Manchester United are through to a record-equalling 21st FA Cup final and will take on Manchester City on Saturday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the Red Devils’ route to another Wembley showdown.

Man Utd 3 Everton 1 (third round, Jan 6)

In-form Marcus Rashford scored his fifth goal in as many games after creating two others as Erik ten Hag’s men cruised to victory.

The forward set up Antony’s early opener before seeing a second-half cross turned into his own net by Conor Coady, scorer of Everton’s equaliser.

Then in stoppage time Rashford kept his scoring run going by sending Jordan Pickford the wrong way from the penalty spot after Ben Godfrey fouled Alejandro Garnacho.

Man Utd 3 Reading 1 (fourth round, Jan 28)

Casemiro scored a magnificent brace before Fred flicked home audaciously as United’s Brazilian stars sparkled.

The hosts initially made hard work of the straightforward fourth-round assignment against Championship opposition, but second half samba magic in the Manchester rain sealed victory on a night when Amadou Mbengue grabbed Reading a consolation after Andy Carroll was sent off.

Man Utd 3 West Ham 1 (fifth round, March 1)

Teenage star Garnacho inspired United to a late comeback win as Ten Hag’s men sealed progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals three days on from their Carabao Cup triumph.

United looked set to be brought back down to earth with a bump after Said Benrahma put the Hammers into a deserved lead, only for Nayef Aguerd’s 77th-minute own goal to spark an impressive turnaround.

Garnacho’s superb 90th-minute effort followed, before a stoppage-time strike by Fred.

Man Utd 3 Fulham 1 (quarter-finals, March 19)

United punished five minutes of madness from Fulham as they came from behind to progress to the semi-finals.

Marco Silva’s men were full value for the lead that Aleksandar Mitrovic gave them five minutes into the second half, but the wheels came off with around 20 minutes left.

Silva, Willian and Mitrovic were all sent off in quick succession, with Bruno Fernandes levelling from the resulting penalty.

Marcel Sabitzer flicked home to put United ahead, before the Fernandes lashed in another in stoppage time.

Man Utd 0 Brighton 0 – United win 7-6 on pens (semi-finals, April 23)


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United set-up an all-Manchester final against rivals City after Solly March’s spot-kick miss saw Brighton suffer semi-final shoot-out heartache.

In-form Albion made Ten Hag’s team sweat as the south-coast club sought to reach just their second FA Cup final, with the semi-final ending 0-0 after 120 minutes at Wembley.

The first 12 penalties of the shoot-out found the net before Albion favourite March blazed over, allowing Victor Lindelof to secure a 7-6 win.

Pep Guardiola and Erik ten Hag will lead the teams out at Wembley this weekend in the first-ever all-Manchester FA Cup final.

Ahead of Saturday’s showdown in the capital, the PA news agency has taken a closer look at the City and United managers.

Past meetings

This season’s Premier League encounters are the only times these managers have faced off, with City winning the first encounter 6-3 in October before United came back to win 2-1 at Old Trafford in January.

But while they do not have a huge history of playing against one another, these managers know each other well.

Ten Hag left Go Ahead Eagles in his homeland in 2013 to become head coach of Bayern Munich II – the reserve team of the perennial Bundesliga champions, who were then managed by Guardiola.

The United boss said the Spaniard inspired him, with the pair talking regularly with the Dutchman watching him very carefully. Ten Hag has previously described his training sessions as “a joy to watch”.

Guardiola clearly thinks highly of his cross-city rival, who he said would have made an excellent successor for him at the Etihad Stadium before his United appointment was confirmed.


Guardiola, arguably the greatest coach of this generation, boasts an eye-watering medal haul.

The 52-year-old has won 11 top-flight titles – three LaLiga crowns, three Bundesliga titles and now five Premier League triumphs. Guardiola oversaw a pair of Champions League victories at Barcelona, which he hopes to add to against Inter Milan in June’s Istanbul finale.

The Catalan has also won domestic trophies aplenty wherever he has been, with Saturday offering the chance to win his second FA Cup.

The freshly-crowned LMA Manager of the Year takes on a man that led Ajax to three Eredivisie titles during his time in Amsterdam, as well as a pair of KNVB Cups and the Johan Cruyff Shield.

Ten Hag’s first silverware as a manager was the Regionalliga Bayern title in 2014, while this season’s Carabao Cup victory was his latest triumph and first at United.

This season

City are looking to write their name in history by matching United’s 1999 treble heroes. Guardiola’s side saw off Arsenal’s impressive title charge during an unrelenting end to the season that led them to be crowned with three games to spare – their fifth in six years and third in succession.

Inter stand in their way as City make their second Champions League final appearance on June 10, where they would have the chance to wrap up the treble, unless Ten Hag’s Red Devils can put a spoke in the wheel at Wembley.

United have improved vastly on last season’s wretched campaign to finish third in the Premier League, securing a Champions League return on the back of ending their six-year wait for silverware.

Ten Hag became just the second manager in the club’s medal-laden history to win a major trophy in his first season at the helm with February’s Carabao Cup triumph against Newcastle.

Now comes the chance to add another trophy to the cabinet with a statement victory that would end their neighbours’ treble dreams.

Rivals Manchester City and Manchester United clash in the FA Cup final this weekend.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key talking points ahead of the Wembley encounter.

The treble

City head to Wembley hoping to complete the second leg of a glorious treble. The Premier League title is in the bag and the Champions League final against Inter Milan is still to come. Adding spice to the occasion is the fact that United are the only other English club to have achieved this feat, back in 1999. Their fans would certainly love nothing more than to stop their neighbours emulating them.

Champions League final influence

It will be interesting to see how much of a bearing the Champions League final has on City manager Pep Guardiola’s selection. The European competition is the one great prize that has eluded him during his time at City and is undoubtedly his priority. He could opt to hold players back with that in mind. However, this is not his normal way and, with a week between the fixtures, there is time for rest and recovery. Guardiola will also need to keep his star players sharp and there can be few better games in which to do so than a Wembley final.

Ten Hag recovery

Erik ten Hag has lifted spirits at Old Trafford after a dreadful 2021-22 campaign in which they got through three managers. There have still been some bad defeats along the way – most notably 4-0 at Brentford, 6-3 at City and 7-0 at Liverpool – but the Dutchman has generally earned credit for the way he turned the team around. He won the Carabao Cup and got them back into the Champions League. There was even talk of a title challenge at one stage as they hit form mid-season. United are still some way off where they aspire to be, but winning the FA Cup would cap a promising campaign.

Haaland chasing more headlines

Erling Haaland has written his name all over this season. The prolific Norwegian has had a sensational impact at City, scoring 52 goals in all competitions. Dixie Dean’s near century-old all-time single-season record of 63 may be beyond him now but he will be hungry for more and to add a significant, competition-winning strike to his tally. He is not the only dangerman in the City side but he will be the one feared most by United.

United options

United’s pursuit of Champions League football fuelled a strong finish to their Premier League campaign. With players also staking claims for cup final places, they secured third place with a run of four-successive wins. This has given Ten Hag the pleasant problem of deciding which players to leave out. The make-up of the attack could be particularly interesting with Marcus Rashford now fit after illness, Antony close to returning from injury and Alejandro Garnacho and Jadon Sancho having done their cases no harm in recent weeks.

Former Leeds defender Gaetano Berardi has announced his retirement aged 34.

Berardi, who made over 150 appearances for Leeds in all competitions during a seven-year spell with the club until his departure in 2021, posted his farewell message on Instagram.

He said: “A word can contain many emotions, many feelings, many memories and most of all many people. I choose one to close the chapter: THANK YOU!”

Berardi’s committed playing style made him a fans’ favourite at Elland Road, where he was a key member of the side which won promotion to the Premier League under Marcelo Bielsa in 2020.

The Swiss right-back, who made one senior appearance for his country, joined Leeds from Sampdoria in 2014 and recovered from a serious knee injury to make two top-flight appearances in 2020-21.

He joined Swiss club Sion and closed out his playing career at Bellinzona.

England captain Ben Stokes has no concerns over his ability to bowl in this summer’s Ashes.

Stokes’ long-standing left knee issue caused him problems during February’s tour of New Zealand and his recent time at the Indian Premier League proved fruitless.

All-rounder Stokes played only twice for Chennai Super Kings and sent down just one over for 18 runs during his IPL stint but ahead of this week’s one-off Test with Ireland at Lord’s, the 31-year-old is confident he can have an impact when the Ashes begins on June 16.

He said: “Yeah, look the knee is in much better place than it was in Wellington.

“I’ve been over in India for the IPL and these last eight or nine weeks I know I have got myself in a position where I can’t say I regret anything.

“I have got myself into a place where I feel like in a 2019, 2020 space in terms of my own body and fitness. I have definitely given myself the best opportunity (to bowl this summer).

“We know what it is (the problem) and now it is about managing it.”

Charlie Johnston was always destined to take over from his record-breaking father Mark at their Middleham base. But to have a realistic Betfred Derby contender through Dubai Mile in his first year with just his name on the licence has certainly exceeded his expectations.

While Johnston senior went close at Epsom with Dee Ex Bee in 2018, finishing second to Masar, the blue riband event was one of only a handful of major races to elude him during a stellar career.

Charlie initially shared the licence with his father last season before Mark took his name off completely, sooner than many thought but done partly through paternal pride so that his son would get the credit he felt he deserved.

Now, with Dubai Mile having won a Group One over 10 furlongs at two in France and run perfectly well in the 2000 Guineas when fifth, Charlie has a real shot at putting the Johnston name on the illustrious Epsom roll of honour.

“I wouldn’t be singing from the roof if he wins having done so in my name, in fact I’d be a bit embarrassed after dad had been trying for 30 years and we won it for the first time without his name on the licence!” said Johnston.

“There’s still no greater race for a trainer to win, I think.

“There’s no race I can win this year that would give me greater assurances that when I go to the yearling sales, people will want to fill this barn again next year and try to find the next one.

“This game is a cycle and you always want people to invest in you, by winning the Derby there is no greater advertisement.”

Dubai Mile is owned by Ahmad Al Shaikh, who himself has had two of his horses finish second at huge prices in recent years – Khalifa Sat at 50-1 behind Serpentine in 2020 and Hoo Ya Mal at 150-1 to Desert Crown last year.

Johnston said: “He’s gone close twice in the Derby at huge prices, so I’m sure he’s going there with huge expectations and he’s great fun to train for.

“He flew a team from his favourite restaurant in London up here and we had a huge lunch with all the staff while watching the (Saint-Cloud) race and he gave prizes out and I don’t think the team has ever felt closer or more involved than he made them.”

Having only cost €20,000 at the Goffs Orby Sale, despite being by Roaring Lion and out of Beach Bunny, who was beaten just a short head by Dar Re Mi in the 2009 Pretty Polly, Johnston has shown he can look beyond the obvious – and feels others may have been put off by Dubai Mile’s big white face.

“We thought we’d got a bargain at £20,000. To us he’s a very good looking horse, but bizarrely a lot of people would be put off by his markings for a start. He’s got so much white about him and he must have had a fight with a fence at some point as a foal as when you take the saddle off, he’s got white marks all over his withers,” said Johnston.

“His pedigree, as is always the case, put us on to him. We’ve been fortunate to have horses for Lady O’Reilly (Beach Bunny’s owner), so would always pay close attention to her horses. Another factor was probably the fact that his stallion was sadly dead at the time, which meant he was never going to get the same support as most first-season sires and he was a weak, backward yearling.

“I’m not going to say we knew right away (he was good) as we buy 70 every year in that price bracket, but am I confident that out of 20 every year we’d find one good one? Yes, but was I confident he was the one? Probably not until he ran in the Royal Lodge, if I’m honest.

“The Royal Lodge (second to The Foxes) looked ambitious at the time, because of his price he’d been astutely placed to win two restricted novices, but I think the handicapper would have said he had no chance going into the Royal Lodge, as did the market. But it was a small field and it was a race we always like to target which led us to roll the dice.

“We’ll be taking the winner on again and a lot of water has gone under the bridge for both since the Royal Lodge. I got the impression up until York they thought he (The Foxes) was a 10-furlong horse and there was talk of the French Derby, whereas we’ve always known where we were going.

“Ahmad was always keen to go for the Guineas and, in hindsight, it was clearly the right decision because there’s been a hell of a lot more interest in him since then than before it. People take him a lot more seriously now.

“I said if he finished in the first six and hit the line strong I’d be delighted and that is exactly what he did. He’d have been fourth in another stride which would have been lovely but knowing he wants further, we couldn’t have wished for much more.”

Since the Guineas, John and Thady Gosden’s Arrest has won the Chester Vase on soft ground. His first run since being beaten a head by Dubai Mile in France and yet Dubai Mile is available at a much bigger price.

“A lot has been made of our form with Arrest and interestingly he’s about a quarter of the price we are. It’s probably not surprising given John Gosden’s Derby record and ours, but the weather forecast means it should be a good to firm Derby, whether it is or not we’ll wait and see,” said Johnston.

“I’m sure Arrest’s camp are a lot more worried about that than us. We might have won a Group One on heavy, but we’d rather it was quicker as it might inconvenience a few others.”

Of the others, he said: “I have a lot of respect for the (Jessica) Harrington horse (Sprewell), he looks overlooked in the market simply because Aidan (O’Brien) doesn’t get beaten in that (Leopardstown) trial and if you do beat him, you must have a good one.

“It’s been a bit different this spring as the two trials you’d expect Aidan to win he’s been beaten in, with the (John) Murphy horse (White Birch) winning the other (Ballysax) – and he ran a nice race at York (second to The Foxes).

“It should always be the best test of a three-year-old and all the ones who deserve to be there will be there. Does 14-1 represent our chance? It probably does, it might underestimate him a little.

“There’s no horse in this race that we know is better than ours, on ratings we’re right there with them all. He’s a Group One winner who ran a good trial over an inadequate trip in the Guineas, so in that sense I think we’ve got a rock-solid profile.

“The fact he was a €20,000 yearling and a bit more unfashionable probably explains why he’s 14-1 rather than 4-1. There’s nothing in there that scares me or we have 7lb to find with. If he improves for the trip, which we all expect he will, then he goes there with a good chance.

“I don’t feel it has added any pressure, it’s great to have a horse like this, you need them any time but to have one the first year the licence is in my name is great.”

Rhys Webb has become the latest Wales player to announce his retirement from Test rugby before the World Cup.

Scrum-half Webb, who won 40 caps, follows his Ospreys colleagues Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric in stepping down.


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All three were members of Wales’ preliminary World Cup training squad ahead of the tournament in France later this year.

Writing on Instagram, 34-year-old Webb said that “present uncertainty and difficulties in Welsh rugby” and “an opportunity to play abroad” had influenced his decision.

David Menuisier is confident a step up in trip can help Heartache Tonight hit the big time when she races in the UK for the first time in the Betfred Oaks on Friday.

A €160,000 purchase as a yearling, she is a half-sister to two-time Group One-winner Wonderful Tonight, Menuisier’s former stable star.

The daughter of Recorder now has the chance to step out of her sibling’s shadow and she heads to Epsom with an encouraging book of form in France to her name, placing in the Prix Cleopatre and beaten less than two lengths when a close-up fourth in the Prix Saint-Alary last time out.

Despite bringing that Group One form to the table, Heartache Tonight is still available for the Oaks at odds as big as 33-1.

But her handler is not fussed by her outsider status, with Cristian Demuro set to continue his association with the filly having ridden her in all three starts so far.

“I don’t mind being overlooked, that is the story of my life, but it won’t stop her from running well,” said Menuisier.

“It was a great effort in the Prix Saint-Alary and she has been craving the step up to a mile and a half. We decided to keep her at one-mile-two to try to gain more experience and more tactical speed and we are delighted so far.

“Cristian Demuro will come and ride. We get on well and he’s our go-to man when we go to France. He absolutely loves the filly and the schedule wasn’t too busy for him, so he’s really delighted to keep the ride on her.”

So far, all of Heartache Tonight’s appearances have come on ground described as soft or slower, but Menuisier is hopeful she might not be as ground dependant as her illustrious mud-loving half-sister ahead of her bid for Classic honours.

“We’re just hoping the ground isn’t too quick, we’re hoping for genuine good ground,” continued Menuisier.

“She seems different to the half-sister – she was really designed for soft ground and had a very high knee action.

“Heartache tonight is a bit more elegant, she moves much better, so we like to believe she might not need it as soft. Obviously she will handle soft/heavy conditions later in the year probably better than most, but if she could handle quicker ground then that is a definite plus.”

The handler also feels her performance in the Prix Saint-Alary shows she has the potential to match Wonderful Tonight’s achievements on track.

Menuisier added: “At the moment she is showing the right signs and is a little bit above Wonderful Tonight as she would have been unable to perform good over one-mile-two at Group One level in the spring.

“So whether the finished article will be ahead of the sister, it would be lovely to think so, but she has a serious challenge ahead of her, so we will see.”

London Irish must pay all staff for May in full today or be withdrawn from the Gallagher Premiership.

The Rugby Football Union said it is giving owner Mick Crossan the chance to meet payroll as scheduled today or the offer of a deadline extension to complete a takeover will be withdrawn.

An American consortium is in discussions to take control of the club but has yet provide proof of funds to the RFU, as well as other documentation needed for the purchase to be approved.

“The RFU club financial viability group met yesterday evening. It noted the conditions set by the RFU had not been met and considered the application for an extension to the deadline,” an RFU statement on Wednesday morning read.

“It was agreed to defer the decision for 24 hours to establish if the club is able to honour the commitment it has made to staff that they will be paid for the month of May. The group will meet again this evening.”

Savethelastdance heads a field of 11 declared for the Betfred Oaks on Friday when she will bid to give Aidan O’Brien his fourth straight victory in the Epsom Classic.

The daughter of Galileo has been favourite for the fillies’ showpiece ever since decimating the opposition in the Cheshire Oaks earlier this month and heads to Epsoms in anticipation of faring much better in the 12 furlong event than her dam Daddys Lil Darling who bolted to post during a thunderstorm, unshipped Olivier Peslier and was subsequently withdrawn in 2017.

As well as Savethelastdance, O’Brien will also saddle Be Happy and Red Riding Hood in his attempt to secure Oaks win number 11 and continue his domination of the Friday feature.

John and Thady Gosden are responsible for what the bookmakers feel will be Savethelastdance’s biggest challenge saddling both Pretty Polly winner Roaring Lion and Musidora scorer Soul Sister, the latter the mount of Frankie Dettori in his final Oaks outing before retirement.

Supplementary entry and Lingfield trial winner Eternal Hope is entrusted with trying to provide Charlie Appleby with his first Oaks success, while Heartache Tonight is an interesting contender for David Menuisier having finished a close-up fourth in the Prix Saint-Alary.

Jack Channon’s 1000 Guineas fourth Caernarfon steps up in trip from a mile for her first start since Newmarket, while Maman Joon (Richard Hannon), Sea Of Roses (Andrew Balding) and Bright Diamond (Karl Burke) are the others heading to the mile-and-a-half start on Friday afternoon.

The other Group One on the card is the Dahlbury Coronation Cup where Westover will look to erase the demons of his troubled run in last year’s Derby.

Ralph Beckett’s Frankel colt was a somewhat unlucky loser behind Desert Crown 12 months ago, but gained compensation in the Irish equivalent and arrives on the back of a fine run to finish second in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March.

Emily Upjohn was another to be narrowly denied in her quest for Classic success in 2022 and reappears having opened her Group One account in the autumn, while Hurricane Lane is Godolphin’s chosen representative having bounced back to his best in the Jockey Club Stakes.

Ballydoyle’s Point Lonsdale is unbeaten in two starts this term and races over 12 furlongs for the first time, with Tunnes an interesting raider from Germany rounding off a select field of five.

Ireland all-rounder Curtis Campher will see his dream become a reality when he steps out to play in this week’s Test at Lord’s.

Campher has already played three Tests for Ireland this year and made a century against Sri Lanka in April but is desperate to feature at the ‘Home of Cricket’ against England.

The prestige of the four-day fixture has been scrutinised since it was revealed the visitors’ star bowler Josh Little would not be involved, while Cricket Ireland’s high performance director Richard Holdsworth labelled the second red-ball meeting between the nations as “a special occasion” but not a “pinnacle event”.

But Campher told the PA news agency: “Anyone that has played cricket would be lying if they say they don’t dream of playing at Lord’s.

“It will be an amazing thing to play England in a Test match at Lord’s. It is massive and a real historic venue, with all the history behind it.

“To be a part of that is really, really cool and just to be a Test-playing cricketer is a massive thing. To be part of history, no-one can take that away from you.

“Everyone is buzzing for the week of Test cricket.”

The journey of Johannesburg-born Campher to this point has been recounted many times with an exchange with his now agent Niall O’Brien during a match in 2018 able to speed up the process of the 24-year-old going on to represent Ireland.

Campher always held an Irish passport, due to his grandmother being from Northern Ireland, and had ambitions to play club cricket during the South African winter months once his studies stopped.

Yet in the summer of 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, he found himself fast-tracked into the senior international set-up and handed his debut in an ODI series against England.


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“I was happy to just carry water but before I knew it I was playing the first game versus England, so it has been an amazing three years,” Campher said.

Back-to-back fifties in losing causes provided a glimpse of what was to come from the all-rounder before Ireland ended the three-match series with victory over the world champions after Kevin O’Brien hit the winning runs.

O’Brien has since followed brother Niall into retirement after a stellar career and, while Campher is too modest to acknowledge any type of passing of the baton, he has taken plenty from one of Ireland’s all-time greats.

Campher added: “It was nice to rub shoulders with Kev for the few years I played with him.

“He has done so much for Irish cricket, the contributions he made were immense so if you can have half the career Kev has had, you’ve had a flipping good career!

“Kev is very calm, very relaxed and tries to simplify things. I have tried to take on that approach myself.”

O’Brien memorably crunched a remarkable 63-ball innings of 113 against England at the 2011 World Cup that propelled Ireland to a first ever victory over their rivals.

While Campher may be in the infancy of his own international career, he already appears to have the same panache as the previous all-rounder in the XI.

After arriving on the scene with scores of 59 not out and 68 against England, he has continued to save his best for the big occasion with four wickets in four balls during a T20 clash with Netherlands at the 2021 World Cup and last year’s tournament saw an unbeaten 72 down Scotland.

Campher also followed in O’Brien’s footsteps by scoring a Test century for Ireland earlier this year and knows what any notable achievements this week would mean.

“England are a class act but if I can contribute and help the team in any way, that would be a bonus,” he said.

“Everyone does look to want to be up on the honours board but that is too far to look.

“If it does happen, it happens, but if not life will still go on.”

A key feature of Campher’s strong form over the past 12 months has been enjoyment being at the forefront of his mind, but that should not take away from his determination.

So high is the belief of the Munster Reds player that he had privately targeted reaching three figures for Ireland long before he reached the milestone.

He is also acutely aware he has won two of his four meetings with England, most recently at the T20 World Cup in October.

Campher said: “A few of the lads have joked about how, since some of us made our debuts (in 2020), we’ve played England four times and won two and lost two.

“They said if we can keep that record going, we’ll have a pretty good careers!”

Tee Ritson admits he has “loved every minute” of playing with St Helens as he continues to embrace the challenge of playing in Super League.

The winger joined Saints on a season-long loan in November from Championship side Barrow after scoring 33 tries in 31 appearances with Raiders in 2022.

Ritson marked his debut in style for the defending Super League champions with a try against Castleford in the opening round of league fixtures and has continued to impress.

His performances have seen him start their last four Super League games and he feels he has adapted well to the league’s standards.

“I’ve loved every minute of it,” the 27-year-old told the PA news agency. “Obviously it’s been a massive step up for me, the training and everything, I think I’ve adapted really well.

“I’ve just kept my head down, focused on this year, focused on my training, the team and stuff like that then I’m getting a good run of games now so hopefully I can continue that form.

“The team itself, they’re a great set of lads, the club’s really good, all the staff have helped me out – I couldn’t ask for anything more to be honest, I’ve loved my time here.

“This time last year I was playing in the Championship and now I’m playing for the World Club Champions in Super League.

“It’s a massive step up, the training, the intensity and stuff like that. The first couple of weeks I was pretty sore so I wasn’t used to all the training every single day!

“But I’ve adapted to it, there’s a lot of new systems and tactics, things that you need to know within the team that I’ve had to get used to.

“I feel I’ve really settled in now and feel at home at this team.”

Ritson was speaking ahead of the eagerly-anticipated Magic Weekend which takes place in Newcastle at St James’ Park with St Helens facing Huddersfield on Sunday.

The winger has previously played in the Summer Bash, a similar event where a round of Championship fixtures take place over the course of a weekend, but Ritson admits Magic Weekend is on a “different level”.

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He said: “Obviously the stadium that we’re going to be playing in this weekend is massive compared to the stadium we’ve been in at the Bash before!

“I’ve been involved in a few Summer Bashes and they’ve been great, they’re really good for the fans.

“You get a good mixture of fans there, fans who don’t usually watch you play so you can showcase what you can do.

“Obviously this is a different level, a huge stadium, a massive following from all the teams, I’m expecting the place is going to be bouncing so I’m really looking forward to it.

“This is the first time I’ve been in the stadium today, just looking at it now it’s quite impressive, it’s really something.

“I can’t wait to see what it’s like once it’s packed with loads of fans, I’m looking forward to experiencing it.”

Aiden McGeady has left Hibernian at the end of an injury-disrupted season.

The 37-year-old winger moved to Easter Road last summer on a one-year deal but two long lay-offs restricted him to just 14 appearances, the majority of which came between December and February.

Hibs announced on Wednesday that McGeady, who said in January that he had contemplated retirement when he was sidelined in the first half of the season with a knee problem, would not be staying at the club.

“I’ve enjoyed my time at Hibs and wish the lads, supporters and the staff all the best for next season,” he told the Hibs website as news of his departure was confirmed.

The former Celtic, Sunderland and Republic of Ireland winger, who is currently recovering from a torn hamstring, will leave Easter Road along with defender Mikey Devlin – who has already agreed a move to Livingston – and goalkeeper Kevin Dabrowski.

Hibernian director of football Brian McDermott told the club’s website: “I would like to thank Aiden, Kevin and Mikey for their commitment and effort during their time with us. I wish them all the best for the future.”

On-loan quartet CJ Egan-Riley, Will Fish, Matthew Hoppe and Mykola Kuharevich are due to return to their parent clubs for the time being, although Hibs “are exploring the options to retain some of the loans”.

Tom Pidcock is reluctant to call it a target but the opportunity to take the yellow jersey on the opening weekend of this year’s Tour de France has not escaped his notice.

The 23-year-old will race his second Tour this July, and said his goal is to do better than he did on debut last summer.

That might seem a lofty ambition given how Pidcock stormed to a stunning solo stage victory on the Alpe d’Huez, the descending skills with which he escaped his breakaway companions still talked of with awe.

But it would get even more attention if the Ineos Grenadiers rider enjoyed a spell in yellow, and a lumpy opening stage in the Basque Country offers a rider of Pidcock’s talents a chance.

“I think it is (an opportunity), yeah,” he told the PA news agency. “It’s a possibility and something that I am aware is a possibility. I think the first stage of the Tour is one that can be treated like a one-day classic, it’s going to be a super-hard day.”

When told that sounds non-committal, Pidcock quickly adds: “I’m just playing it down.”

Pidcock, who proved his one-day credentials at Strade Bianche in March, is far from alone in eyeing that opening stage, but he has other goals in July too.

He wants to show greater consistency in the general classification, and also to win a stage from the main bunch rather than a break.

“Last year I was going to the Tour two months after being ill in the spring and then getting Covid, it was not the perfect lead in,” he said. “I think this year I’m stronger and I can do better, basically.”

Pidcock is certainly riding high on the back of his recent spell on the mountain bike.

The Olympic champion took two victories from the World Cup round in Novo Mesto, first storming from last to first to win a short track race he only learned he was riding with a couple of hours’ notice, then recovering from a lap-five crash to win the cross-country race.


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It came after he finished second in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and third in the Amstel Gold Race at the end of April.

The run of form is affirmation for the work Pidcock did in the winter, when he chose not to defend his cyclo-cross world title but instead focus on conditioning.

Although a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico in late March punched a hole in some of his ambitions, the core fitness remains.

“Definitely I feel I’m a bit more robust and certainly at a higher level and I have been for longer and I think that’s partly from the extra time spent building a base preparing,” he said. “I think that’s only going to carry into the rest of the season.”

Throughout his young career to date, the Yorkshireman has juggled the demands of road, mountain bike and cross, but always knew there would come a time when something had to give. This season has shown how that might look.

“I think if I want to achieve the goals I do on the road, certainly there are going to have to be sacrifices in other disciplines,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean they don’t contribute and help with those ambitions.”

There are likely to be sacrifices too at August’s World Championships in Scotland, where the first combined multi-discipline championships is creating dilemmas for several athletes given the schedule clashes.

Pidcock plans to race his mountain bike, so is strongly leading towards skipping the road race which comes first and could come at a cost.

“I don’t want to do both and go home with nothing,” he said. “I’d want to ride the road race because it’s a home race and it will be a super nice experience and I think the worlds is a very special particular race where you never know what will happen.

“It wouldn’t be a bad thing to ride, I want to ride, but would it be the best thing? I don’t know.”

:: Tom Pidcock is a Red Bull athlete. Watch him appear in ‘Race Tapes‘, the new Red Bull series that delves into the lives of the world’s leading riders across all disciplines.

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