wrong and still managed to win. He must have some engine to do what he did at Newmarket. It wasn’t the plan to make all, but if nothing wanted to go on, there was no point in fighting him.

“We will go home and think about Ascot, but I think the plan will be to go there.”

Terri Harper’s first defence of her WBA light-middleweight title is off after challenger Cecilia Braekhus pulled out on the morning of the fight because of illness.

Harper, who beat fellow Briton Hannah Rankin in September last year to become world champion again, was set to take on Braekhus on the undercard of Chantelle Cameron-Katie Taylor in Dublin on Saturday night.

But the withdrawal of Braekhus means Harper will instead fight next weekend against an opponent to be confirmed on the undercard of Mauricio Lara-Leigh Wood II in Manchester, according to Matchroom.

Former undisputed world welterweight champion Braekhus said in a video message on Twitter: “I’ve just woken up this morning with flu – headache, fever, ear, nose, throat, the whole thing.

“I felt great yesterday at the weigh-in. I’m just heartbroken, gutted for Terri Harper of course. Sorry to all my fans. I still want to thank Matchroom and Terri for giving me this chance to fight her.

“I hope we can come back and do this real soon.”

The Boston Celtics are not dead and buried despite going 2-0 down to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals on Friday, insists star forward Jayson Tatum.

Four-time All-Star Tatum posted team-high figures of 34 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists as the Celtics started Game 2 strongly at TD Garden, but it was not enough.

Jimmy Butler's 27 points helped the Heat rally to claim a 111-105 victory, with a game-ending 24-9 run from the visitors leaving the Celtics facing an uphill task to seal consecutive NBA Finals appearances.

Boston now approach back-to-back road games requiring a win to keep the series alive, but Tatum retains confidence in their ability to turn things around.

"It's tough. It's a challenge," Tatum said after Friday's loss. "They came in and won two games. They played well, you have to give them credit. 

"But we're not dead or anything. We've got a great opportunity. 

"I still have the utmost confidence. Everybody has the utmost confidence. We've just got to get ready for Game 3."

Grant Williams attracted criticism for his part in the Heat's fightback, after Butler said a heated fourth-quarter exchange with the Celtics forward provided him with additional motivation late on.

Addressing the incident, Williams said: "I think he said something and I just responded. I'm a competitor and I'm going to battle. 

"He got the best of me tonight, and at the end of the day it's out of respect, because I'm not going to run away from it. 

"You either come back before you die or you come back and get a win, and I'm not willing to die in this finals. I'm ready to get a win. 

"I'm ready to come back and come into Game 3 with a better mentality, and I know this team is as well.

"We have a real, real decision to make, are we going to come back and really set the tone for the rest of this year and really make a statement? 

"Or are we going to come out and lay down? I don't think this team is built for laying down."

Miami's Kaseya Center will play host to Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Tuesday respectively, with the Heat needing just two further wins to avenge last year's 4-3 Conference Finals defeat to Boston. 

Tahiyra is “more likely than not” to take her chance in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas on Sunday week, trainer Dermot Weld has confirmed.

The daughter of Siyouni won each of her two starts as a juvenile last season, supplementing a debut victory at the Galway Festival with a Group One success in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.

Weld left it late before eventually committing to a run in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month and after being sent off a hot favourite, she was narrowly beaten by Saeed bin Suroor’s Mawj, with the pair drawing a long way clear of the chasing pack.

With connections responsible for a second contender for the Irish Guineas in recent Group Three runner-up Tarawa, Weld was initially hesitant to commit Tahiyra to the Curragh Classic – but speaking at Leopardstown on Friday evening, he revealed he is leaning towards running the Rowley Mile runner-up.

“We’ll make a decision next week, the same with Tarawa as well. It’s more likely than not, at this stage, that Tahiyra will run in the Irish 1,000 Guineas,” said the Rosewell House handler.

“The final decision will be made the middle of next week.”

Reflecting on Newmarket Tahiyra’s Newmarket performance, he added: “She ran a super race, they are two very good fillies who drew seven and a half lengths clear of the rest.

“She was carried a little bit across the track as well but full marks to the winner, she’s a very good filly. On the day she had the fitness and on the day she was slightly the better of the two fillies.”

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has issued a promise to supporters that the summer months will be spent trying to bring “on-pitch success” to the club.

Spurs have endured a difficult campaign with boss Antonio Conte departing in March, before Fabio Paratici resigned from his managing director of football position last month following a worldwide ban for allegations of false accounting during his time at Juventus.

The club’s trophy drought has also extended into a 15th consecutive season and any hope of another top-four finish has long gone with unrest amongst the fanbase growing amid a perceived lack of direction or transparency from the board.

Ryan Mason is the third head coach this season, after Cristian Stellini was sacked following a disastrous four-game spell, and with the managerial search set to extend into a third month next week, Spurs fans’ have repeatedly chanted for Levy to leave the club in recent fixtures.

But in his programme notes for the final home match of the season against Brentford, Levy said: “This has been an immensely difficult season.

“We made footballing decisions over recent seasons based on ambition and a desire to bring success to our club and they have not delivered what we had hoped.

“Your frustration has been understandable and all of us at the club have shared it.

“We have undertaken a thorough and rigorous review of our footballing operations. Scott Munn joins us in the summer as our new chief football officer and we look forward to sharing further news with you post-season.

“We shall spend the period ahead of next season working relentlessly to position our club for on-pitch success and football you will love to come and watch.

“Every element of the club’s operations is geared toward delivering that.”

Levy did make similar promises in 2021 with talk of Spurs returning to their “DNA” amid the hunt for Jose Mourinho’s successor.

A lengthy managerial search ended with Nuno Espirito Santo being appointed in June, but he was sacked four months later.

Feyenoord boss Arne Slot has been installed as the new bookies’ favourite to replace Conte in the current head coach hunt.

Earlier this month Julian Nagelsmann was ruled to no longer be a contender while recent weeks have seen Xabi Alonso and Vincent Kompany commit to staying at Bayer Leverkusen and Burnley respectively.

Chairman Levy did pay tribute to Mason for stepping up for a second time in interim charge and women’s caretaker Vicky Jepson, who replaced Rehanne Skinner in March.

He added: “I should like to thank everyone at the club – all our staff, across all our locations, and our players – for their dedication and hard work during what has been a busy and often challenging season.”

Jimmy Butler said his bust-up with Grant Williams lit the fire within after leading the Miami Heat to a terrific comeback win over the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.  

Boasting a 96-87 lead midway through the fourth quarter at TD Garden on Friday, the Celtics looked set to level the series at 1-1, only for Butler to lead his team to a huge 111-105 victory.

Butler scored nine of his team-high 27 points after he went head-to-head with Williams in a heated exchange in the fourth quarter, with the Heat closing the game with a 24-9 run.

Asked whether that incident helped to instigate his strong finish to the game, Butler said: "Yes, it did.

"But that's just competition at its finest. He hit a big shot, started talking to me. I like that. I'm all for that. 

"It makes me key in a lot more, it pushes that will that I have to win a lot more. It makes me smile. It does. 

"When people talk to me, I'm like, 'okay, I know I'm a decent player if you want to talk to me, out of everybody that you can talk to'. It's just competition. 

"I do respect him, though. He's a big part of what they try to do. He switches, he can shoot the ball. I just don't know if I'm the best person to talk to."

Heat guard Caleb Martin concurred, suggesting Williams picked the wrong man to provoke. 

"I knew it was going to be good for us," Martin said. "Knowing Jimmy, at that point in the game, if you get him going… we'll take mad Jimmy any time! 

"You could kind of see it in his eyes that he was ready to go after that."

With Miami set to assume home advantage for Game 3 on Sunday, head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat's ability to find new ways to win has been a key feature of their postseason run. 

"It feels like this has just been our existence all year long," Spoelstra said. "I guess nobody is really paying attention. 

"But every single game… it felt like for weeks on end, every game was ending on the last-second shot, whether we're shooting it or the other team is shooting it.

"You develop some grit from that. Whether that turns into confidence or not, sometimes you don't have the confidence, but at least you have that experience of going through stuff and you understand how tough it is."

Chris Cadden admits Hibernian must be “up for the challenge” of a formidable three-game run to finish the season if they are to qualify for Europe.

The fifth-placed Hibees conclude their cinch Premiership campaign with home games against the top two of Rangers and Celtic followed by an Edinburgh derby away to fourth-placed Hearts.

“It’s going to be tough but that’s what you’re in the top six for,” said 26-year-old Cadden. “These sort of games are what you want. We’ve got to be up for the challenge.

“If you want to do anything, you’ve got to play big games and have big performances and big moments. If you want to finish the season well, that’s what you’ve got to do.

“That’s Scottish football, that’s how the split works, we’ve just got to be up for the challenge.”

Hibs can still realistically finish anywhere between fourth and sixth in the cinch Premiership. Fourth guarantees a European place, fifth would be enough as long as Celtic beat Inverness in the Scottish Cup final, and sixth would see them miss. Cadden is trying not to get embroiled in the different permutations just yet.

“I look at the league table after games but I try not to concentrate on it too much,” he said. “It’s hard, but you try and focus on yourself and don’t want to get caught up in what other teams are doing.

“There are so many different scenarios in terms of where we could finish but we just need to focus on controlling ourselves, controlling our performances and after that see where it puts us in the table. That’s the way I’ve been approaching it.”

Cadden is well aware that if Hibs can keep themselves within touching distance of Hearts over the next two games, next Saturday’s Edinburgh derby could become a straight shootout for fourth place.

“We’re not looking too far ahead, but, yes, we’ve got that possibility looking forward,” he said. “But we’ve got to put ourselves in a good position for that, and that’s what we’ll try and do.

“We’ve got Rangers and Celtic before that, so we need to concentrate on that.”

Sunday’s match against Rangers has extra spice as it falls on the seventh anniversary of Hibs’ famous 2016 Scottish Cup final triumph over the Ibrox side.

“Hibs v Rangers is, in general, always a big game, especially at Easter Road,” said Cadden. “You can tell the atmosphere and taste that it’s a wee bit different. It’s a big game in general but the anniversary will make it even bigger.”

Brett Howden banked the puck off a scrambling Jake Oettinger from behind the net 1:35 into overtime to give the Vegas Golden Knights a 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

William Karlsson scored his sixth and seventh postseason goals for Vegas, while Teddy Blueger netted his first playoff goal since August 5, 2020.

Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson each had a goal and an assist for the Stars and Jamie Benn's goal with 1:59 remaining in regulation forced the extra period.

Hintz upped his playoff totals to 10 goals and 12 assists in 14 contests and Robertson's goal ended an eight-game stretch without one.

Adin Hill made 33 saves to improve to 4-1 this postseason and Oettinger dropped to 8-6 after turning aside 33 of 37 shots.

Game 2 will take place on Sunday in Las Vegas.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe would have no qualms over handing “big-game player” Elliot Anderson the chance to make a name for himself with late-season heroics for a second time.

Twelve months ago, the 20-year-old midfielder ended a hugely successful loan spell at Bristol Rovers in style when he scored the crucial last goal in a 7-0 final-day drubbing of relegated Scunthorpe to edge them to automatic promotion from Sky Bet League Two at Northampton’s expense.

On Monday evening, he could find himself playing a key role as the Magpies attempt to seal Champions League qualification against struggling Leicester, with fellow midfielder Joe Willock nursing a hamstring injury and Sean Longstaff working his way back from a foot problem.

Asked about Anderson’s readiness, head coach Howe said: “No qualms at all. He would have played more this season if it hadn’t been for the form of the players around him, there’s no doubt about that for me.

“The midfield has been performing as a unit very, very well this year. You look at each of the players in that midfield and you’d say they’re up there as our best-performing players, so Elliot, we believe in him, it’s just been the strength of the group.

“I think he showed last year in his loan spell – it was a brilliant experience for him – he showed that he’s a big-game player. When they needed him, Bristol Rovers, he stood up and made the difference and yes, it could be a chance for him to do that again.”

Anderson returned to Tyneside after his spell in Bristol and forced his way into the first-team picture, although he has had to remain patient.

Twenty-one of his 25 appearances to date have come from the bench, and his only Premier League start against Liverpool in February ended after just 24 minutes when he was replaced by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka following Nick Pope’s dismissal.

Howe said: “I’d say he would consider himself a first-team player now, as in a fully-integrated member of the first-team squad. He’s trained consistently throughout the season.

“It’s very difficult for those lads that haven’t played regularly when the team wins consistently and has performed as well as it has to wait for their chance.

“Now, he’s a young player that has been desperate to play, he’s controlled his emotions really well. I do believe he’s added elements to his game and improved certain parts of his game that needed to improve.

“I’d say he’s ready. He’s versatile – he proved that against Brighton. He came on on the right side of midfield. He’s predominantly been used by me as a left-side player and he’s very much capable, so we believe in him.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.