The Phoenix Suns are finalising an agreement with former NBA champion coach Frank Vogel to become their next head coach, according to multiple reports.

Vogel, who guided the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA title during the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, takes over a talent-laden Suns team that has compiled a 160-76 record over the last three regular seasons - the highest winning percentage in the league over that period - but still seeks the first championship of the franchise's 55-year existence.

The 49-year-old replaces Monty Williams, who was fired shortly after the Suns were ousted by the Denver Nuggets in six games in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Williams was hired as the Detroit Pistons' head coach earlier this week. The 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year went 194-115 over four seasons in Phoenix and led the Suns to the 2021 NBA Finals.

Vogel owns a 431-389 overall record over 11 seasons with three different teams along with a career 49-39 playoff record. His greatest success came during his first season in Los Angeles, where a Lakers team led by superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis went 52-19 before winning four playoff series in the Orlando bubble to earn the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

The Lakers failed to follow up on that success, however, losing to the Suns in the first round the following season. Vogel was then fired after the 2021-22 campaign in which Los Angeles went a disappointing 33-49 and missed the playoffs. 

Regarded as a defensive specialist, Vogel previously directed the Indiana Pacers to five playoff appearances - including two trips to the Eastern Conference finals - over a six-year stretch from 2010-16. He also served as the Orlando Magic's head coach from 2016-18.

Vogel will again be taking over a team with two bona fide stars in Phoenix with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker locked into long-term deals, though the Suns do have offseason decisions to make on two other key players. Veteran point guard Chris Paul turned 38 in May and has a partially guaranteed contract for next season, while center Deandre Ayton struggled in the playoff series against the Nuggets and sat out Denver's clinching victory with a rib injury. 

Scotland’s David Law produced a “pretty unbelievable” second round to lie a shot off the halfway lead in the Porsche European Open in Hamburg.

Law tamed a 7,455-yard course known as the Green Monster as he fired an eagle and eight birdies in a seven-under-par 66, a nine-shot improvement on his opening 75.

That drew high praise from the man at the top of the leaderboard, Germany’s Max Kieffer adding a 71 to his opening 69 to reach six under par, a shot ahead of Law, England’s Jordan Smith and Northern Ireland’s Tom McKibbin.

“First of all, seven under is pretty unbelievable,” Kieffer said when told of Law’s score. “That’s a crazy round of golf.

“It’s playing quite long, even though it’s a bit shorter this year than the last few years. There’s lots of water, the greens are quite undulated.

“If you hit a loose shot here and there, usually on every hole there’s a bit of trouble. It’s a very tough course.”

Law could easily have gone even lower than 66 after starting on the back nine and following six birdies in his first eight holes with an eagle on the par-five 18th to be out in 30.

A bogey on the second halted his momentum and although he birdied the fourth and seventh, Law bogeyed his last two holes of the day.

“I went out there just trying to play golf and make birdies and score as low as I can,” the 32-year-old said. “The brakes came on a bit on the back nine, but it’s a difficult course, it’s tough.

“The goal is to keep doing what we were doing. I tried hard on the back nine to keep in the present and make birdies like we were, but it didn’t happen. Barring the last two holes we played really nice on that second nine.”

Arguably the shot of the day belonged to Law’s compatriot Ewen Ferguson, who putted out of a bunker on the 14th and holed from 25 feet for birdie.

“The sand is very firm and compact,” Ferguson said after a 72 left him three off the lead.

“It was a narrow green and I thought if I didn’t get the strike right (with a sand wedge) it could have trickled into the water or I had to go left of the pin.

“I thought I’d putt it and it rolled nicely didn’t it? I’ve never had that before. You just have to go for it and see what happens. Just smash it out and get lucky.”

Cameron Norrie’s French Open campaign ended in disappointing fashion with a straight-sets loss to Lorenzo Musetti in the third round.

It is the third year in a row the British number one has fallen in the last 32, and he only managed to mount any real challenge in the third set before going down 6-1 6-2 6-4.

There is certainly no disgrace in losing to 21-year-old Musetti, who is ranked only five places below Norrie and whose best surface is clay, but the 14th seed will be disappointed by the manner of what is one of his worst grand slam losses in terms of scoreline.

The result, meanwhile, brings an end to British singles hopes at a tournament where only three players even made the start line.

Norrie lost to Musetti in Barcelona recently but spoke positively after his second-round victory over Lucas Pouille about what he had learned from that clash.

He was immediately on the back foot, though, dropping serve in the opening game against the stylish Italian and swiftly losing the opening set.

The second was no better, with Musetti too often finding an answer to everything Norrie could throw at him, and the 17th seed went a break up early in the third as well.

Norrie was staring at his worst slam loss but he at least made a fist of it, breaking Musetti, who had lost from two sets up on both of his previous appearances at Roland Garros, back and creating three chances to break for 5-3.

The Italian held firm, though, and drilled a forehand past Norrie to break again before serving out the victory.

Rory McIlroy bounced back from the nightmare finish to his opening round on day two of the prestigious Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.

Just two days after tournament host Jack Nicklaus had lamented McIlroy’s occasional lapses in concentration, the four-time major winner carded a triple bogey on the 18th to card a level-par 72.

“I don’t know whether his is a constant lack of being able to keep that concentration for the whole thing or not, because sometimes he (goes) par, par, par, double, eight,” Nicklaus said in his pre-event press conference.

“He does that sometimes.”

It was not an eight on Thursday but a nevertheless destructive seven on the par-four 18th, where his drive finished in deep rough on a steep side slope.

McIlroy could only hack his ball almost sideways into more rough and he caught a flier with his third before taking four shots to get down from the back of the green.

“I felt good about everything that I did yesterday,” McIlroy said after carding six birdies and two bogeys in a second round of 68.

“I got one bad break on 18 with that ball finishing on the bank of the bunker. So I really feel like I’m one shot out of leading this golf tournament.

“(If) that rolls down into the bunker, hopefully I’m able to hit it on the green and make a four and instead of standing here at four under I would be at seven under and feeling really good about everything.

“I felt like I did a lot of really good things yesterday and I did a lot of good things right, so I can’t let that one sort of unlucky break sort of hide the fact that everything else was working pretty well.”

At four under par McIlroy was three shots off the early clubhouse lead held by Hideki Matsuyama, the former Masters champion carding a superb bogey-free 65 to lead by one from Patrick Cantlay and David Lipsky.

Hearts and Hibernian have been served with a notice of complaint by the Scottish Football Association after disorder among their players and staff at the end of last weekend’s fiery Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle.

At full-time, following a clash that ended 1-1, two skirmishes erupted on the pitch, one directly in front of the two technical areas and another just moments afterwards in the centre circle.

Hearts goalkeeping coach Paul Gallacher and substitute shot-stopper Ross Stewart as well as Hibs manager Lee Johnson and unused substitute Rocky Bushiri were all shown red cards for their part in the post-match chaos.

And on Friday it emerged that the two clubs have been charged, alleged to have breached disciplinary rule 204, which states that: “All clubs and recognised football bodies shall procure that its officials, team staff, employees and players conduct themselves in an orderly fashion at all times during and/or after a match.

“In particular, clubs and recognised football bodies are responsible for ensuring that its officials, team staff, employees and players refrain from any one or a combination of the following: (a) becoming involved in a confrontation; b) conduct that is likely to lead to or to exacerbate or prolong a hostile or argumentative situation with players and/or team staff from the opposing team and/or match officials; (c) conduct that may otherwise incite disorder.”

The hearing for both clubs is due to take place on June 29.

England are on the verge of a first victory of the summer after record-breaking innings by Ollie Pope and Ben Duckett almost saw Ireland defeated inside two days at Lord’s.

Duckett did the early damage and showed exactly why he is perfect for Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum’s aggressive ‘Bazball’ style with a century on his maiden Test appearance on home soil.

The Nottinghamshire opener made it to 150 off the same number of balls to snatch the record for quickest Test 150 at Lord’s off Australian great Don Bradman before his fun was ended on 182 that came at a strike rate of 102.84.

Duckett had shared a 252-run partnership for the second wicket with Pope, who was not at his fluent best initially but freed up after reaching his fourth hundred and subsequently registered the quickest Test double-century in England.

When Pope was stumped after crashing 22 fours and three maximums in his 205 innings from 208 balls, Stokes declared on 524 for four with Ireland needing 352 to make England bat again but more pressingly required to bat through the evening session to force a third day of this one-off Test.

Three wickets for debutant Josh Tongue in a terrific spell threatened the possibility England could wrap up victory inside two days but Harry Tector stood firm to guide Ireland to the close on 97 for three, although opener James McCollum is unlikely to bat again after he retired hurt.

Stokes’ bold declaration was in keeping with England’s desire to go against convention but it does mean himself, Harry Brook and Jonny Bairstow are all short of time at the crease ahead of the Ashes opener on June 16.

Pat Cummins and co will not be as generous at Edgbaston as red-ball novices Ireland have been this week in only their seventh Test, but the emergence of Tongue makes this a worthwhile exercise.

The debutant pinned Peter Moor in front for 11 and bounced out Paul Stirling for 15 during an excellent eight-over spell of three for 27.

Duckett wasted little time moving England ahead of Ireland’s 172 total at the start of day two with a four off his first ball before he raced onto 99 with a cover drive and flick off his pads down to the fine leg boundary in a 35th over that also brought up the hundred partnership between Pope.

The next over produced further milestones with the Nottinghamshire opener able to celebrate a second century for England after he nudged into the leg side for a single to short midwicket.

Duckett held his arms aloft after he made it to a hundred from 106 deliveries following a chanceless innings in his 10th Test, but first on home soil.

Pope had been more frenetic during the first hour, with the occasional play-and-miss married with the odd boundary down to third man that did not always look completely controlled.

England’s number three also survived a review for an lbw against debutant Fionn Hand before lunch to walk off three short of a century, but the session belonged to Duckett, who swept his way into the history books.

Two off Hand ensured Duckett reached 150 off the same amount of balls to set a new quickest 150 in Test cricket at Lord’s, beating Bradman’s previous record off 163 deliveries during the 1930 Ashes.

Duckett picked up where he left off after lunch and crunched 14 from one Andy McBrine over with a slog sweep for the first maximum of the Test and a reverse sweep for four.

Another drive to the boundary saw Duckett move on to 182 and bring up the 250-run partnership but he edged onto his stumps later in the over off Graham Hume.

Pope now picked up the baton. He reached three figures for a fourth time in Test cricket with a single in the second over of the afternoon session – and it settled him down.

A pull and cut away to the boundary was followed by a reverse paddle scoop before Pope hit the first maximums straight over McBrine’s head.

Another drive for four saw Pope celebrate his 150 off 166 balls during a hundred partnership with Joe Root, who made 56 and went beyond 11,000 Test runs but struggled with his timing in a scratchy innings of 59 deliveries.

Pope hit exactly 100 runs in the afternoon session to walk off three short of 200, but he got there when he skipped down the wicket to hit McBrine for six after tea before Stokes’ trademark bold declaration almost forced an early finish.

There comes a point when you think Frankie Dettori is writing his own scripts. And we are surely approaching that now, after the magical Italian added the Betfred Oaks on Soul Sister to the 2000 Guineas he won on Chaldean, begging the question ‘why retire?’.

Just for good measure Dettori also won the day’s other Group One contest at Epsom, the Dahlbury Coronation Cup, with Emily Upjohn – and ended the afternoon as favourite to be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Both winners were trained by John and Thady Gosden.

There were joyous scenes following both victories. Dettori was delighted to have won the Coronation Cup for the Lloyd Webbers, part-owners of the filly and long-standing patrons at the Gosden yard, after she was so narrowly denied in the Oaks 12 months ago.

And while Group Ones are not to be sniffed at, especially in your final year, it is the Classics the game is built around and for what jockeys are really remembered.

This was Dettori’s seventh Oaks to go with four wins each in the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, six St Legers and two Derbys – more of that later.

“Emily was incredible, I didn’t expect that. Then in the Oaks – she’s a good filly,” said the 52-year-old.

Listening to Dettori explaining his thought process through a race is like a teaching from a master, and he clearly still gets a great kick out of it.

He said: “It was a bit messy in the beginning and she took a while to organise, I had to bite the bullet. She jumped good and I was looking for somebody’s wheel to follow as I didn’t want to be stuck wide.

“I wanted to slot in behind Ryan (Moore, on favourite Savethelastdance), but William (Buick, on Eternal Hope) was there before me. I thought with Oisin (Murphy, on the withdrawn Running Lion) out of the way the ones to beat were Ryan and William, so I parked myself behind William to get her to relax.

“Nearly out of Tattenham Corner William’s horse just dived in front of me so I thought, given she only had a little experience, if I went wide at least I would have clean air.”

He went on: “I then had to avoid the other pacemaker and swing even wider and the Connor (Beasley on Caernarfon) came upsides me.

“I didn’t ask for my filly’s ultimate effort and I was telling myself to bide my time, I sat quiet between the three (furlong marker) and the one and a half and then I was just hoping if I pressed the button she’d go. And she did go! It was good relief. The track wasn’t to her liking, but she showed so much class.”

Of course, there has been no bigger showman in racing since Dettori came over to England from Italy in the late 1980s and just a few years later he was a household name.

Quite what the sport will do to fill the void when he retires later this is still up for debate. He remains the biggest marketing tool out there by a long way and the publicity of his farewell season, with him still at the top of his game, cannot be bought.

“I was able to enjoy the screaming of all of the crowd and I couldn’t believe I’d won another Oaks! I was able to enjoy it and I loved it as I knew I’d won,” he said.

“Usually when you win the Oaks they give you an oak tree, the last one I got for Snowfall my dog decided to play with it and ripped it around the garden, so I could do with a new tree!

“When I passed them all I knew as I’d come from the back, I knew there was nobody behind me. You don’t get many opportunities to celebrate like that – maybe with Snowfall who was 20 lengths clear – but all the owners are here and all the gang so to go home and say I’ve done a 100 per cent job is great.”

However good the Oaks is, one race above all others in Flat racing is king. The Betfred Derby may be under well-documented threat from animal rights protesters, but if Frankie Dettori has his way there will an Arrest of a different kind on the front pages.

“At the moment things are going well, but you can easily mess up in this game! Five months is a long time,” he said when asked why he was calling it a day.

“If I stay one more year I might get close to Lester’s (Piggott) 30 (Classics) – I’m joking! It’s mental, it’s incredible. I’ve had three good rides this weekend, Emily, Soul Sister and Arrest. To get two in the bag with one to go is incredible, I’m very excited about tomorrow. John’s horses, as you can see, are on fire and let’s hope it continues to tomorrow.”

Novak Djokovic fought off a terrific challenge from Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to reach the fourth round of the French Open for a 14th consecutive year.

The 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5) 6-2 victory took three hours and 36 minutes, with Djokovic twice a break down in the first set and forced to save a set point in the second.

The 22-time grand-slam champion looked unsettled in windy conditions, while he called the trainer before the third set to have his left thigh massaged, but, as he so often does, he found a way to come out on top.

Djokovic had struggled in his opening set against Marton Fucsovics on Wednesday before breezing through the next two, and it quickly became clear Spaniard Davidovich Fokina would offer a real test.

The 23-year-old, ranked 34, matched his opponent in physical rallies from the baseline and broke for the first time to lead 3-2.

Djokovic hit straight back but was broken again at 5-5 after a game that featured three double faults and a time violation.

Again, Davidovich Fokina was unable to serve it out, though, and Djokovic made him pay for the wasted opportunities by winning a tie-break.

This time the challenge very much continued in the second set as the pair exchanged breaks of serve three times, with Djokovic unable to clinch it at 5-4.

Davidovich Fokina had one chance to break again and level the match in Djokovic’s next service game but he could not take it and the Serbian again came out on top in a tie-break.

Djokovic let his emotions out, roaring and fist-pumping, but the toll the effort had taken became clear when he called the trainer, applying ice to his left thigh and gesturing sarcastically towards the crowd.

Djokovic looked distinctly uncomfortable at times in the third set but he forged ahead early on and did not let Davidovich Fokina back in, giving a weary celebration when the Spaniard’s resistance finally ran out.

“I knew that it’s going to be a very difficult match, a very physical match,” said Djokovic.

“He contested very, very well. He’s an amazing fighter, amazing player. Congratulations to him for fighting. Bad luck but he played a great match.

“Of course a win is a win, maybe a little bit too much, three hours for two sets. I thought, if I would lose the second set, we’d probably play for five hours.

“But you have to be ready. It takes a lot of effort but we all have to believe in ourselves. I’m proud of the performance today for sure.”

It was another day of long matches, with Italian Lorenzo Sonego fighting back from two sets down to defeat seventh seed Andrey Rublev, while Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner saw off Fabio Fognini in five sets.

After his epic victory over Stan Wawrinka, Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis was involved in another lengthy battle with 11th seed Karen Khachanov but was unable to force a decider, losing out 6-4 6-1 3-6 7-6 (5).

Lewis Hamilton fears he will start Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix outside of the top 10 following a disheartening day in practice for the British driver and his Mercedes team.

As Max Verstappen predictably set the pace for Red Bull with a practice double at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, Hamilton finished only 11th, more than six tenths of a second back.

Home favourite Fernando Alonso raised hope that he could challenge Verstappen and his all-conquering Red Bull team after he finished second for Aston Martin, just 0.170 seconds back. George Russell was eighth in the other Mercedes.

Before stepping into his cockpit this weekend, Hamilton admitted that his team’s much-anticipated upgrade, which made its debut in Monaco a week ago, had not provided the magic fix he was hoping for.

And on his new machine’s second outing at a track where the Silver Arrows said they would obtain a greater understanding of their upgrades, the evidence suggests they are no closer to taking on the mighty Red Bull, or leapfrogging rivals Aston Martin and Ferrari.

Indeed, Mercedes might have fallen further down the pecking order, with Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, and the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas all above the seven-time world champion in the order.

Asked about his prospects for qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton said: “From the pace that I had today it will be a struggle to get into the top 10. It is not going to be easy, that is for sure.

“We are fighting as hard as we can. It was a difficult day getting on top of the tyres. The car feels… like the car. Hopefully we can make some changes overnight.

“It is impressive to see the improvements that everyone has made around us – if you look at the Alpines, and you can also see the Aston Martin is right behind the Red Bull which is impressive.”

Hamilton said after May’s Miami Grand Prix that he was “counting down the days” for the upgrade he hoped would propel him back to the front. But there appears no end in sight to his 30-race losing streak.

Verstappen, 39 points clear in his pursuit for a third successive title, has been in a class of one for the past 18 months and his dominance continued on Friday.

A day after he made the ominous prediction that Red Bull could win all 16 remaining races this year, Verstappen finished seven tenths faster than anyone else in the opening running before returning to the top of the timesheets for the day’s final action.

Alonso however, lingers with intent. His home race this weekend marks the 10th anniversary of his 32nd and last win in the sport.

However, the Spaniard, 41, is enjoying a career resurgence following his transfer from Alpine to Aston Martin, finishing on the podium at five of the first six races.

“Every time I have come to Barcelona I have been told it has been five years since I last won, and then seven years, and now it is 10,” said Alonso.

“But it doesn’t feel that long to me. Last year we saw how much Mercedes improved during the season, and they won in Brazil with George. There will be an opportunity around the corner and we have to be there to take it.”

Jack Channon was far from downhearted after coming within two lengths of Betfred Oaks glory with Caernarfon in his first season with a training licence.

Channon took over from his father Mick at West Ilsley at the start of the year, and has wasted little time in making his presence felt in the fillies’ Classics, with Caernarfon having also taken a fine fourth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket last month.

Stepping up to 12 furlongs for the first time at Epsom, Channon thought he might be about to enjoy a dream start to his training career as Caernarfon briefly grabbed the lead two furlongs out.

However, the unstoppable Frankie Dettori – landing his second Group One of the day – delivered Soul Sister with a perfectly-timed challenge to secure the honours, with Caernarfon touched off a head by Savethelastdance for second.

The 40-1 shot could now drop back in distance after delighting Channon with her run.

He said: “I thought she was going to win two out, but then I saw Frankie was cantering as well. She’s a very good filly, I’ll see what Connor (Beasley, jockey) says but she tanked herself into the race, had every chance and she’s probably just been outstayed by two stayers.

“She’s a very good filly and has run a belter. She’ll probably drop back to 10 furlongs but I’ll have a chat with Connor and let the dust settle.

“I couldn’t be happier – apart from if she’d won.”

Beasley was equally as thrilled, adding: “She travelled lovely into the race. Coming away down Tattenham Corner she came underneath me really good and I thought, ‘I’ve just got to try to pick a way through’. She obviously hit the front and I don’t think she’s quite seen it out.

“But it was amazing, what she’s just done there, and I think we’ve got a very nice filly to go to war with.

“I can’t thank Jack and Mick Channon enough and the owners – they’ve stood by me with her.”

Savethelastdance was sent off the 5-6 favourite on the back of her wide-margin Cheshire Oaks victory, one that came on deep ground as opposed to the much quicker Epsom conditions.

Her trainer Aidan O’Brien offered no excuses in defeat, saying: “She has run well but she obviously handles soft ground and stays very well.

“We were very happy with her really. She has a lot of options and we can do whatever.

“Ryan (Moore) was very happy and said she ran a good race. She stayed on very well. The winner was a bit quicker than her on the better ground, but she ran well. She ran a great race but she was beaten by a very classy filly.

“Ryan said she was not finished going to the line and that she was still going strong. A furlong out she looked like she was going to be third, but she stayed on well to be second.

“We will take her home and nothing is ruled in or out.”

Maman Joon, who had finished second on her only previous start at Newbury, defied her odds of 50-1 to take a distant fourth for jockey Kevin Stott and trainer Richard Hannon.

The rider said: “It was a really good run on just her second start. She will be going places and we like her a lot. I was riding for luck more than anything and it turned out the way I wanted.

“They just quickened up a bit quicker than I did, but that is probably down to her inexperience. It was a good run. I think there is a nice prize in her.”

There had been drama at the start when Running Lion, a stablemate of the winner, kicked out in the stalls before backing out and breaking free, leaving Oisin Murphy stranded and forcing her withdrawal from the race.

John Gosden is now targeting quick compensation in France, as long as the filly recovers sufficiently.

He said: “Running Lion has never done anything wrong before – she’s a pussycat. She got her leg caught in the gate and cut it, so they had to take her out, and then she got loose.

“We’ll get her right and then take her for the Prix de Diane in 16 days’ time.”

Murphy added: “She just kicked the back gates open.”

Sports stars and clubs across the world continue to provide an insight into their lives on social media.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the best examples from June 2.


England set a new trend.


James Maddison reacted to Leicester’s demotion.

A weekend of finals.

Bastian Schweinsteiger remembered Bayern Munich’s treble-winning season of 2012-13.

Formula One

Neymar hung out with Lewis Hamilton.

Tony Docherty has secured his first signing as Dundee manager after Joe Shaughnessy pledged to join the cinch Championship title winners.

The former Aberdeen, Southend and St Johnstone defender will join Dundee when his St Mirren contract expires next week.

Docherty told his club’s website: “I worked with Joe as a young player at Aberdeen and he is the type of person I want at this football club.

“I know what I’m getting with Joe. He has a great work ethic and attitude. He has great experience of the league having captained both St Mirren and St Johnstone.

“There was a lot of competition from other clubs to get him, so I’m delighted he has chosen to sign for us.”

The Irish defender had an offer to stay in Paisley but opted to move on.

The 30-year-old said: “I am really excited to get started at Dundee and work with the manager again. I’ve had positive chats with him over the last few days and I can’t wait to get in for the first day of pre-season and get started.”

Lee Ashcroft and Harrison Sharp earlier signed two-year contracts to stay on at Dens Park.

“I have loved my three years at the club so far and am looking forward to hopefully a successful season in the top division after winning the league last year,” 29-year-old former Kilmarnock and Dunfermline defender Ashcroft said.

Goalkeeper Sharp made 14 appearances last season, seven of them in the league.

The 22-year-old said: “I thoroughly enjoyed last season and some of the memories that we made as a squad are memories that will last forever, and now I can’t wait to be back playing in the league where we belong.”

The pair follow goalkeeper Adam Legzdins, long-serving full-back Cammy Kerr and homegrown midfielder Lyall Cameron in agreeing to stay since promotion was secured early last month.

The Dark Blues announced earlier this week that Alex Jakubiak, Jordan Marshall, Paul McMullan, Luke Strachan, Paul McGowan and Cillian Sheridan had not been offered new contracts.

Max Verstappen completed a practice double for Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton finished only 11th on a disheartening day for the seven-time world champion and his Mercedes team.

As Verstappen predictably set the pace for Red Bull at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, Hamilton, 12th in the day’s first running, ended second practice six tenths off the pace.

Home favourite Fernando Alonso raised hope that he could challenge Verstappen and his all-conquering Red Bull team after he finished second for Aston Martin, just 0.170 seconds back.

Nico Hulkenberg was an impressive third for Haas, with Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez fourth.

Hamilton admitted on Thursday that Mercedes’ much-anticipated upgrade, which made its debut in Monaco a week ago, had not provided the magic fix he was hoping for.

And on his new machine’s second outing, at a track where the Silver Arrows said they would obtain a greater understanding of their upgrades, the evidence suggests they are no closer to taking on the mighty Red Bull, or indeed, leapfrogging rivals Aston Martin and Ferrari.

Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell finished eighth, half-a-second off the pace.

Russell also came within inches of a nasty accident with Oscar Piastri after he was blocked by the rookie McLaren driver.

Russell was forced to take evasive action, running off the road and into the gravel.

“Who the f*** was that in the McLaren,” said the usually mild-mannered Briton as he limped through the sandtrap.

Verstappen has been in a class of one for the past 18 months and his dominance continued on Friday.

A day after he made the ominous prediction that Red Bull could win all 16 remaining races this year, Verstappen finished seven tenths faster than anyone else in the opening running before returning to the top of the timesheets for the day’s final action.

Alonso’s home race this weekend marks the 10th anniversary of his 32nd and last win in the sport.

However, the Spaniard is enjoying a career resurgence following his transfer from Alpine to Aston Martin, finishing on the podium at five of the first six races, and emerging as a possible threat to Verstappen.

Five days after he finished on the podium in Monaco, Esteban Ocon was fifth for Alpine, three tenths back, with the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz sixth and seventh respectively.

British driver Lando Norris finished 14th for McLaren, two places behind his rookie team-mate Piastri.

Aryna Sabalenka did not undertake her usual media duties at the French Open citing mental health concerns after her third-round win over Kamilla Rakhimova.

The second seed was involved in a tense exchange with a Ukrainian journalist on Wednesday over her previous support for Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

“For many months now I have answered these questions at tournaments and been very clear in my feelings and my thoughts,” said Sabalenka.

“These questions do not bother me after my matches. I know that I have to provide answers to the media on things not related to my tennis or my matches but, on Wednesday, I did not feel safe in the press conference.

“I should be able to feel safe when I do interviews with the journalists after my matches. For my own mental health and well-being, I have decided to take myself out of this situation today, and the tournament has supported me in this decision.

“It hasn’t been an easy few days, and now my focus is continue to play well here in Paris.”

Roland Garros organisers claimed Sabalenka talked to a hand-picked group of journalists in a ‘press conference’ after easing past Rakhimova 6-2 6-2, but it is understood all the questions were asked by a WTA employee.

It is not yet clear whether Sabalenka, who is through to the fourth round in Paris for the first time, will attend press conferences for the rest of the tournament.

The Australian Open champion was also asked questions about the war after her first-round victory over Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk, who refused to shake her hand and was booed off court.

She said afterwards that all Russian and Belarusian athletes were against the war but refused to answer questions from the Ukrainian journalist on Wednesday.

Third seed Jessica Pegula also declined to do a press conference following the disappointment of her 6-1 6-3 loss to 28th seed Elise Mertens.

The American, whose preparations were disrupted by food poisoning, failed to make the quarter-finals for only the second time in the last six grand slams.

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, meanwhile, did not shake hands with Russian opponent Anna Blinkova at the end of her 2-6 6-2 7-5 victory.

Amid more booing from the crowd on Simonne Mathieu, Svitolina, who is married to French player Gael Monfils, gave a thumbs-up and exchanged a few words with Blinkova but did not offer her hand.

Svitolina, in her first grand slam tournament since giving birth to her daughter in October, will next play another Russian, Daria Kasatkina, who has been the most vocal of the Russian and Belarusian competitors in speaking out against the war.

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